Sunday, January 17, 2010

from richmond...


We've returned from our evening at the ball- feet sore from dancing, red wine stains on the dress, but all in all an enjoyable evening.

You'll either be disappointed or relieved to know that I did not get into any policy discussion with anyone- it not being a sit-down dinner experience meant it did not lend itself to chatting with strangers about their political beliefs. Which was probably for the best all things considering.

I was fairly impressed with his speech at the inauguration itself. The section on education is below, (my thoughts are in blue).

"To compete in this global economy every young Virginian must have the opportunity of a world-class education from pre-school to college. (yes! he said preschool. PRESCHOOL! Amen- we need more world-class preschools! Start early!) A child's future prospects should be as unlimited as his intelligence, integrity and work ethic can take him. No child in Virginia should have her future determined by her place of birth (yes! Even if they were born in El Salvador and later entered our country illegally! I agree...) or zip code" Zip Code? Here come the charter schools...

We will work with President Obama (bipartisan? Hooray! Let's work together!) to expand high-quality charter schools (OH) and institute performance pay to our great teachers (Merit pay? How are you going to measure this? Define great. What about special ed teachers? Our students don't fit into the mold of excelling on standardized tests?). More money must go to the classroom (Yes! More Money for the classrooms! More money!) and less into administration (Oh, so give the schools the same amount of money, but demand that they spend it in different ways. I'm all for the 65% ratio, but just don't let that be the excuse for not giving more money to the schools), and new opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math and healthcare must be created through our schools and colleges.

And let us recognize that a high school degree is no longer the finish line in a global economy. We must create affordable new pathways to earning a college degree and make a commitment to confer 100,000 additional degrees over the next 15 years Fabulous! As long as we are preparing students for college along the way, and not just sending students on to college to say we did, without giving them the tools they need to be successful. And don't forget- there are plumbers and electricians out there that never went to college, but are doing far better financially than I am... Why make them go to college? We must make our community colleges national leaders in workforce development and career training.

These are investments that will pay individual and societal dividends for many years to come Yes! Amen!

Barbara Johns I don't actually know who that is... was willing to risk everything for the simple opportunity of a good education. Surely, sixty years later, we can work together to provide that opportunity to all Virginia children.

Our administration will demand excellence, reward performance, provide choices and celebrate achievement. Excellence on test scores? Or good teaching? Reward performance for good teaching, or test scores? Celebrate achievement in test scores? Or good learning and progress? Provide choices by giving public money to businesses to start their own schools, or by opening up boundaries so that children can choose within their school district?

I was still enjoying being there, and for the most part was very impressed with the speech. Later that night, all dressed up happily ready to spin across the dance floor, we stood listening to his short speech at the ball itself. Wine in hand it was still and enjoyable experience until he uttered the words "merit pay" . Suddenly, in my fancy dress I felt a sense of panic about what was to come. I always fear merit pay because what will you reward? Will it be based on test scores? So that no classroom teacher will want to volunteer to take the special ed students in their classes because they'll pull down the class average? And so, standing there, sipping my wine, my thoughts turned from dancing toward school. And my kids. And who will teach the children who need the most help, if they wont be rewarded for teaching them like they would be rewarded for teaching other children? What about the children whose small achievements were harder earned than children who learn easily academically?

I tried to fight off those thoughts and focus on enjoying dancing with mr. lipstick. I try to focus on the fact that no matter what anyone does in Richmond, it wont change how hard I'll fight for my kids, it wont change the awesome teachers I work with, and wont change how hard our children work. That being said, I'm off to work on lesson plans- control what I can... control what I can...

1 comment:

Jenny said...

Barbara Johns was a pretty amazing woman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Rose_Johns

A think tank focused on creative solutions for future problem solvers -tree