Shared Responsibility, Safety, and Success!
I have been attending WDM School Board meetings for months. My observation of the work of the board has led me to three areas that are the heart of my campaign...I call them the 3 “S’s.
Educators, Parents, Students. All three have shared responsibility for student growth and success.
The district has a history of hiring and retaining excellent educators. This was true when I was a student, when my son was a student, and is true today. Being an educator myself, I respect the professionalism of our educators. I will not attempt to micromanage our educators. The school board hires excellent administrators and principals to implement school board determined policies.
Parents should be engaged partners in their children’s education. Parents have access for information to be informed parents through electronic access to their children’s classrooms information, e-mails, telephone calls, and in person meetings with their children’s educators. Parents already have the ability to have their student opt out of lessons and other media if they choose to do so.
Parents’ voices should be heard by the school board. However, this will never mean listening to only a few of the loudest most persistent voices. Or voices from outside of our community who are funded by interest groups outside of Iowa. No one parent or small group of parents will have veto power over the combined voices of the great majority of the parents in the district.
Children need to feel safe to be successful in school.
Due to the incidences of physical violence in schools that is seen in the national news, physical security of schools is certainly on the minds of educators, parents, and students. But often it is too easy to focus on physical security.
Students need to feel emotionally safe in their schools to succeed. It is more difficult to define and achieve. WDM schools already are focusing on working making every child feel that they are respected and valued. And I will work to ensure these efforts are maintained and expanded.
There has been a lot of activity in the Iowa Legislature that focuses on making a few students feel less valued. To be blunt, this is legislative and political bullying. We do not put up with bullying in our schools from any source, from any viewpoint. One of the most valuable lessons we teach in public schools is how to get along with others who may not be exactly the same as we are. In a nation that is becoming more diverse, our students need to experience this diversity in order to be successful in society. Sometimes this will cause uncomfortable conversations. This does not mean that someone who is uncomfortable in a discussion is less valuable or should feel shamed but can use that feeling of discomfort to grow and learn and in the end, be a more compassionate person.
While it is easy to focus on the historic success of Valley Tiger athletics and the rich history of success in the arts in our schools, and should be supported as an important educational experiences, the core mission of our schools is to prepare students for their adult lives.
We have a tendency to measure success in education as children moving on to higher education, most often college and university education. While of course preparation for higher education will always be a focus, and high academic achievement will be celebrated, the students who perhaps are not the academic superstars need to be recognized as well. The students who come to school every day, prepared to learn and grow while facing some struggles should be celebrated as well. Students who choose to move into vocational training and apprenticeship programs are already being supported and celebrated in the district. Students with special needs are a vital part of our school district, and their educational experiences should focus on preparing them to live as full a life a possible, and be celebrate for their success as well.