I would like to start by saying that the race for the Columbia County School Board is a non-partisan race. It is about finding the person that is best for the position. It is about finding the person that understands education, is forward thinking, and has the experience and education to move Columbia County Schools into the 21st century. However, there is also the reality of the world we live in.
We all have different opinions. No two people think the same way. That is what makes our society exciting. And terrifying. We can talk and debate and argue and scream at each other. Or we can combine our ideas to get to a place that is greater. I am sure that I have opinions that differ from many people. In fact, I know I do. Some of those ideas have to do with education. Many don’t. But, our combined voices are what can lead us forward.
One thing I have learned is that the school board is supposed to represent the community. In the last election in Columbia County, almost 70% of the people voted for Donald Trump. That means that 30% didn’t. I am in that 30%. What do know is that right now, the school board leans, no, falls to the right. Does that represent all of the people in the county? Does that represent all of the points of view that we have? My point is that we need a diversity of voices in order to work through the complexities of our educational system.
With this in mind, it is also important to reiterate that education is complicated. Discussion is necessary. Conversations need to be had. Differing opinions need to be represented. We are here to educate all of the children in the county and to represent all of the people in the county. Debates need to occur that consider various perspectives and aspects of life. But, the best part? It is a school board. It is made up for five people. No one person controls everything. Another opinion, another point of view that might look at things in a different way, can only benefit the decision making process.
Both of the other candidates for the school board fit the mold of the current school board based on my knowledge of them. Of course they are each individuals with their own ideas, but they fit in with the majority in Columbia County. The thing is, in many ways, so do I. I care about the education of our children. I care about the community. I care about the people that live here. To be honest, I am sure there are things that I believe that would rub people the wrong way. But, we live in a complex democracy that values discussions, debate, and conversation. With my experience (11 years in public schools) and education (Master’s and doctorate in education), coupled with my knowledge of Columbia County Schools (I have taught many of the teachers in the district), I will be the person that allows us to consider complexities of education, not just because I am a good listener, but because I have a deep knowledge of both the practical side schools (teaching and administration), but also the theoretical side of education and the possibilities that are ahead of us. Most importantly, I will allow all of the residents of Columbia County to be represented.
I am here for students and their learning. I want every student to succeed whether they are college bound, career prepared, or still not knowing what s/he wants out of life. A friend sent me a post the other day that said, “If we raise a test score, but fail to raise a reader, we have failed the child.” I think this is true on the broader sense. If we raise a test score, but fail to prepare a students for a successful, happy, and productive life in which they are active members of their community, we have failed the child.
If you would like to know more, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (706) 564-4541. You can also visit me at http://andrewtkemp.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/kemp4ccboe/ Please like my page.
If you would like to donate so that I can visit your neighborhood, please help. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kemp4ccboe/
Vote for Andrew Kemp for Columbia County School Board, District 3 on May 22. Early voting starts on April 30.
While I was in college, I took a graduate class about political behavior. In this class we read a lot of theory about voting patterns, how people behave in elections, and we bridged the gap between this theory and what actually happens. Understand, this was in 2004 or so and many of the specifics are a little fuzzy.
What I remember most were two things. First, I did a major project on school boards and school board elections. At the time, I didn’t have any interest in being on a school board. But, I was interested in how they were constructed. According to my research, only about 17% of school board members have a background in education. Things like being a PTO president, substitute teacher, and school volunteer were considered a background (and this is valuable experience). However, after spending the last 10+ years in higher education studying our educational system, I have walked away with two things. First, educators need to make decisions about education. I completely understand the need for the public to have a voice, but more than 80% of the voice? Second, and perhaps more importantly, education is complicated. While most of us attended school in some fashion (I say most because of homeschooling), being a student doesn’t mean that you know education. That is akin to saying that being a patient means you know medicine. Or getting arrested means you know law.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t have expertise in medicine or law or engineering or the military or construction. Or a host of other careers. But, I do have expertise in education. I was a public school teacher for 11 years and have almost finished 11 years as a college professor in the field of education. In addition, I have two advanced degrees in education which took a total of seven years of graduate school. My experience and education qualifies me to not only be on a school board, but to understand the complexities, the depth of the issues, the ramifications of decisions, and the effects on not only students, but the community.
The second thing I learned in my study of political behavior is about elections. What I learned is that, according to research, all of what I said above doesn’t matter. If you ask an individual, yes, they care. But, in general, voters don’t focus on details. In the last election for this position, only about 10% of the registered voters voted. To me, that is sad for a democracy. Second, people vote for what they recognize.
Why do you think our roadways, empty lots, and neighborhoods are littered with political signs? We choose things we recognize. If you see a name over and over and over and over, when it comes time to decide who to vote for, you choose the name. In fact, the more you see it, the more likely you will vote. And what are you voting for? The name on a sign?
With this in mind, we also like simplicity. We don’t like complexity. We come up with catchy slogans. We come up with phrases to describe ourselves. I will admit, I am guilty of this. My slogan is, “An Educator for Education.” What does this even mean? It tells you that I am an educator. I think this is important. It also tells you that I am for education. And it sounds good.
In this election, I have two opponents. Both of them have slogans about being a voice. One says, “A New Voice, A Fresh Perspective.” The other says she wants to be, “The Voice for Education.” See? Simple and to the point. And sort of the same.
I argued earlier that we need educators in education. Why do we need a new voice? Especially a new voice that doesn’t have the background in the complexities of education. Listening to people isn’t enough. Considering that this is an open seat and none of us have ever been on a school board, don’t we all have a fresh perspective? The other slogan is more subtle. Where the first candidate says “A” new voice, suggesting it would be part of the conversation, the other slogan says, “The” voice. It is firm and solitary. Of course, this is the former English teacher in me probably over-analyzing the statement.
Coupled with this, people running for office are also told that they should have bullet points. Simple ideas that form the backbone of the ever present stump speech. When I did my first ones, I had 18. Like I said, education is complex. However, I shrunk it to five things. Recently, I added a sixth.
Again, we are all sort of guilty of doing this. One of my opponents has four points. It is a total of ten words. Of course, it does go further into depth. Well, 69 more words. My last blog post about education (which I do often so that you can know what I believe and my vision) was 573 words (https://www.andrewtkemp.com/…/21st-century-students-in-20th…). And that was yesterday. My other opponent states on her website, “I was advised that I would need to list at least three talking points on education – the issues and board topics that I would address during my campaign. While I can understand that this could make the campaign easier, please don’t expect me to take that approach.” So, we don’t even get that.
Why is this important? Like I said before, we like simplicity. We like comfort. We like things we recognize. But, is this the reason to vote for someone? Having lots of signs and having lots of meetings means one thing. You have money to do it. This stuff is expensive. And it gets your name out there. Heck, maybe I am lucky that you are seeing Kemp signs everywhere even though it is not me.
Please don’t get me wrong. I have a great amount of respect for the other candidates for this office. First, pledging oneself to public service is important and they both should be celebrated for wanting to do so. In addition, giving service to the country is a great sacrifice to make and should be respected. Being a 23 year educator shows a lot of experience in the schools and a solid background in education.
Campaigning is difficult. It takes time. It is draining. You have to put yourself out into the world knowing that you are going to be judged for what you do. And for what you don’t do. Your words will be analyzed. Your past will be investigated. Everything you say and post will factor into the equation.
But, it isn’t simple. Nor should it be treated as such. Living in a democracy is complicated. It takes effort. You have to pay attention. You have to work at it. With only 10% of the eligible voters coming out to vote for this office in the last election, it seems that we have a lot of work together to make our democratic democracy.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am a candidate for the Columbia County School Board, District. 3.
Early voting starts on April 30.
Don't forget to vote for Andrew Kemp for Columbia County School School Board, District 3.
Times change. We have advancements in technology, knowledge, teaching techniques, and careers. According to the World Economic Forum, “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist,” (para. 1). Yet, somehow we have schools that are using 20th century information, technology, teaching techniques, and content. In fact, much of what we do is older that.
The traditional layout of the classroom, with the teacher at a desk in the front and the students at desks (usually in rows) was first widely used in the 16th century Jesuit schools in Europe. Note taking and memorization of knowledge is just as old. I collect antique English books. I have a literature book from 1879. With the exception of newer writing, the book is the same as we use today. Most of what we do in schools is based on tradition. We are slow to change.
If you think about it, most of us went through school. This is how we learned. And we here are, decades later, with various levels of success. Why change it if it isn’t broken.
It is broken.
We are using old, stale techniques and content for 21st century learners. We are using techniques, methods, and information that is becoming outdated. The 21st century needs students to be critical thinkers. The 21st century will need citizens that are creative problem solvers. We need students that think quickly, analyze situations, consider options, and use information to make informed decisions.
Right now, students sit in desks and take in information. And they are quizzed and tested. They are expected to know things. But, just know things. We need students to be able to do things. We need students to be able to experience things. We need students that understand the world around them, not just the world of their textbooks and lectures. We need students to be active in making this country better in every way.
And what we are doing in school now isn’t doing that. Students are so focused on getting good grades, getting the right answer, and earning every point, the content doesn’t have relevance.
It is time our schools rethink themselves for the 21st century. The idea that, “because that is the way it has always been done,” isn’t good enough.
When people move to the area, they shouldn’t just move to Columbia County because most of our schools have high test scores. High test scores don’t really mean anything. They are a measure on a certain day at a certain time. These tests have hijacked our education system. I was recently talking to a local educator about this very issue. I said that I thought that teachers should be given the freedom to try new and creative things in the classroom. I was told that this was a great idea, but many teachers would say, no, because they don’t have time because they have to cover the standards for the tests.
Is this what we have come to? Tests rule our schools?
As a school board member, I would work diligently to make Columbia County Schools not only known for test scores, but also for innovative practices, creative teaching, being at the forefront of education for the 21st century. People would come to Columbia County to get a great education that prepares students for life.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am a candidate for the Columbia County, Georgia, School Board for District 3.
Vote for me on May 22, 2018. Vote Andrew Kemp.
In 2007, my family moved to Sycamore, Illinois. I had just taken a faculty position at Northern Illinois University and was starting my new career as a professor. As a lifelong soccer player, we decided to get my daughters involved with the local league. I coached both of my kids. One was in an under 8 league and the other was under 10. While I had experience coaching high school athletes, coaching kids was different.
My favorite story from that time was with my daughter’s U8 team. We were in the middle of a game and we had the ball at the opponent’s end of the field. The other team got the ball and started down the field. Our last player back, a six year old girl, was nowhere to be seen. The ball had been away for too long. She was running toward the woods next to the field chasing butterflies. Do you want to why? She liked butterflies. And, she was six. A six year old has a short attention span.
So, why this story? In the testing environment we have created, we expect children that are 8 or 9 years old to be able to pay attention to a 40-80 minute test on a computer. And that is just one day. Testing can take three days with multiple tests on the same day.
According to Edutopia, the average child can concentrate on a task for 2-5 minutes per year of age. To make the math easy, let’s look at a ten year old. That would be 20-50 minutes. Not even close to an 80 minute test.
Now, I am sure you are saying that you have seen your child play with toys for hours or watch TV for an eternity. That is true. But, that is something that is being chosen and enjoyed. Not a test.
Our current testing system has children as young as 7 or 8 sitting for multiple testing days with tests that last up to 80 minutes. In addition, these are done on computers. Not every child has a computer or the ability to use one. For children in the 3rd grade, this test is of utmost importance. If students fail the language arts portion of the test, they are retained. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (from the Center for Development and Learning), retention at a young age is associated with high school dropout (2-11 times more likely), a significantly decreased likelihood of any post-secondary education, and lower educational and employment status in later life.
In a study in the 1980s, it was found that retention was only behind losing a parent and going blind. In a repeat of the study in 2001, it moved ahead of both. Students that are retained have lower self-esteem, poorer attendance, and many other issues (http://www.cdl.org/articles/grade-retention-achievement-and-mental-health-outcomes/).
The point is that we have created a school system that doesn’t take into account the developmental level of the child. We don’t take into account the deleterious effects of testing. We don’t think about the reductionist view of education that only focuses on what is measureable. And it is damaging our education system.
Our schools are filled with wonderful teachers with wonderful ideas. There are fascinating things to learn in literature, science, history, math, music, art, and physical education. There are inspiring educators that are handcuffed by standards that could be creating learning environments that not only educate, but push our children to greatness.
We need to rethink what we are doing in schools. This assessment culture is diminishing us. It is diminishing our children. It is diminishing our world. When I think about children…when I think about my children when they were young, I don’t want to picture them sitting at a computer panicked, stressed, and unhappy. I want to picture them chasing butterflies.
Please vote for Andrew Kemp for the Columbia County, Georgia, School Board—District 3. Visit http://andrewtkemp.com/ for more information.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am a candidate for the Columbia County, Georgia, School Board—District 3.
As a candidate in a local election, I have become acutely aware of the reality of our political system. It is complicated, frustrating, and much of it is filled with false bravado. There are meaningless statements and vague promises. Signs litter our roadways (of this I am guilty). Catchy slogans pop up about being an outsider, a new voice, or aligned with current policies. There is slick rhetoric about how a candidate can’t give specifics because there are too many issues, but they will all be addressed. Others focus on popular sentiments about current trends.
What does it all mean?
At all levels, our political system has become a quagmire of falsities and vagaries. We have become more interested in not saying the wrong thing instead of saying the right thing. Or, heck, saying anything. We don’t make statements that can be checked. We don’t readily address issues that are controversial. We don’t say things that beg people to ask us questions.
Well, that has to stop. It seems to me that people that get elected, many times, are the ones that we know the least. They play to comfort. They sit in the middle. They try to be everything to everyone. Well, that person does not exist.
So, hello. My name is Drew. I was a public school teacher/program coordinator for 11 years. I have two degrees in education (Master’s and doctorate). I have been in higher education for almost 11 years researching, teaching, and promoting education. Personally, I focus on the theories behind what we teach (which I believe is contextual). I teach student-centered instruction. I teach research methods. I am a social justice educator. I believe that all children have the right to learn. I believe that our focus on testing and assessment has diminished our education system. I believe that our schools need to reflect the community through what we teach. I believe that there is an overreliance on textbooks. I don’t believe that schools are failing, but don’t serve the best interests of our children. I believe that now more than ever we need school counselors to be counselors.
I do have a voice. It isn’t a new voice. It isn’t a vague voice. It isn’t a voice that is going to tell you that I can’t commit to an idea because there are too many. I am here. I am open. I am here to answer any questions that you have.
If you want to know more about me, follow my blog at http://andrewtkemp.com/blog/. I am going to start writing something almost every day.
If you have questions, ask. If you have concerns, share. If you want to talk, call. If you want to help, donate.
On May 22, 2018, vote for Andrew Kemp for the Columbia County School Board, District 3.
With the exception of a year, I have been a teacher or a student for my entire life. I have taught on many different levels. I have been a middle school teacher (okay, for one semester for student teaching...because of this, I have a profound respect for middle school teachers), high school, undergraduates and graduate students. I have coached soccer in youth leagues and high school. Education is in my blood.