With the exception of one year, I have been a students or teacher my entire life. I have been a public school student, earned three degrees, taught overseas, been a public school teacher and program coordinator, and have 10 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member in education. One thing that has grown for me throughout my life in education is that we need an education that focuses on critical and creative thinking for all students.
There are many people that think our education system is a failure. They cite the numbers where students aren’t able to read or do math. Test scores are published and schools are admonished for failure. The question is, what do these scores mean? What is this culture of testing and assessment doing to education?
I argue that these tests are only singular measure rooted in time and place. They do not represent the year or years of learning that have occurred. The public demands accountability for schools, but in doing so has reduced education to a system of standards, assessments and scores. Many teachable moments are lost due to intense focus on the “success” of these tests. Students are not individuals; they are numbers and scores.
Schools are not a failure. Could they be better? Of course. But, so could medicine, law, construction, retail, hospitality and any other profession. Diane Ravitch notes that the failure of our school system is a myth perpetuated by textbook companies and politicians to create a need for profit and control. Students graduating from schools are doing great things. Science, technology, engineering, literature, music….they are all progressing. Innovations are happening. We are creating new and great things.
However, I believe that schools are declining because of assessment. Education has been refocused onto testable knowledge, not critical and creative thinking. Are schools in a state of complete disarray? Not at all. But, we can do better. Our schools and school systems are being shackled by testing Movements to cut funding and move it into the private sector (vouchers, charter school corporations) and dismantling are deteriorating the structure of the public education system. Cuts to the arts, special education, and CTAE (career, technical, and agricultural engineering) are reframing the narrative of a public education for all.
This is why I am running for the school board. I have 21 years of experience as a professional educator. I have been a public school teacher, program coordinator, teacher educator, and professor of advanced educational studies. Columbia County Schools are known for being some of the best in the state. Much of this is due to the test scores. We can make Columbia County Schools not only high in the rankings, but renowned for innovative curriculum and teaching, creative programs, forward thinking teachers, and educators with an eye for progress.
Here is what I want to do:
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board. If you would like to support my campaign and the education of our children (and I think you do), please consider donating at http://gofundme.com/kemp4ccboe/.
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.