Partisanship and Schools
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
I find myself in a new place. Since I started running for the Columbia County (Georgia) School Board, District 3, I have found myself with a whirlwind of ideas. As someone that has spent an entire life in education (either student, teacher, or professor), I feel like I have gained the experience and education required to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of all students.
And then there is the political sphere. Whether we like it or not, running for a public office is a political act. This race, for the school board, is non-partisan. You cannot declare a party. Education is supposed to be free from political influence. Yet, I have read comments to articles about the political leanings of candidates. I have been asked directly with which party I identify. I have been put on the spot to label myself.
Does it matter? My one and only concern is to improve the education of our children. We are bound by the shackles of testing and assessment. In my opinion, it has taken away from our educational system. While almost every school espouses the virtues of critical and creative thinking, how does that happen when everything has been broken down into testable pieces.
During this campaign, I have reached out to both parties. However, recently, reaching out and being asked specifically for a label, I was told, “No.” I wasn’t that party. They didn’t want to hear what I had to say. For a non-partisan race, it certainly seems partisan.
I am here, I am running for the betterment of our schools. Where I live, we have an outstanding school district. The scores are high, students move on to college and career, and the reputation is great. But, there is more to schools that this. It is more than, “Move them along to college and career.” This is the time for students to learn to live, to think, to understand, to analyze. It is the time to critique, to participate in the world, to discover. It is the time to be creative, critical and conscientious. Right now our schools teach students three things: content, conformity, and compliance. And then we expect them to be contributing members of society.
If those things and wanting those things are partisan issues, I guess I am partisan. Are there issues where I am slanted one way? Of course. I don’t think we should arm teachers. I think schools should not focus just on skills and content, but on critical and creative thinking. I think that teachers aren’t just there to fill young minds with information, but to allow students to question. I think that we only celebrate success (tests, grades and awards). We need to let children fail. There is a famous quote that has been attributed to Thomas Edison. He said, I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” We don’t let our students fail and learn from failure.
If this is partisan, wanting more from our schools, then I am partisan. And you should be, too.
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.