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.
Generation Z and the Millennials: They Aren’t a Band
As an educator, my life has been devoted to educating our youth. Since I was five, I have either been a students or teacher (with the exception for a one year break when I was 23…I got married). As a student I evolved from a classic, distracted underachiever to a doctoral student with a 3.97. As a teacher I have taught everything from English as a Second Language in a native school in the Republic of the Marshall Islands to Career Research to Advanced Placement Language and Composition. As a faculty member at two different universities I have taught students from anywhere from their first year to teacher certification classes to graduate curriculum classes to doctoral classes on learning theory. Over the course of my career, I have learned one thing. Students are amazing.
There is much public consternation over the youngest generations—Generation Z and the Millennials. Both of these generations have been characterized as being needy, entitled, having short attention spans, and without focus. Well, that is the media argument. That is an excuse.
The Millennials, perhaps the most criticized generation by the media is been maligned for seeming indifference and entitlement. But, where does the fault lie? This generation grew up during a time of great prosperity. There was lots of money. Technology was exploding. America was on top. The Soviet Union fell. They grew up with many advantages. Yet, now we blame them for having high expectations. But, this generation now has their own children and see this world as needing change. Their children are in our schools. They are now settled into life. They have the ability to multi-task, are tech-savvy, are creative problem-solvers, are driven, and are socially conscious.
Generation Z, those born from 1995 on, are independent, have only lived with technology, are adaptable, and are global citizens. In addition, based on my experience, they are socially conscious and are incredibly open in celebrating all people. There are few preconceived notions about people and want to get to know people for who they are, not how they are labeled.
So, what is the point? Why focus on these groups?
On March 24, I attended the CSRA March for Our Lives march and rally. This was organized by four young women, high school students, as their way of saying, “This is enough!” This does not seem like a disenfranchised generation. This does not seem to be a group that is needy. This does not seem like a group with a short attention span. In fact, it is just the opposite. This protest, organized by Generation Z and attended by both, shows the power that these groups have. They are tired of the world they were given and are screaming out for change.
In Changes, David Bowie sang, “And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they’re quite aware of what they are going through.” These young people, Generation Z and the Millennials, are quite aware of what they are going through. They see the cynicism, the conflict, the intolerance, the violence, the broken government, the fracturing American psyche. However, the country is ripe for change and these are the changers. No longer will they rely on older generations to do things for them. They are going to take control of their future and make a change for the better.
And they are voters. And they will vote.
So, Generation Z and Millennials, you have a chance to make a difference. Go out in droves and vote. Don’t let apathy and indifference be the status quo.
You will make a difference.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am an candidate for the School Board of Columbia County, District 3.
On February 15, 2008, I sat down with my then 8-year-old daughter. She asked what was going on? She wanted to know what everyone was talking about. She had heard bad things. What I realized was that she was asking, “Are we safe?”
That is because on February 14, 2008, at 3:05pm, Steven Kazmierczak walked into Cole Hall at Northern Illinois University (where I was faculty) and opened fire into a lecture hall with a shotgun and three pistols (a Glock 19, and SIG Sauer P232, and an ACP Hi-Point CF380). He had eight full magazines.
Over the next few minutes, he shot 23 people of which six died.
At 3:03pm, I was sitting in my office in Gabel Hall, about 300 yards away. I was lucky. As the shooting started, I was leaving my office and walking out to my car the opposite direction. As I left the parking lot, all I saw were police, helicopters, fire rescue, and ambulances. It was a swarm. I thought, “What is going on?’ I quickly switched on the radio to local news and heard.
I called my wife and told her to turn on the news.
As a parent, you know that there are difficult conversations that you are going to have to have. There is, “The Talk.” You will have to talk about loved ones dying. There are breakups. There are lost friendships. But, nowhere in the parenting manual is there a chapter on, “Are we safe?” Nowhere in the rules for being a parent does it tell you that you need to worry about your child being shot at school.
Today, I spent my morning and early afternoon at a remarkable event. A group of students organized a March For Our Lives event in Columbia County, Georgia. The turnout was amazing. There was a march, a rally, chants… There were impassioned speeches from students. There were people of many races, religions, persuasions, and ages. It was truly moving.
People often criticize millennials. But, what I saw today gives me hope for the future.
Young people can make a difference.
We need to support these children in their endeavors. In this area, during the March 14 walkout, many schools were giving three day In-school Suspensions for walking out. I argue that we should march with the students. We should support them. We should make sure they are safe. The schools, the teachers, the administrations should all help our students become members of our democracy.
These are our children and our future.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
Over the course of the last few months, I have written and spoken endlessly about the desperate need for critical and creative thinking in our schools. I haven’t given many details about how we can do that, so I am going to give you an example. Let me preface this by saying that this is not the only way to do this, but something I have done.
This semester, at Augusta University, I have been teaching a First Year Experience class for first year students. The theme for the year was Heroes and Humans. We were able to create any course we wanted to around this theme. My course was titled, “Students as Heroes: Becoming and Activist.” The idea of this course was for groups of students to find a cause of concern, research it, write about it, create a social media presence, and design a webpage. Some of the obvious areas of study were research, writing, marketing, rhetoric and persuasion, history (of the cause), technology, and communications.
For the class, the students came up with the following causes that they wanted the greater university to become more aware of:
Preservation of Public Space and Environmental Awareness
Animal Rights and Sea World
For this project, they were to create flyers, sign up students to get more information, and start campus conversations about their topics. As the final project, all students in the First Year Experience classes campus-wide have an Expo to share what they did in class. There are presentation boards, laptop computers, projectors, and presentations. My class, to promote communication, did little in terms of “presentation,” but went person to person to talk about what they had studied. They had people sign petitions so they could get more information. The person that studied HIV Awareness handed out condoms (remember, this is a college class and it was her idea—in fact it was a condom with a mint…condomints).
So, as the students studied areas of interest and things that ignited their passions, they were able to think critically about issues and what they truly meant. They had to make decisions about how to convince others, market their ideas, and persuade their peers about their causes. They creatively reached out to the public through their websites, some groups created buttons, others created social media campaigns.
The idea behind the First Year Experience class is to teach inquiry. To ask questions. To seek out answers. To research. To learn. In my class, we did all of those things. In addition, hopefully, the students became more aware of the world around them and started thinking deeply about their community and the greater good.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am a candidate for the Columbia County, Georgia, School Board for District 3.
Attached are photos from the Expo where they shared their ideas.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
Over the last few weeks, a number of people have asked me why I am running for the school board. This question has tumbled around in my head bouncing from the specific to the abstract, from the idealistic to the practical. Over the last few days for some reason, it has started to become more clear and tangible.
I love my children. I want them to have a happy and healthy future. I want them to be successful in life and to be active members of society. I want them prepared for the complexities of living in this society.
Our schools aren’t doing that. Even schools that are considered excellent, like in Columbia County, are severely lacking when it comes to any kind of preparation for life. I know. We have “college and career readiness” programs and curriculum. That isn’t a preparation for life. That is a preparation for the workforce. Life is more than a job.
Life is about being able to consider various viewpoints and make a decision.
Life is about being able to take a stand.
Life is about being comfortable with who you are and be able to celebrate that.
Life is about finding creative solutions to problems.
Life is about finding what you love and pursuing it.
Life is about thinking critically about the world around you.
Life is about caring about your peers, neighbors, community, and world.
Life is about processing information to create new and innovative ideas.
Life is about discovering who you are, what you believe, and what is important.
Our schools aren’t doing that. We are so concerned with test scores, money, being right, and striving to be the best, that we have lost sight of childhood. We demand academic greatness, but at what cost?
Why am I running? Because we can do it better. We can take what we do well and expand it. We can create schools that not only achieve high marks on the measures that are given, but also create meaningful learning environments.
I know this is an odd reference, but in the movie Footloose (the Kevin Bacon one), Reverend Shaw (played by John Lithgow) says, “If we don't start trusting our children... how will they ever become trustworthy?” Well, the same is true about our schools. If we don’t let our children think, analyze, discover, and create….how will they ever be able to think, analyze, discover, and create?
Why am I running? I want my daughters, no, I want all children to not be so consumed with the content of school that they miss out on living. I want all children to be active members of their communities, of society, and of the country. I want all children to be able to think for themselves and be able to made decisions.
My name is Andrew Kemp. The reason I am running for the Columbia County, Georgia School Board for District 3 is to take what we do well, and move it forward so that all students can have the knowledge, skills, and background to live a successful and happy life.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
Well, it is official. Today around 10am I filled out the final paperwork for qualifying for the election. I gave the name as I wanted to see it on the ballot (I hope I didn’t misspell.). I sent out my financial disclosure forms. I formally created my campaign committee. I am an official candidate for Columbia County (Georgia) School Board, District 3. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would run for public office. But, times are such that I had to do something.
The reason that I am running for this office is to try to help change what we are doing in schools. Now, don’t get me wrong. The schools in Columbia County are great. But, our education system is so focused on right and wrong, black and white, yes and no, that we are missing the context of creativity and critique.
We need to rethink what we are doing. Now, I am a realist. I know that in this educational climate, testing and money go hand in hand. However, there are ways to teach, curricula that can be designed, and materials that can be used in which test scores stay high, but students also can think creatively. They can act critically. They can problem solve. They can discover. They can explore. They can grow.
That is my plan. Yes, I know that dealing with school issues, zoning, budgeting and other things is part of the position. But, it can be more than that.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I have qualified for the election as a candidate for Columbia County School Board, District 3. Please help me move forward.
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.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors.
After the tragic events in Parkland, there has been a movement of students about the issue of school safety. Recently, someone asked my opinion on the idea of student protests, walkouts, and the threat of punishment.
I think that everyone wants our youth to be thoughtful and involved in the world around them. The First Amendment grants, “The right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” With this in mind, I believe that students have the right to protest and have a well-planned and organized walkout. Students availing themselves of their right to protest in support of safer schools is not only noble, but also has the potential of enacting the discussion that we need to have.
I would urge schools and teachers to not punish students for airing the concerns and make sure that the situation remained safe.
We want students to be thoughtful members of society. We want students to be problem solvers. We want students to be active in their communities.
I am not saying that they should protest everything as an excuse to get out of school. This situation is unique and deserves attention.
Educator John Dewey once stated, “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” Let students experience life. There should be no punishment, no threats of retaliation. Teachers should not assign things during that time as punishment. Something need to change. In fact, I believe that teachers should join them to provide guidance, safety, and support.
Being a member of a democracy is work. Finding out what is important is work. Students should have the right to protest this event. We need safe schools and have serious discussions about them.
As an educator, I feel that it is my duty to address the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. And Marshall County, Kentucky. And Rancho Tehama Reserve, California. And Roseburg, Oregon. And Newtown, Connecticut. And…actually, the tragedy is that I was only picking places with many deaths. And public schools. If I were to list all school shootings, it would go on for pages and pages. And that is not counting non-school shootings. Las Vegas. Orlando. Virginia Tech (which is a school shooting, but not the P-12 system).
As a former teacher in Florida, I cannot fathom what the feelings are there.
To be clear, I am a proponent of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and what they stand for. However, this is a working document. It has been amended and changed. The First Amendment has limitations (such as you don’t have total free speech at work, speech at schools, obscenity, slander, etc.). After the Bill of Rights, there were 17 other amendments that were ratified. With changes in technology, the growth of the population, and other issues, we need to consider keeping the Constitution and Bill of Rights updated to match contemporary society. It has happened before (voting rights, term limits, etc.).
With that being said, our schools cannot be dangerous. Students need to feel safe to learn. Psychologist Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs that need to be met for students to be able to become self-actualized and learn. Just about physiological needs are needs of safety. Without being safe, people cannot find love and belonging, self-esteem, and ultimately self-actualization.
A common idea that has been circulating is to arm teachers. As a former school teacher, in no way should an educator have that responsibility. Aside from the technical issues (where a gun would be, securing it, making sure it wasn’t stolen, etc.), an educator’s job is to educate. When the teacher becomes an armed bodyguard, it is time to rethink the entire system.
So, you might ask, what can we do? If we can’t protect ourselves, what options do we have? The problem is bigger than this. There are 5 million (that is 5,000,000) AR-15 rifles in circulation. That is one for every 65 people. There are also 270 guns in circulation in the U.S. How do these school shootings happen? People have guns.
I do not have a solution. But, I know we do need to start having serious conversations.
However, what I do know is that if we want students to be successful, to be critical and creative thinkers, they cannot live in fear. Right now, I think, there is fear. This happens too often. As a society, we get outraged, and then nothing changes. Well, something needs to change.
Our children are who we are. Each time one dies in a school shooting, or through suicide, or through careless behavior, we, as a country are diminished.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
As we move forward in this election campaign, I have been blogging about education, our schools, my beliefs, and, to be honest, some random stuff. You can find my blog at http://andrewtkemp.com/blog/.
Today, I want to talk about the mission of the Columbia County School District. According to the website (http://www.ccboe.net/) the mission is We LEARN.
Lead by Example
Expect All to Succeed
Achieve excellence through engaging experiences
Respect and value each other
Now and tomorrow
Lead by Example: This first statement is essential. I think we should lead by example. However, what we want for our children is to be critical and creative thinkers. This is the example we must set. We must have teachers that are critical thinkers and creative practitioners to make education come alive. I know that many are, but we need to strive to make our schools not just places of content, but places if learning and inspiration.
Expect All to Succeed: This is a primary part of my platform—education for all. I want to ensure a quality education for all students regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or ability. I want all students to succeed. However, we can’t have generic measures of success. Students are individuals. Our measures of success should allow for individuality.
Achieve Excellence Through Engaging Experiences: Learning is an active process. Learning needs context. Learning needs to be engaging. I think that students spend too much time in textbooks. I understand and support the need for a strong education filled with literature, science, social studies, math, music, career education, and art. However, much of what we do is about learning facts. We need to have students be engaged in their education through rethinking what we do.
Respect and Value Each Other: In these times of conflict and a society at social war within itself, I think that teaching about others is of vital importance. We are a society of different views, different beliefs, and different ways in which we define ourselves. We need to celebrate the diversity of everyone so that, perhaps, we can learn from each other and find commonality and unity in who we are.
Now and Tomorrow: I know it might seem odd, but I like this simple sentiment. Our schools need to focus on now and tomorrow. We don’t need to be stuck in the past with what we do. We must allow students not only live in the moment, to make decisions that can change their lives for the better, but to look toward making decisions for a better future.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board District 3.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
While thinking about my candidacy for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia, I have come to a conclusion. Education is an odd profession. I don’t mean the profession itself. I mean how we think of education. In almost every field, there is some board, governing body, or executive council that is tasked with overseeing the profession. For lawyers, it is the Bar Association. For doctors, it is the American Medical Association. Engineers? In Georgia we have the Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors. In each of these professions, experts in the field are tasked with making decisions. In fact, according to the state website regarding the Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, “The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Governor for a term of five years: six professional engineers, two land surveyors, and a member appointed from the public at large.”
So, why is it in education, the profession that has a direct influence on the future of society, do we give this task to lawyers, politicians, accountants, business people, and a host of other professions? Why isn’t the school board made up of educators?
Now, I do think that there should be representation of the community on a school board. However, like the Georgia Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, the bulk of the membership should be educators. In a 2009 study, the Council of Great City Schools found that only 14% of urban school board members were educators. This mirrors the 17% that I discovered doing research during my doctoral work.
So, why is it that we want professionals from the field to oversee other professions, but not in education? Being a teacher, educator, administrator, or other educational professional is not easy. It requires a degree. It requires certification. It requires certification examinations. Yes, representation of the community is important and essential to an effective school board. But, shouldn’t the bulk of decision makers be educators?
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board in Georgia. I was a public school teacher for 9 years. I was a program coordinator for two years. I have a Master’s and Doctorate in education. I have taught in a College of Education for 10 years. I have the requisite knowledge and experience to help lead Columbia County Schools.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
The other day I was talking to my daughter. She is a junior in high school. We were talking about college and school. She told me how much she loves to learn. She also told me how much she hates school.
As a father and educator, this troubled me. How can someone that says she loves to learn, hate school? So, we talked.
What I learned is that learning new things is exciting. Being able to think about new things is invigorating. Being creative is stimulating. But, in school, the system mutes these things. The day is filled with worksheets, memorization, and regurgitation. The day isn’t filled with discovery. The day is filled with lectures, notes, and preparing for tests. Then, it is on to the next topic. After school, there is homework. More of the same work. And the cycle goes on and on.
Children are creative and want to learn. Think about a young child. A child loves to color, to draw, to paint, to tell stories, to build things, to use clay, to pretend. But, by the time they get to middle school and high school, this has desire has been extinguished. How has this happened?
What is the focus of our education system? Our schools in Columbia County have high test scores. SAT/ACT scores are outstanding. Our AP pass rate is high. But, at what cost? Each of these are based on tests and measurements. What are the tests for creativity? Critical thinking? Inspiration?
Recently, I was at a school board meeting and there was a large recognition for schools that are finding high levels of success with PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports) which is a management and discipline system. We were celebrating behavior. Yes, there was a celebration of All State Band and other things, but where are we going?
We have a created an education system that is more about rewards than about knowledge, more about scores than about thoughts, and more about recognition than inspiration.
Do we have schools that educate? Of course. But, to what end? Do we want our children to know things or be able to do things? Do we want our children to be able to bubble in answers or create ideas? Do we want our children to know history or be historians, know science or be scientists, know literature or be writers, understand business or be entrepreneurs?
Our schools are successful at what they do. I just ask, is it enough?
If elected, I will work with the school board, the schools, the teachers, the administrators, and the students to create learning environments that don’t just prepare our children for test, but prepare them for life.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board, District. 3.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
The election is quickly coming upon us. It is May 22, 2018. In addition to primaries for other races, the election for the school board will be here. If you have had the chance, please visit my website, http://andrewtkemp.com/, to learn more about my campaign. Feel free to contact me with any questions. If you would like to have me speak about education, I would happily accept any invitation.
With that in mind, I have a few things I would like to share. First, I am looking for volunteers. I have cards and signs that I want to share. I need people to go door-to-door and get the word out about my campaign. I would love for people to host fundraisers and/or meet and greets. I am happy to talk to you about education. Please contact me if interested (firstname.lastname@example.org/).
Second, just so you know, I am a political person. I don’t mean that I play politics. I am certainly not a politician. I just follow politics and strong beliefs. I am sure there are things upon which we agree and things on which we don’t. However, my background is in education. I was a public school teacher/administrator for 11 years. I have taught in a College of Education since 2007. In fact, with the exception of one year when I worked for my father, I have been a teacher or students my entire life (well, since I was 5). My goal is to create an even better education system in Columbia County. I want an education for all students. I want every student to feel accepted, open, and have the ability to maximize her/his potential.
Please shoot me a message. Let me know how I can help.
My name is Drew Kemp. I am running for the Columbia County School Board-District 3.
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
I hope the fall is treating you all well. The weather is finally cooling down and the windows are open.
With the election less than 7 months away, I wanted to put more focus on why I am running. I am a parent and an educator. What I want most out of education is for my children to be critical and creative thinkers. I want them to be thoughtful about their decisions. I want them to be able to consider information and make informed decisions. I want them to be active members of our democracy.
We have excellent schools in Columbia County. Many of our students test at the highest levels. But, high-stakes testing is not enough. While the need for remembering information, understanding it, and applying it where it is appropriate is important, we need our students to be able to analyze information and evaluate the quality. We need our students to be able to consider various viewpoints. Ultimately, we need our students to be able think creatively and solve problems. We need our students to be doers.
This is what I want for my children. This is what I want for all children.
I order to do this, we must consider measures of success other than high-states tests and constant evaluation. We must allow students to make mistakes and not be punished for them. We must allow teachers the freedom to create meaningful learning environments that are not about the accumulation of information, but the use of information to solve problems, generate ideas, and be thoughtful citizens.
We can make our excellent schools better. We can loosen the shackles of constant testing and evaluation and move toward an innovative school system that is looking forward, not living in the past.
My name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the Columbia County School Board for District 3. Please give me your support by donating or volunteering for my campaign.
Friends, Neighbors, and Colleagues,
The election for the Columbia County School Board is on May 22, 2018. That is seven months from now. I need your help.
Over the course of the last few months, I have posted ideas from my platform, shared my beliefs, and given you my background in education. I have come to know a lot of you, had some fascinating conversations, and come to understand this community more.
Now, it is time to move forward. I, Drew Kemp, want to represent District 3 on the Columbia County School Board. I am an educator. I am a thinker. I am a doer. But, most importantly, and believe in an education for all students. In fact, this is my platform.
I believe that every student, regardless of socio-economic status, ability, gender, sexuality, religion, spirituality, race, or ethnicity has the right to a public education that not only allows for critical and creative thinking, but also begins to impart the skills to be a happy and healthy member of a democratic society.
The first thing that we need to do in order to accomplish this is to allow teachers to be the professionals they are. To be a teacher in Georgia you must have at least a Bachelor’s degree (and many have higher degrees), have completed an approved teacher preparation program, and passed state tests in education and content. A teacher must continue her/his education through professional development, additional college credits, and/or continuing education units. Teachers are evaluated every year, multiple times.
Yet, our system, the system, wants to create pre-fabricated lessons. It wants scripts. It wants homogeneity. Our students are not clones, nor should they be taught that way. Let teachers be professionals. Let counselors do their jobs. Let administrators be curriculum and instruction leaders. Let schools focus on critical and creative thinking and not test preparation.
So, join me in my endeavor to make our schools even better than they already are. As a member of your School Board, I want to create discussions about how we can improve on the excellence in our schools. I want to go into schools and talk to teachers, counselors, and administrators and come up with creative solutions to improving our already excellent schools.
So, I am asking for your help in one of the following ways.
My name is Drew Kemp and I am running for the Columbia County School Board.
We Need Avocados
Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
The way that schools are measured is basically a lie. Yes, I said it. Schools are measured on a number of things related to testing. It is a combination of achievement, progress, and comparison to peers. But, students, teachers, administrators, and schools are just reduced to numbers, scores, and statistics.
Why is it a lie? Because periodically the state changes the formula. In 2015, the numbers were adjusted. Points for achievement went down. Progress (students compared to similar peers) went up. Closing the achievement gap went down. In addition, in 2015, a new test was used. New norms. (http://www.ajc.com/…/state-revises-…/nX9lS09zZwQPaJHEfCYyrK/)
What does this mean? Test scores, school grades, accountability measures—they are all created numbers. They are fabrications trying to measure the unmeasurable.
Now, does it give information about students, teachers, and schools? Yes. Absolutely. But, it only gives a sliver of the reality of schooling. Imagine if you were to determine the quality of a recipe by the amount of salt in it. Salt, while important, is only a part of the bigger picture. What about all of the other ingredients? The other day I made guacamole. Here is my recipe:
1 Medium Vidalia Onion
1 Serrano Pepper
1 Plum Tomato
2 Tablespoons of Cilantro Paste
2 Teaspoons of Himalayan Salt
Now, when I made it, I left out the salt at first. I figured the corn chips would have enough. They didn’t. I added the salt. It was much better. Was the salt important? Yes, it was. However, it was only a part of the recipe. In fact, it was the least important part. I could have lived without the salt. I couldn’t have lived without the avocados.
What we need in looking at our schools is looking more at the avocados, the onions, the peppers, the tomatoes, and the cilantro. We need to look at student engagement. We need to look at the depth of the curriculum. We need to look at the integration of the community. We need to look at college readiness (and I don’t meat SAT scores, but the realities of college) and career readiness. We need to look at authentic measures of learning that have meaning.
My name is Andrew Kemp. I am running for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia.
Hello Friends, Colleagues, and Neighbors,
Just a few thoughts on this Tuesday afternoon.
I cannot express how important critical and creative thinking is. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time thinking about confirmation bias. Confirmation bias, the idea that any new evidence that we find fits in with our pre-existing beliefs and we force it to do so, is riddled with fraught. We have stopping thinking about issues and only think about being correct. We ignore evidence, disregard contrary opinions, and push aside conversations that are uncomfortable.
Do we want our children to be able to think, to analyze, to conceptualize, to evaluate, and to truly understand issues? Or do we want to continue with the oversimplification of ideas, the adherence to conformity of opinion, and blind compliance?
As someone that has had many a discussion online that has just become a rehash of the same arguments and the attachments of the same evidence, I know that we can do more. Our schools need to teach critical thought, debate, and how to have a meaningful discussion about subjects that matter.
With the overwhelming amount of testing, we are creating a generation that can read and write, but has nothing to discuss.
As a member of the Columbia County School Board, I will fight to decrease the influence of testing and bring our schools back to a place where critical and creative thinking is paramount.
My name is Andrew Kemp and I am running for the School Board of Columbia County, Georgia.
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.