Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't shortchange our kids or our teachers!

Now, I know that decisions are never easy when budgets are tight and it is much easier to sit on the sidelines and second guess than it is to be on the board making decisions.  However, as I watch our current board go through the budgeting and planning process, I cannot help but think about what the priorities should be.

What I would hope is that we would keep as much of the budget in the schools and the classrooms as we possibly can.  I do not like the idea of increasing teacher loads (having teachers teach more classes).  I would much rather see some of our assistant principals teach a class.  It used to be the case that some assistant principals also had some teaching duties but this is no longer the case.  I also wonder if any our administrative staff (some of which were promoted out of the teaching ranks) could be reassigned to the schools.   I think it is entirely possible that some of these folks might even be more effective  if they worked closer to our students and with our faculty. 

Now, I know that there has been an increase in administrative (paperwork) demands over the last 35 years and I know our student demographics have changed.  I know that we are doing a better job of serving special needs children (which is mandated by the Federal government).  However, do not be misled, our school enrollment today in Forsyth County is almost the same as what it was in 1970.  Our staff size has approximately doubled.  Overall, we do not seem to be doing a better job of educating our youth.  Somehow, when we look as these numbers we need to figure out how to be more efficient.  In a large part, I think it ultimately boils down to having good teachers in the classroom, having an administration which gives them the resources they need and the freedom to do their job. 

As it stands now, our school board is charged with setting policy but relies heavily on the administrative staff of the schools to provide the policy alternatives to consider.  There are some good reasons for this but I would like to see more ideas presented to the staff rather than relying on the staff to generate all the ideas. I would not expect the administrative staff to suggest ways to fundamentally reassign and reorganize the administration.  That may or may not be what is needed but it certainly needs to be an option on the table.

I don't have a vote on the board (yet) and I have not had time (yet) to fully research some of these ideas, but I can promise that, if elected, I will be willing to consider all options; I will do some of my own research; I will be available to listen to ideas from the community.  (Speaking of which CHANGE has some good ideas regarding education.)

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