Today in school kids learn how to do math on old fashioned calculators that have not been updated since the early 2000s. All of that same functionality exists however, in the most basic, free, computer programming languages. Sometimes updating technology means saving money, and updating technology almost always means giving our students a leg up in the job market.
I will use my experience and knowledge to ensure that we have efficient standards for technology that maximize skills for students and minimizes costs to the tax payers. Integrating computer programming into mathematics programs is just one way we can improve learning while greatly reducing the costs to the schools and the parents.
Fix State Testing
There is no reason why our state should be buying standardized test material from a private, out of state, company when we have tons of skilled teachers who could easily put together a better test that would more accurately reflect the goals of our students.
We also need to question the idea of spending so many long hours, even solid weeks on standardized testing as a state. It is important to get a benchmark for student success, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of quality education. "Teaching to the test" will never be better than a teacher with the freedom to engage students and cultivate creative learning. Standardized tests are only a benchmark, lets not forget that.
Scientists have consistently demonstrated that high school students perform far better and retain more information when their school day starts a bit later. They have also proven time and again that the best way to close the performance gap between students of different economic backgrounds is to spread the school year to the whole year.
We need to have a real discussion about encouraging school districts to adopt schedules that work better with the students and the way they learn. We also need to expand our before and after school programs in a way that is accessible to struggling families so that poor students can get the same access to education that wealthier students have. We have one of the best K-12 systems in the U.S. but we can still do better.
How can our teachers focus on our students when they are busy worrying about how they can afford to stay alive? In the countries with the best education systems in the world one thing is consistent; teachers are paid very well. We need our teachers to be paid in a way that ensures that they are not having to worry about being financially stable. We want teacher pay to be competitive so that the best and brightest can view teaching as a legitimate career option.
When I was in the U.S. Air Force we weren't paid a lot, but we were always given a housing allowance that reflected the cost of living in the area. I would definitely like to explore the idea of giving a tax-free housing allowance to teachers that reflects the cost of living in their zip code.