As a National Board-Certified Teacher and an educator since 1990, I often wondered why Henderson County’s school board was not composed primarily of teachers. Decisions about curriculum, personnel, and safety should come from those who have been trained and understand best education practices! So how do we take our school system to the next level? How do we become the best school system in the state of North Carolina?
We Must Advocate for Universal Pre-Kindergarten Classes
Henderson County Schools could be the top school system in the state if we took advantage of early literacy intervention. Currently, we only offer the ‘Smart Start’ program to a small number of economically disadvantaged students. When the class-size reduction takes place over the next two years, even those offerings will be eliminated! Students who attend preschool perform at much higher levels by the time they reach third grade, and in fact are more likely to graduate and lead productive lives. Polk County has invested heavily in pre-k classes, and it is no coincidence that their schools are currently ranked sixth in NC, far ahead of Henderson County.
We Must Focus on Real Safety Measures
To create a sense of safety, our school board and local law enforcement recently added more school resource deputies and increased the number of “active shooter” lockdown drills. 92% of the students and teachers fatally shot during school shooting incidents have been sitting and waiting for harm to come their way. Expert advice says to “run and hide,” not “sit and wait.” Even trained shooters have less than a 4% accuracy rate when a target is in motion. We should adopt common-sense measures like metal detectors and security cameras, but most importantly we should show our teachers how to get students out of the building!
We Must Stop the Over-Testing of our K-2 Students!
Why are we constantly, relentlessly pulling our youngest children out of the classroom and giving them standardized tests? Why are we creating test anxiety for students as early as the first grade? This is not mandated by the state. Our current school board is allowing this to happen because they have no understanding of why this is a bad idea.
We Must Focus on Curriculum Assessment and Funding
Everyone knows that a successful school board should be made up of a mix of different backgrounds and experiences. There should be businessmen and women, contractors, and professionals on a school board. But does our current school board, none of whom have any K-8 teaching experience, have the right kind of experience when it comes to curriculum? Do they know how to invest limited tax dollars in educational materials and do they know how to leverage that to achieve the best results? I have written several successful grants that have brought in millions of dollars to the schools. What I bring to the school board is an ability to discern best educational materials and ideas of how to fund and sustain such programs.