Control as Local as Possible
First of all, the classroom must be controlled by the teacher. Not by the administration, or by some people sitting in Charleston five hours away, but by the teacher who is in that classroom. The teacher is an educated, mature professional who knows how to manage a classroom, their student’s, and their student’s work.
Second, the local administration needs to control the local school. They need to do it in conjunction with the County Board of Education, which is an elected body that works for the people of that County. The authority for running that school system needs to reside in that County. It needs to function in conjunction with the People who elected the Board of Education. The People are the local parents, teachers, and taxpayers.
Third, we need to make the State Board of Education a consultancy rather than a directorate.
Instead of a bunch of people sitting in Charleston making decisions for how teachers need to run their classroom, they need to provide resources and recommendations on how you can meet the standard. We need to have Compendium of resources and experts that can provide any necessary or additional support that a teacher needs.
Paying Teachers Professionally
We need to have excellent teachers who know their subjects well, know how to manage their classrooms, and we need to let them do it. We also need to pay them because they are professionals. We need to audit the Department of Education and various other Departments in the Executive branch; cut the fat, then put that money directly into the classroom, specifically into the teacher’s paychecks.
The government works for the People. The school system is a part of the government and it needs to work for the People, which means the People need to have oversight over it through their elected representatives. One of the primary resources that we provide to any government agency is finances. The people have a right to know where their tax money is going.
Because of a court decision a few years back, the legislature no longer has the opportunity to look into the school system’s budget and determine where their money is going. So, you the People, through your elected representatives in the House of Delegates, who hold the power of the purse string, no longer have any way of knowing where the money is actually going in the school system.
Based on my research, however, a vast amount of that money is going to an inflated bureaucracy. We have far more education bureaucrats and administrators per student than other states. Now, in certain situations, that makes a little bit of sense because if you go to one of these schools that’s in a low density population area you’re not going to have that many students, but you still need your principal, you still need a librarian, and so on. At a certain point, however, the administration needs to be scaled back and that would provide for a massive savings, which then can be applied directly to the classroom. I’m convinced that is what needs to happen.
To summarize, streamline the administration, the bureaucracy. Use that money in the classroom, give local people control, teachers control over their classrooms, principals control over their schools, the local county board of education control over their county’s school system and I’m talking about funding. The state gives them the funding and they use it however they want and, then, they are held accountable for the results.
How Parents Should Support Teachers
Parents need to be directly involved, need to have the opportunity to be directly involved in their child's education. I’ve heard from teachers all over the State that a lot of parents are not interested. That saddens me terribly. I am very profoundly involved in my children’s education. The teacher’s do a great job. I understand that it is unfair that some parents won’t do their job. I know teachers are trying really hard to do some of the parents’ jobs. They need to be relieved of that responsibility. It’s not their responsibility. In addition to that, it’s not the teacher’s job to teach children how to behave. It’s the teacher’s job to teach their subject. They should maintain control of the classroom, yes, but actually training a student how to behave as a human being is not the teacher’s job. We need to have the option for another way to provide that training so the teacher can go on to teaching their subject.
Parents Have a Right to Direct Their Child’s Education
I believe that a parent has an absolute right to direct his child’s education, including the right to determine whether a child should be held back or not. Each student is unique, so the answer to that question is unique for each.
There are a lot of different options. We have other resources for providing instruction, for example, online. I’m not saying it’s the panacea. It’s not the “be all, to end all”. But, it is an option, and it needs to be used. Another option would be to have tutors, and I understand that sounds like I’m talking about something that rice people do, but my younger sister was a school teacher for years, she was very good, she actually wrote an entire 4th grade curriculum in another state that was used statewide. After she retired, she started tutoring. She chooses only students who are having severe problems, she has had an amazing impact on them, and she doesn’t charge much. The families are not well off, but she can make her own schedule, and she actually helps these kids out a lot. I think we could include something along those lines in our options that we offer. There are multitudes of options to be explored.