EDUCATION ISSUES

I Support More Funding for Education

Alabama does not fund education at a high enough rate or we could pay our teachers more, air condition and put seat belts in the buses, buy textbooks for every student, equip libraries properly upgrade rundown schools, have state of the art technology available for every child, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s show we value our future by investing in Alabama’s children.

I Support Raises for Alabama Teachers

Teachers motivate and educate our children–Alabama’s future. There’s not a more important profession. To attract and keep the best and the brightest, we must offer excellent and competitive salaries. Unless teachers obtains higher degrees, their salary will max out at $46,917. Let’s pay well, set high standards, and require that Alabama teachers excel in their jobs.

Close the Corporate Loopholes that Hurt Education but Benefit Big Business

In Alabama, income taxes account for more than half of the state’s Education Trust Fund. Those taxes, including corporate income taxes, pay teachers’ salaries. So at a time when the education budget faces decreasing state revenue and the end of stimulus money, conflict over those taxes isn’t surprising.  In 2008, the last year with complete records, 25 of the 59 biggest employers in Alabama paid no corporate income tax to the state. And, of the more than 1,000 firms operating in Alabama that declared more than $25 million in taxable income to the IRS, nearly a third paid nothing to the state. Small businesses are paying taxes to the ETF, the big companies should too.

School Accountability Act

School Accountability–sounds good doesn’t it?  Except the name is a Red Herring.  This bill takes money away from public education and diverts it to private schools.  I vigorously oppose this. It is one more piece of legislation that hurts public schools. Since the economy took a nose dive in 2007, public schools have had to cope with falling revenues. Superintendents in many of the District 5 systems have had to tighten their belts. Little is available for upgrades, teacher stipends for classroom expenses, technology, books, buses, and professional development. Poor, rural areas are already underfunded and are crippled by the loss of even more revenue.

The Alabama Accountability Act was originally passed to give money to children attending failing schools. Annual reports from organizations created under the Alabama Accountability Act show that about 70 percent of the nearly 6,000 scholarships went to children who didn’t attend failing schools. Let’s hold the Alabama Accountability Act Accountable for taking away money from the schools and kids that need it most.

Classroom Behavior

Discipline

Disruptive and disrespectful students shouldn’t be allowed to prevent teachers from teaching and classmates from learning. Let’s revisit “Codes of Conduct” and make sure they’re realistic. Too many kids are suspended or expelled for things that could be handled by the teacher or by the principal. Some schools have a ridiculous amount of expulsions or suspensions. If the expulsion rate is over 30%, we need to take a close look at what is going on and use creative strategies to engage students in learning so they won’t want to be disruptive.

Bullying

There has to be Zero Tolerance for any type of bullying. Parents send their children to school and expect them to be protected and safeguarded. Cyber bullying must be monitored and addressed. Bullies have parents too, and they should be made aware of what is going on, so they can be part of the solution. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes even teachers can bully. If I’m elected, I will take all reports of bullying seriously.

Vital Activities

Let’s give children outlets to expend some of their pent up energy from sitting in the classroom. Physical Education, Art, and Music are vital, and should be funded.

Less Standardized Student Testing

There has been entirely too much testing and too much time spent “teaching to the test”. Creativity and teacher ingenuity have suffered under “No Child Left Behind” and the many standardized tests that are now given. The new re-authorization of Title 1 brings welcome relief from the over emphasis on testing and returns more flexibility to schools. Yes, Alabama needs to know how our students score when compared to the rest of the nation, but let’s study and decide which tests give us the best information and drop the rest.  Alabama will save money and vastly improve teaching and student learning.

Foreign Language

I support offering a second language beginning in elementary school. The optimal time to learn a foreign language is preschool, so instruction should certainly begin in elementary school at the very least. Younger brains are more open to new sounds, and so preadolescent children are better at mimicking new sounds and adopting pronunciation. Why should American youth lag so far behind students from other countries in this area?

School Dropouts

By middle school an individualized plan should be developed with the full involvement of the family, so that a road map is in place for learners to follow. When students set personal goals and are helped to obtain them, they are far more likely to stay in school. Let’s make every learner feel valued and know they have a career path mapped out that will lead to a real job.

This is done by having teachers that respect students and know how to reach them with curriculum that interests those bound for college or who want to master a trade. Feedback from many parents whose children dropped out, indicate they feel there was not enough assistance offered and more accommodations should have been available.

Education has to find ways to make learning interesting and fun. Yes, FUN! New ways of learning and interactive ways of instructing are available. They’re out there!  We already know what engages kids outside the classroom. Let’s use those same tools in our schools to turn the lightbulb on for our kids. Games, interactive learning, videos, virtual reality, augmented reality, and apps. Let’s get rid of outdated methods that bore our kids to death– or into misbehaving and either dropping out or getting thrown out.

Career Tech

Alabama needs a strong, well-funded career tech program that prepares students for “cutting edge” space age jobs as well the traditional skills: welding, electrical, carpentry, masonry, cooking, sewing, child development, etc. Students benefit from knowing how to do the basic skills associated with cooking and home/car maintenance.  The old “Shop and Home Ec” classes were very helpful.

I support strengthening Career Tech and fully funding it. Also, let’s make sure that Alabama continues paying any fees charged students who take required credentialing tests.

What kinds of skills, training, and thinking will a child entering Alabama schools in 2016/17 need to compete globally when they graduate? What new inventions will have emerged that make the present way of doing things obsolete? Let’s continue to encourage STEM careers in girls as well as boys. Our schools must anticipate change and be ready so that our state will not be left playing second fiddle to anyone.

I Oppose the RAISE ACT

I am opposed to the RAISE  Bill that is sponsored by Senator Del Marsh. This bill drastically changes the way tenure and pay for teachers are calculated. Not one educator I’ve talked to is in favor of the bill, and I wonder why the Senator is sponsoring such an unpopular piece of legislation. It’s another example of the legislature assuming the Alabama Board of Education’s responsibilities. Unfortunately, when it comes to doing things that benefit public education, the Republican legislature has shown little interest.

The following article, written by teacher, Anne Palmer, and posted by Blogger, Larry Lee, outlines 10 reasons why Ms. Palmer is opposed to the RAISE legislation. This is only 10 of the numerous reasons the RAISE Act is so detrimental.

Top 10 ways RAISE could negatively impact student learning:

  1. It increases the likelihood that teachers will teach to the test, increasing the amount of class time preparing for the test, emphasizing scores and grades while actually de-emphasizing the process of learning;
  2. It increases days dedicated to testing, decreasing instructional time;
  3. It provides no framework for supporting critical thinking by the students in the classroom;
  4. It requires teacher evaluation by people unfamiliar with the class, the teacher, and the student situation, making such evaluators unable to evaluate the true student learning occurring in a classroom;
  5. It invites litigation of multiple types, which will drain money from the funds available for improving education for all students;
  6. It requires the creation of tests in multiple subject areas, when the creation of such tests will take a tremendous amount of time and will drain even more funds from education;
  7. It is likely to cause teachers to be afraid to innovate and reach the students in creative and successful but unconventional ways because the teachers may fear criticism or the loss of their jobs if they do not conform to perceived expectations;
  8. It is likely to cause students to suppress critical and creative thinking because they know that they will have a high-stakes test at the end of the course,and because they know that such tests are almost always computer-graded, with defined right and wrong answers, although precisely such critical and creative thinking is essential in a democracy;
  9. It is likely to standardize learning beyond what is desirable, suppressing particularly the high-end students’ critical, independent, and innovative thinking;
  10. It is likely for all these reasons to have serious negative effects in the classroom and beyond, in all the places where students should be able to use the knowledge they ought to be gaining in the classroom.

Reduce Paper Work Demanded of Teachers and Principals

Have a Beneficial Pupil/Teacher Ratio

Fund Professional Development

Ask Every Teacher to Put Homework, Test Dates, and Projects Online

Daily Recess

Free Tuition to Attend Community Colleges

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