These are the questions that matter to schools and school boards

The narrative must change.

I am a teacher. I have answered the call to be one because, among other reasons, I love working with children. All the teachers I know are the same. Sometimes we make mistakes. We continue to grow and learn, after all. Most of the time, we try to love children the best we can to help them learn and become productive, productive citizens. I also have children and I want the best for them in school like other parents. I trust and believe that their teachers give them the best of themselves. I never wondered whether or not they cared about my children.

But lately it seems that some people are buying into a misconception of teaching and learning… creating generalizations based on a small number of experiences. And rather than allowing their default setting to be love, kindness and respect… to marvel, grow and learn… the default seems to be vitriol and judgment.

Yes… the narrative has to change. Some school board candidates in the districts that matter most to me (and other districts too, maybe) seem focused on issues that won’t be problems until their term ends, or are concepts so advanced. that they are not taught at the levels we are dealing with.

Following:Opinion: In schools, parents should be partners, not clients

Following:Editorial: Iowa Needs School Boards Focused on Service, Not a ‘Personal Agenda’

Let’s not get caught up in this stuff. There are a host of other things that we need our candidates and board members to address. The following is a short list. Voters: You have to ask those kinds of questions. Further, even though these other elements exist as problems, applicants should remember that they will be called upon to take responsibility for serving others, not themselves. In addition, for candidates and voters who sometimes invoke their Christian faith as a means of justifying their position, they must reconcile that position with a message diametrically opposed to it. Loving and serving one another is a high calling, which we must take seriously. I try to believe that people are basically good. Please note that these are not people; it’s more about where we should focus. Let us ask ourselves:

  • Will you be working to increase the number of events that recognize and celebrate our diverse and growing student body?
  • Do you support the arts and the continuous improvement of facilities for them as well as athletics?
  • Are you going to advocate for an increase in the number of staff advisers at all levels?
  • Will you actively seek diversity among staff members to more closely resemble our various student bodies?
  • Will you be working to ensure that our district has a sufficient number of associates to help meet the needs of students with special needs?
  • Will you work with teachers to create calendars and schedules that will best serve students and staff?
  • Will you be bringing in experts to make sure budget decisions are both visionary and fiscally responsible?
  • Will you work amicably with members of the Education Association to ensure that a fair contract exists?
  • Are you going to put aside your own biases and opinions to do what’s best for the students, staff and the district you serve?
  • Will you read the Iowa Core to better understand what teachers at all levels are responsible for covering?
  • Will you trust the experts (education staff) when it comes to deciding how best to do this, as well as how best to meet the needs of the students?

These questions are more important – and last longer – when it comes to school board elections. It’s not about you or me or a personal agenda. It never has been.

Politics does not and should not exist in school board elections.

Because it’s about kids, school staff, and their ability to connect on a daily basis to make the most of their time together. It is the foundation of the grandes écoles. It always has been.

Candidates and voters must remember this. Indeed, the narrative must change.

Matthew Pries

Matthew Pries is a literacy worker at Waukee High School.

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