The following speech was read by a parent at the Pasco County School Board meeting on January 19, 2016 (reprinted with permission from the author):
Hello, School Board Members and Superintendent Browning. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.
Tonight, I would like to give you a parent’s perspective on my vision for education in Pasco County.
I would like ALL schools to have the resources and support they need to succeed, not just those determined to be high performing based on an invalid test and an arbitrary school grading formula created by politicians.
I would like authentic assessments to be used for their intended purpose – to inform teachers and personalize learning – NOT to evaluate and punish teachers or schools, or simply to compare students against each other within the district.
I would like decisions to be made by people, not by data.
I would like personal information collected about my child to remain private, and not made available for corporations that stand to profit from education.
I would like teachers to be respected as the qualitied professionals they are, and for them to have the autonomy and flexibility to do the job the district hired them to do.
I want all classrooms to allow children to learn in the most appropriate ways, as determined by educators, not by businesses or politicians.
I want children to receive a well-balanced education that includes studies in arts, humanities, social studies and other important subjects – not just popular buzz words like “STEM.”
I want teachers to look forward to going to work every day.
I want students to enjoy going to school each day, instead of worrying about what test they have to take.
I want ALL publicly funded schools to be held to the same expectations for accountability – not just traditional neighborhood schools.
I want technology to be used as a supplemental learning tool when it is developmentally appropriate, not as the primary means of learning, to the point where it is replacing teachers in some situations.
School Board members are elected to protect public education, and yet it seems to be falling apart around us. I want you to make the tough decisions and fight the tough battles. I know it’s hard. But, if parents, teachers and even students can fight, so can you.
I’ll leave you with a quote from a Pasco County High School student’s TEDx speech last year, when asked about the changing face of education:
“The standardized education system is effecting teachers and their ability to teach their students…..Instead of learning what they need to learn, they’re learning what the state is forcing them to learn.”