Campaign Description

Here's what this campaign is about:

Ensuring equal opportunities in curriculum and programming for all students

Providing our students and faculty with safe, healthy, technology-driven learning environments

Committing to our neighborhood schools

Guaranteeing responsible stewardship of public funds

Celebrating the diversity within our district

Engaging parents to become active participants in the schools

Making data-driven decisions with measurable results

Email us at or call 331-6746

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Teacher, I have a question......

"Happy wife, happy life."  That's the unofficial advice given by many married men to each other.  Often, this phrase is paired with a knowing wink of one who has dared to go against sage advice.  Those of us who have visited the dog house for something we've done, learn this lesson quickly.

In many ways this wisdom can be applied to our schools.  Although it doesn't really have that poetic ring to it, "Happy teachers, happy schools" isn't a bad credo to strive for.  I suppose it was my wife, the daughter of an Iowa City teacher and an English Ed graduate herself who continually reminds me of BOTH of these cardinal rules.

When I sit down and share with her my ideas for magnet school programs to give parents choices in their child's school calendar or pedagogy, her frequent response is, "What do the teachers think?"

When I share ideas that I have for lessening the achievement gap between minority students and their peers, she stops me curtly and asks, "Have you asked any teachers?"

When I get excited talking about the possibility of equity in our facilities, building new schools, broad redrawing of school boundaries and creative ways to implement the district's new diversity policy, her guessed it...."How do the teachers feel?"

I was reminded of this in a recent meeting when a teacher in the district shared with me that he understands the diversity policy and the research behind trying to equilibrate socioeconomic status in our schools.  He gets it. He understands how years of  data supports that children are most influenced by their peers and that the resources in parent sweat equity and finances are greater in middle income schools.  What he's concerned about, is that if teachers are the ones in the classroom, will they be a part of developing the plan for diversity policy implementation?

Another teacher friend of mine who has taught at both City and West as well as at the elementary level, recently confided in me that he really didn't need a new smart board for his classroom. He needed smaller class sizes and new textbooks.  His teaching needs didn't require the smart board as much as another classroom might.  He was thankful, but perplexed, as to why he, the teacher, wasn't asked what he needed.

A good writer always returns to what he knows (or so I'm told, since I don't profess to be a good writer).  I work at the VA hospital with veterans and I enjoy military history immensely.  I've often heard stories of bad officers and their follies, as well as leaders who earned, rather than demanded the respect of their troops. (Funny thing about titles and rank....people who insist on being referred to by a title or rank, usually are the least deserving of the accolades....something to ponder).  The best loved and most successful military leaders in our history were the ones who went to the frontline soldiers and asked them point blank "What do you need to fight this battle?"

So, here we stand. Our district is perched at the precipice of doing great things.  We can start to move forward and take groundbreaking steps that are reflective of who we are as a community and who we wish to be.  We can start to balance our district to ensure our children will have modern, technology driven, environmentally friendly 21st century schools and equal opportunities regardless of their street address.   We can start to decrease the achievement gap between minority students and their peers.  We can look ahead to begin shaping growth in our little corner of the world.  It's going to have to start from the ground up, though....not from the top down.  To do that we are going to have to not just turn to the community, we need to enlist the teachers.

I very humbly admit, I don't know everything about education. I do know a lot about my community. I do know how to listen.  I have faith that we can do this and we can tackle these conversations. I believe we will emerge a stronger school district and community with pride in what we've done.  My wife is's all going to have to start with the teachers.  So, Teacher, I have a question....what do you think?

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