Margaret Huron: Every district student deserves quality education
Great school districts don’t just happen — they require a concerted effort from the community, which is why I decided it’s time for me to be a part of that effort.
In recent years it has been apparent that finding candidates for school board is a challenge. Electing directors by district was revised in favor of at-large positions to try to open the field to more possible residents. Plus, I took my granddaughter to kindergarten at the start of this school year, bringing home the importance of public education in Steamboat once more.
As a parent and an educator, I know that children don’t all learn the same way, but it’s important to address those differences so children can reach and, even better, exceed their potential. In the classroom for 30 years, I addressed adult learning in the same way, by using as many methods of presenting material as possible and providing assistance outside the classroom. Teachers are highly gratified when they can see the results of their work as students succeed.
I have also read news accounts of larger school districts in Colorado facing divisive battles over school reform. At the heart of these is outside influence from individuals or political parties whose only interest is in molding school policy to conform to their personal ideology.
I am appalled at that interference and want to keep our local community needs as the driver of school policy. While Steamboat Springs schools can improve on their achievements, they don’t need reforming.
The topic everyone is discussing now is the bond proposal. One fact both sides of the issue can agree on is that schools are overcrowded. The elementary and middle school students are not in the best possible environment for learning that this community can provide, and we must address those issues with a solution that puts our children first.
In my experience with limited resources and budgeting, it takes creativity, inclusivity and good negotiating skills to prioritize spending where it will do the most good.
In other districts, curriculum has also been a point of contention when some school board directors determined a need to revise AP History to reflect their personal or political beliefs. The school board has a role in setting priorities and reviewing proposed changes in curriculum but should do so with leadership from our teachers, the content experts.
Children enrolled in our schools today come from diverse backgrounds and economic conditions. I think our school board must remain attentive to providing the widest number of opportunities to address those varying needs.
High quality pre-K programs have long-lasting effects on students, especially those who must overcome challenges. When we address disadvantage issues early, we eliminate problems such as high dropout rates, unemployment and increased crime later in life.
Lastly, I am concerned about the nationwide shortage of teachers. Compared to other industrialized countries, we do not value the profession or the individuals engaged in developing our youngest members of society.
Starting salary for a teacher is less than an IT specialist for the city, a nurse at the hospital or a police officer. Steamboat has many advantages to attract teachers to our community, but we have to retain them through recognition and valuing the work they do.
I am asking you to vote for me, Margaret Huron, so I can work to keep Steamboat Springs schools the best that they can be.
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Sherry Burlingame never imagined herself as a chief of police.