Every year I put in the hard work to see my classroom of 25 students receive a quality education. I strongly believe that all students across our state deserve a quality education, regardless of where they grow up, who their parents are or what school they attend. I am running to further this cause. To improve our schools, I bring the experience that matters most: in the classroom, with kids, educating. There is no substitute for this experience, and actual classroom teaching should drive our conversation in education reform.
The most crucial part of our schools is our teachers. I am a teacher, and I will stand up for my profession to be respected and valued. There are many moving parts to a school, but quality teachers are what move our children forward. They deserve a voice at the Legislature.
To improve our schools, teachers need to be rewarded for what they do in their classrooms and schools. Teachers who bring their students farthest along, or demonstrate the most student growth, need to recognized. Teachers who take leadership roles and additional responsibility in their schools need to be rewarded. This is not currently the case. As a teacher, if I want to move up the pay scale, I need to earn Professional Development credits, which typically consists of classes, writing reflections and reading books. I believe this is an important part of the teaching profession, but should not be the sole means to reward teachers. Instead of focusing on what teachers do outside their classrooms, we need to focus on what they do inside their classrooms and schools.
Next, our state needs to create a comprehensive system for our keiki to attend preschool. Preschool not only prepares students to be ready to learn on day one, but also is the best place to learn values like caring, sharing and curiosity. Research shows that a preschool education among low-income children leads to adults with higher earnings, lower incarceration rates, and higher rates of home ownership (among other benefits). Beyond a test score, these are the outcomes that we should care about.
Finally, our goal as educators should not be students who are proficient test takers, but students who test the limits of creativity and innovation. As a result of an intense, singular focus on testing, there is a gap between what parents want to see from their schools and what schools are forced to do. We need to make smart and practical investments in spelling, history, music, physical education, art and more in school. I will work to make sure our public schools produce individuals with a well-rounded education that are ready to lead us toward a brighter future.