The Stakeholders of Chesapeake Public Schools—of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and walks of life—deserve “MOORE” from those deciding the fate of public education on behalf of the Citizen-Students of Chesapeake. The following items are not intended to be an exhaustive list of ideas, but they did seem like an appropriate way for us to start this journey, “TOGETHER.”
What else is public education designed for, if not to create educated Citizens? Children, our City’s Citizen-Students and future leaders, deserve a seat at all each and every table where decisions are made regarding their education. I support a formal relationship between Student representatives, from each High School in the District, and a single Board Member, who would act as an advocate for each High School and its lower-level “feeder” Schools. Not only would this ensure Students a seat at the table, it would provide invaluable “teachable moments” regarding our local government.
Immediate action is necessary from leaders, inside and out of our schools. There are some glaring racial and/or socio-economic disparities with regard to how security measures and disciplinary action are implemented in Chesapeake Public Schools. Though the District is collecting data, little has been done to address these disparities. Students deserve more than an Equality Council or another “taskforce” being appointed. They deserve action.
Education for the Twenty-First Century
Ready or not, technology plays a vital role in education. We have to get ahead of this learning curve, together. Chesapeake Public Schools is far behind neighboring Districts in this regard. The Official CPS Website is in dire need of an update, as is the technological infrastructure in all of the District’s buildings; Educators and Students are not being given adequate access to resources that they deserve; and members of the Public are being left out of conversations regarding this critical aspect of public education. The reason for that ‘Why?’ is $imple.
Empathy and compassion don’t cost a thing, but they can pay dividends! Teachers, Support Staff, and school-level Administrators have always shouldered a heavier burden than those who work “Downtown.” Although financial resources have been limited by declining enrollment and the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, State and Federal resources were not exactly bountiful prior. Still, an employer can compensate its employees in other ways. Grace and dignity happen to be tax-exempt.
Some academics have argued that all communities—local, State, and National—are “imagined.” To that end, Chesapeake Public Schools should work to ensure that some form of “cross-pollination” takes place among Stakeholders residing in separate Boroughs. For example, Hickory Students could work with Oscar Smith Students on a community-centered project in Deep Creek. Our City is diverse, and everyone should have a chance to learn and celebrate all of its communities, together.
I am committed to responding to communications from the Public, and I expect the same from the leaders I elect. Although there is quite a bit of data regarding public education made available to the Public, Stakeholders deserve more insight into the decision-making processes of our School Administration and School Board. Integrity makes transparency easy!
I am a proponent of modifications to our City Charter that would provide City Council some form of “checks and balances” with regard to our City’s School District. Building on my commitment to transparency, I would advocate for a stronger relationship between the Public, School Administrators (District and School-level), and other City Officials. Independent, civilian oversight of the District’s decision-making would help restore the trust between the School District’s decision-makers and the Public.
Leading FROM Chesapeake
We can wait for the VADOE to issue guidance and/or the Department of Education in D.C., or we can do what Chesapeake does best: We can start a revolution in public education on our Citizen-Students’ behalf! Since the Battle of Great Bridge, people from our region have charted their own path towards Richmond and Washington, D.C. Our School District should not rest on its laurels when it has opportunities to excel by inspiring other Districts in neighboring municipalities and across our Nation. This is our Students’ world, and we’re all just living in it.