The greatest challenge in the Stamford Public Schools is to source and hire the best teachers we can; then, we must highly motivate our teachers to ensure student success. This shall not be an easy task with fewer young people interested in becoming teachers today.
Teachers do not often find motivation in extrinsic awards; yes, teachers deserve pay and benefits commensurate with the challenges of their work and the market place where they live and work. But, SPS does a very poor job, actually, no job at all, in working with teachers for intrinsic awards. Appropriate and meaningful recognition too often goes begging in SPS. Also, teachers far too often feel excluded in the process regarding their personal and professional growth. This, may I assure you, I know from my experience as a teacher and union leader, former SEA president.
There is no such thing as a minor issue as everything we do in and out of the classroom can and does impact students. And, our students come to us from many different backgrounds; therefore, we have no one size fits all solutions.
When reviewing policies we shall do so with the perspective of a teacher, that is, does this policy work for the students of the SPS. Does it help them learn? Does it advance their growth as individuals? These are but two examples of the things to consider in making school policy for more than 16,000 students.
Currently, we have several avenues for parents to engage teachers and administrators in their children’s education. We have regular report card conferences; Open School Night and, of course, parents can contact teachers and school administration including counselors as they deem appropriate. But, SPS has not had significant success in getting a broad swath of parents, particularly minority parents, sufficiently engaged.
We must then redouble our efforts to reach community leaders across the City to develop effective communication and strategies to increase the level of parent engagement.
The BOE works most closely with other City boards, specifically the BOF, only during budget development. This includes open meetings where parents (taxpayers) provide input on the school budget.
Also, the BOE works with the Board of Reps through its Education Committee and, later, approval of the budget including the teachers’ contract. But, ultimately, the taxpayers have final say in public funds are determined then spent.
The ballot referendum (charter issue) does not directly impact the BOE nor any of its workings. But, it does surely represent an effort to get more people engaged in local government. And, we believe more engagement is better than less as we have earlier noted with parent engagement. We base our candidacy on our experience as a teacher; we fully understand how to reach students and parents of all backgrounds. We fully understand the challenges of the teaching profession through our SEA leadership.
Also, we have a proven record of open and honest communication with building principals and central office administration including the Superintendent and her direct reports. More frequently than not, this work and the relationships nurtured resulted in mutual success for students and teachers. This is the core of our campaign.