As I knock on doors and speak with parents and teachers, there is one pillar of my campaign that keeps being reinforced - Classroom Environment.
Of course, as a mom, I have seen it first hand with two daughters who come home from our District 7 schools complaining about it. As a substitute, I saw it with my own eyes as I taught in nearly every school throughout district 7.
It seemed the behavior of the children was out of control and, worse, it didn’t seem there were any repercussions.
For instance, during one teaching job, I had a third grader flip a chair and walk out of my classroom. This caused another student to follow. When I called the office to report it, they did not seem surprised, apparently it happens quite often.
Later in the day, the students were brought back into my class by the dean and, although they did not flip anymore chairs, the behavior was not much better.
As I have researched and talked to more teachers, I found out they are not feeling supported which has led to their increased frustration. This frustration is leading to a mass exodus of qualified and good teachers to other fields or counties where they feel more respected.
Discipline policies are a major issue in our classrooms and a problem that is affecting the social, emotional, and academic growth of all our children daily.
We must start by enforcing the district discipline policy strictly.
The district must look nationwide for examples of policies that work effectively
We must support and expand existing programs that work, such as Project 429, a local group started by one mom with a mission to stop bullying in our schools. She is working with just a few other moms in a couple of District 7 schools to reach out to the bullies and change their behaviors and actions through a positive program.
There is much more to improving classroom environment, such as
- Doing a better job addressing the needs of our Exceptional Student population
- Reducing unnecessary testing
- Providing freedom to teach as professionals
- Working with families and the community on broader issues
Of course, open communication between teachers, administrators, parents and the school board is essential. I will be accessible as your school board member. All parties will know me and feel comfortable enough to share anything that is not working in their environment.
This issue must be a priority as we work to improve the mental health of our young people. We can fix classroom environments but we have to work together. I look forward to it!