Education of our students should be balanced, meaningful, and inclusive of all students.
Children are so much more than a test score. It is so often the arts and extracurriculars that drive our students. My youngest daughter was passionate about theatre and my oldest about soccer. It was these outside interests that helped drive their engagement in school. We talk about the need for skills in collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. The arts, music and other extra curricular activities provide great opportunities for our students to develop these other critical skills. We need to incorporate multiple measures in evaluating student learning to better reflect and communicate growth of the whole child.
As a professional in public education, I am continually reading about best practices in education, attending conferences and working with experts in the field in order to learn more and keep current. Public education is about closing opportunity gaps and opening doors for each and every student in the district. This is true for students with special needs, students learning English, students who are gifted and talented, and for all students.
For children with special needs, the funding shortfall is significant. The federal law requiring schools to meet the needs of students with disabilities — Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — offers current federal funding of approximately 16-17 percent of the actual cost, and not the 40 percent standard set by initial legislation. Currently, Colorado school districts are reimbursed approximately 17 cents for every dollar the federal government requires we spend on education under IDEA. As a school board member, I would advocate for full funding of IDEA.
By building on a foundation that values every one of the 68,000 students our school board is charged with servicing, Douglas County School District can build on the important work underway.