Safe and healthy schools
I have some experience in the field of education. I have taught professionally in a facility designed to help high school students catch up and transition back from a stay in a local mental hospital. I have volunteered to teach in an ESL class and to teach GED to inmates at the City Jail.
My wife and I brought our child up attending both private and public schools in Alexandria. At 20 years old, our daughter has a Masters degree in Mathematics from the University of Chicago, is working on her PhD. and hopes to be a professor of mathematics.
The City spends a lot comparatively for education for our population. I have heard we spend in the top 1% per student , but the results are only mediocre. We are rated 118 out of 270 school districts in Virginia. Many families choose to locate elsewhere for better schools. For example Arlington, which has a similar population to ours, is rated 13th. Although I have a degree in architecture from UVA, I do not believe building expensive edifices should be the focus of our educational budget. Jefferson Houston cost 63 million to build with cost overruns of over 20 million dollars. Instead I think we need attract and hold the best teachers, some multi-lingual. We need to offer attractive salaries and we need to offer teachers opportunities and programs for staff development. Let's be known as the the school district with the best teachers. Studies have shown that of all the factors measured, dynamic and engaging teachers make for the best student outcomes*. Attracting and producing great teachers should be the long term focus of our City's educational strategy.
I have other ideas including a more flexible class system that allows for a student to easily be in a higher grade classroom in a subject they excel in and in a lower grade classroom for a subject difficult for them. However City Council has limited influence in how the educational budget is spent. As thankless a job as it is, we also need to encourage progressive and innovative folks to run for the school board.
I support fully funding our teachers and creating the best educational environment that we can.
*research.acer.edu.au -John Hattie