Peter Gabor for Fairfax County School Board, Member at-large
[>>] The Board should focus on academic issues
[>>] Improve test scores
[>>] Reduce teacher attrition
[>>] Support diversity / inclusion - Work within the law
[>>] Build community values
[>>] Parent involvement
Education is a collaboration between the teacher and the parents to the benefit of the student.
The policy of a minimum 50% grade for minimal work does not seem reasonable to me, nor does a 50% entitlement for cheaters. In the current version of the Grading and Reporting Toolkit I see: "As noted above, guidance around the rolling gradebook has been clarified to note that increased opportunities for students to show mastery is the primary benefit of a rolling gradebook." This was certainly not my purpose in setting up rolling gradebooks over 10 years ago so I was quite surprised to see FCPS's declaration.
I would also like to see the "Toolkit" changed to a regulation, so that A) it is not so malleable and B) it is more transparent for students, parents, and teachers alike. In addition, I am concerned about a new policy coming down the road where teachers are no longer to recommend what follow-on classes a student should take (think Calculus AB vs. BC after Precalculus or honors vs. non-honors for the following school year). ALL of these fall under the category of creating more work and less time for the teacher, which is one component that drives teacher attrition.
[>>] A small but important improvement
Can you imagine that the way that announcements from a course work is that the teacher has no chance to put a subject. I've reported this multiple times, including to our Schoology rep and been met with indifference. Therefore, the students get an email that says something akin to "Announcement from Math" every single time though the whole year. Imagine every email from your friend Maria was entitled, "Email from Maria." Why are we doing this to our FCPS children?
About four years ago, FCPS issued Dell laptops to all its students (I think). As the lifetime of these laptops is winding down, FCPS has replaced them with Chromebooks, which are more limited in capability, and mostly useful for their ability to browse web pages. While this may be OK for the majority of students, it significantly curtails the ability of FCPS teachers to teach programming in an equitable manner since only the more affluent parents will be able to buy a 'normal' laptop for their child. My understanding of the FCPS response is, "We're giving each student a crippled laptop so it must be equitable." Does this seem reasonable to you?
[>>] Local autonomy
Each school should have as much autonomy as possible to honor its own community's sensibilities.
One of the strongest correlations between a non-school topic and doing well at school is the game of chess. Students who do well at chess have a strong ability to focus for an extended period of time on a topic, and that bodes well for learning. I would encourage chess to be added to our elementary and middle school programs throughout the district. It's comparatively low cost, with little downside and potentially very beneficial.