Informing Our Future

  • I am the product of Public Education.
  • I am the parent of two daughters who excelled in public education including college.  Both are professional now thanks to public education–one is a CPA and one is an RN pursuing a higher degree. 
  • I am an advocate for Bright Futures and Florida Pre-Paid programs for working families as both of my daughters benefited from these programs.  
  • I am an advocate of Public Education.
  • I have been a public school educator for 35 years.
  • I have earned all four of my degrees in public institutions.  
  • Public education is the last great democratic institution our country has–we take everyone, we help everyone, and we work toward a better future for everyone.  Public education works.  

Theory

Dynamic Systems display sensitive dependence on initial conditions.  Chaos Theory explains that any small change in a dynamic system’s initial conditions can have drastic effects on the outcome.  Applying this to education, programs in place decades ago may not be as effective today because of changes in the “initial conditions” from when the implementation of the programs began.  In the past, we have seen mass school shootings and a pandemic.  Educational programs, appropriate pedagogy, and government funding will need to be examined and altered to address the needs of today’s students.  Social, emotional and safety initiatives need to be created and implemented to maximize the development of each student’s analytical mind and creative thinking capabilities.  Our kids are our greatest resource and their resilience and efficacy need developing to help them move into the future purposefully.

Funding

Resources need to be allocated to school districts to offset the inequities of funding through the use of local property taxes.  Property tax revenue needs to be equitably shared among homeowners, renters, and corporations. 

Resources also need to be distributed to school districts keeping educational outcomes in mind.

“Close the school funding gap” 

Prioritize and expand funding for STEAM education for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds!  Add the “A” for the arts!  We need to incorporate creativity and curiosity into the curriculum to make sure our students are future-ready!

AROI — academic return on investment — has countless potential.  Each student we keep out of the social network system or prison pipeline adds to the economy.  Each student who has college and career training builds our future as a society. 

Merit scholarship programs like Bright Futures must be protected to ensure equity and access to higher education.  

Early Childhood

Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) for ages 4-5 to augment cognitive, affective and psychomotor development, which is so rapid during this age.  

VPK:  encourage participation, make more accessible, provide resources.  (Program is only implemented in three states, including Florida.)  Data shows the immediate rewards of early childhood intervention.

4-year-olds are very creative and intrinsically curious…so there is a need to set the tone at a young age to have kids love to learn!

Head Start is offered through the Department of Health to low income children & families and provides health, nutrition, and parent involvement services.  The Head Start model benefits children and families to such an extent that it needs to be expanded. 

This implementation fosters the love of learning and establish a skills foundation for life. 

School Choice

Students should have public school pathways to seek the opportunities they desire, i.e. magnet schools (for arts or science), technical schools, career schools, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs, and early college dual enrollment programs through public school options.   Public schools should offer transportation initiatives to allow for access for all.

Taxpayer dollars should be allocated to the public school system.  Private school vouchers and unregulated for-profit charter schools siphon much-needed funds from already-depleted public school coffers. 

Charter Schools must be held accountable and meet the same standards of transparency as public schools, with regard to civil rights protection, exceptional education, racial equality, admission practices, disciplinary procedures and school finances.  

K-12 Curriculum

Implement STEAM education to expand the skill set of our students to succeed in college/career, allowing focus on critical thinking and analytical skills needed in engineering, science and math but without disallowing access to arts and humanities education to create the whole student.  

More research needed about the challenges and benefits of testing–reliance on norm-referenced, valid tests to gauge student growth but moving away from for-profit testing companies.  

Place more focus on instruction, building positive classroom relationships, and intervention strategies to promote student growth.  

Access to high quality curricular materials and authentic professional development to help teachers adapt to digital and 21st century needs. 

School Climate

Sustain a safe and supportive school environment by having a law enforcement officer trained in child and adolescent psychology positioned in schools.  Teachers are never to carry guns to school; we need to leave the law enforcement to trained experts and focus on support, instruction, and intervention.

Foster an atmosphere in which School Resource Officers are integrated into the school community and build relationships with students, parents, and staff members to increase safety, security, and support for learning. 

Resources should be provided to create personnel positions to help students with mental and emotional health and development.  Positions include:  guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists.  Guidance counselors should not be merely test coordinators nor schedulers as they are at so many schools now.

Protect the rights of the LGBTQ+ students and foster anti-bullying school environments. 

Ensure equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities.

Social & Emotional Education Initiatives

Florida mandated mental health training taught by classroom teachers in the wake of the Parkland mass shooting trauma with good intentions, but its implementation placed a burden on students and teachers.  Trained staff needs to be made available to facilitate valid and meaningful training with teacher support.

Increase the number of psychologists, counselors, and social workers in schools.

Integrating social and emotional learning strategies into existing curricula to help both teachers and students. 

Definitive research shows the advantages for creating a safe, supportive emotionally healthy learning environment for all stakeholders and it is the moral and ethical choice for students and staff.  

Higher Education

College education is out of reach for most middle-class families now and approaches to financing higher education sustainably need to be explored.

Implementing affordable access to state college level education for AA, AS, or certification programs should be a national goal.  The K-14 model instead of K-12 can help revitalize our entire economy.

Limitations on private lenders charging usurious interest rates to college students are essential. 

Debt forgiveness and research into compound interest rates from private lenders can help prospective college students manage their expenses and seek professional careers. 

FAFSA awareness and assistance needs to be in every high school to make students and families aware of what is available for them.  

Teachers

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to show how important teachers are!  When COVID-19 affected in-person learning in the spring of 2020, teachers pivoted to a radically new learning system and maintained services for even our vulnerable populations.  When we shifted to a hybrid model in the fall of 2020 and essentially worked two full-time jobs simultaneously we did it with grace.  Teachers innovate, teachers design, and teachers care. 

Under Republican measures in the last two decades teaching has been deprofessionalized.  Our teachers need nationwide support and the respect of their profession restored.

We must increase salary and improve benefits in order to recruit, retain, and reward high quality teachers.  

Even with the highest degree in my field, I still have to work extra jobs to support my family (and two dogs!) due to the inequitable wage system in our country.  I don’t shy away from hard work, and neither does the American people.  But here in Central Florida, a service economy, even professionals struggle to meet the median rent of 1400 per month without multiple jobs.