Back-to-School signs and displays are in all of the stores, and the last days of summer are here. I can hear the seasonal songs playing: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” is my personal favorite! Students should be completing their summer reading projects. If you own a business that has a sign location and would like to list a supportive message for our teachers, please contact Pat Barber, the Manatee Education Association president at 746-1753.
A lot of things are changing in education. Evaluations for teachers are being reworked and there is a new curriculum administrator who is implementing common core standards in the district. These will hopefully align us nationally for grade levels and the final piece is to align the testing to the same common core standards. The end goal is to bring accountability and credibility to the state standardized tests. At a state level, the governor just appointed the chancellor as temporary education director. Communication and implementation of new standards are now the focus of our state education system and in Manatee County we have similar goals.
There is an election coming up next week and thousands have already voted! You can tell when there are campaigns from the mailers and signs all over town. I hope you will vote for the person you feel will best represent your county, state and country. You can find information on each candidate at votemanatee.com.
For our School Board, this election determines the direction of the district for the future. We have struggled and fallen from 24th in the state to 47th. We have recently changed the schedule to go back to full weeks, and I have not seen what the daily schedule will be for our students and teachers. A lot of changes have been made in the leadership of the district and there is a sense of urgency I hear from people who are not willing to wait, watch and hope we will do better in the future. They are expecting transparency and decisions made for what is best for students and their teachers and they expect accountability for the funds we receive and how we appropriate these funds for education.
I cannot speak for other board members or write about my position on issues coming before the board for a vote, but we can address past decisions and our goals. We are in the business of education and our goal is to do what is best for the students of the district. The learning happens in the classrooms and that rests on the shoulders of our professional teachers.
Last year, at the close of school our teachers were sent home with a contract that had a zero for an amount; this has never happened before in our county. We had a legislative session end early. We knew we would receive well more than $10 million in additional funding and yet, we did not seem to make teachers a priority in the budget process for 2012-2013. I have spoken to teachers who signed those contracts for zero to protect their positions in the district. Our neighbor counties have all completed their negotiations early and teacher contracts are established. Our superintendent surely had a dollar amount on his contract before he signed it.
We can, should and must do a better job for our students and teachers because our students need good teachers and our teachers need good students.
Years ago, we applied for passports and under profession for my children they are listed as full-time students. In their job, as full-time students, they learn to bring their personal best to class, complete their homework, participate in their day and be good citizens of their home, school and community. May our students and parents and community support our teachers, and my thanks to the teachers who bring their personal best to their classrooms every day.
Julie Aranibar, an East County resident, represents District 3 on the Manatee County School Board.