As new Board of Ed candidate Shaver prepares to take office, she is laying out a pretty sound agenda:
Shaver said priority number one would be to hire a new commissioner of education after former commissioner Bob Corkins resigned recently. Shaver said she thought the new commissioner would need experience in education and managing large groups of people, along with communication and financial skills.
After that, Shaver said there are several key issues to work on.
“When I was out campaigning and talking to folks, parents, teachers, everybody is concerned about No Child Left Behind and the regulations for that, the testing involved,” Shaver said. “I believe there has to be some attention given to reviewing that. That’s at the top of a lot of folks’ agenda.”
Shaver said another issue included the teacher shortage.
“We talk a lot about teacher shortage,” Shaver said. “It doesn’t seem to be as critical in this area, but it will be. So I think the state board needs to look at how to solve some of those issues.”
One issue I’d love to see the Board tackle would be ways to better integrate technology into teaching. That’s a subject that a lot of the candidates for Commissioner of Education had focused on last time around, and I expect that the best candidates this time will have a similar emphasis.
Technology can help address shortages of expert teachers in some rural areas by providing long-distance teaching or other assistance from expert teachers in fields that over-stretched school districts sometimes have trouble hiring.
And in tackling teacher shortages, I’d emphasize the importance of teacher retention as much as teacher recruitment. People may sign up to teach with the best of intentions, but any teacher you talk to has horror stories galore, and very little in the way of official perks to balance those out. No surprise then that teacher retention rates nationwide are quite low, and that programs like Teach for America have had to re-organize themselves in order to keep their trainees working in schools that badly need bright, enthusiastic teachers.
Bringing in a Commissioner of Education who cares about public schools and rescinding standards that put teachers in awkward binds between the truth and Board required material will obviously help, but undoing the bad decisions won’t be enough to stem the flow of teachers out of the state or the profession.