THE ISSUES AT HAND

Sam's Positions on  Important Issues Schools Are Facing

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DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

I know the school board does not make curriculum decisions, but they do approve additions of new materials as recommended by the Education Committee.  This year, 12 new texts for secondary ELA curriculum were added. it was a START.  I will advocate for MORE diverse texts in all subjects at all levels.


We must support all our students, especially those that do not fit the Lititz majority.  Their voices and their concerns need to be heard and their lives need to be reflected in our classrooms. 

Here is my longer blog about the importance of diverse fiction and non-fiction in the classroom; and the need to shift away from Eurocentric curriculum.


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COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Viewing a local  school as a third place community hub fits with the "whole child" approach and focuses on keeping neighborhood schools open, two things I fully endorse. The idea of place-based approach to education is not new. It can be traced back in theory to educational philosopher and the father of U.S. public education, John Dewey, and social activist Jane Adams. This idea of the community school has been revitalized in recent years, and there are currently 5,000 schools in the country operating thusly.

So what does this look like? The Coalition for Community Schools uses the following definition of a community school:

"Using schools as hubs, community schools bring educators, families, and community partners together to offer a range of opportunities, supports, and services to children, youth as well as their families and communities... Schools become centers of the community and are open to everyone - beyond school hours, including evenings and weekends."

Community schools don't just happen, and they do require additional funding and staff. With grants and community donations, Lititz could have great community schools. Two buildings are in higher density neighborhoods, where lower income families could walk to receive services. As our student population lessens, we can keep all four elementary schools open by converting unused classrooms to the community gathering spots, to medical clinic rooms, to counseling centers, to food banks, to after care centers for working parents.

This is a vision I have for our community in the coming years and decades

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SCHOOL START TIMES

I've been following the science of school start times since I was a teacher in Maryland in the early 2000's. It's a proven fact that teens are not getting enough sleep and they greatly benefit from a later school start time. Even a 30 minute shift has shown a rise in attendance and on-time arrivals, and more focus in the classroom. I know there are concerns that a later start time would cut into jobs and after school activities, but as an employer and a parent of a current WHS student, I don't think those concerns outweigh the health and educational benefits.  I applaud Dr. Troop at Ephrata Area School District and the new administration at Linden Hall for making that shift for the 20-21 school year. And while this year is far from normal, it is my hope that in the coming months other area school districts will learn from EASD's example and see the benefits to students and schools.

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YEAR ROUND SCHOOLING

I grew up in Europe, and while I attended Depart of Defense Schools with the traditional calendar, I saw my German and Italian counterparts and their "year-round" schooling. It is clear that taking three months off creates a "slump" for reading and computational skills, and educators spend much of the first few weeks of each school year "reteaching". Only about 4% of schools in the US have adopted the year-round model, which is a large increase from just 20 years ago. Personally, I like the model, as it stops the slumps and it gives teachers and students more breaks throughout the year to re-energize in the middle of what is now a long haul of classes from January to May. As we are no longer that agricultural country from 150 years ago when the school calendar was established, there is little need for the summer farming months to be without school. However, the calendar is SO ingrained in our culture and psyche, I don't see it changing anytime soon.