Smaller classes and pay for teachers that reflects the effort good teachers must put into their work if their students are to receive the kind of education they deserve and that the society, if it is to be a democratic one, must demand they have. Smaller classes in not, first and foremost, a numbers issue or a work load issue. It is an issue of type of education offered and the quality of education delivered. An informed society is essential to democracy but having and holding information is not enough. Individuals must know how to and be able to process information in order to determine what it means and how one should act in relation to those meanings. Getting at the meaning of things involves critical thought, the essence of which is thinking not just about the information one encounters, but about thought itself.
Teachers, to teach to critical thinking, must be thoughtful enough to be able to interact in meaningful ways with students growing as thinkers. That is, students must hear from their teachers not just what the teacher “knows” but of how the teacher thinks his or her way to understandings the teacher holds to be valid ones.
Teachers have to have the ability and the time to listen carefully to what each student has to say about what they know and understand and how he or she came to know what he or she understands. It is through exchanges of understandings and discussion of the process by which understandings are established that one comes to know how to go about thinking about things in a critical manner–This is what I know and this is how I came to know it. Conversation is the means by which the coming to know processes mature, the growing being discovering through conversation what works to get to plausibility and what does not.
Teacher pay must be such that those truly capable of teaching to thoughtfulness are attracted to teaching. The teacher, the good teacher, the truly viable teacher is NOT a delivery system, one who goes by the book, the textbook with its teacher’s manual and teaching made easy implements. The right kind of person for the job of teacher is one who thinks a lot, thinks deeply and critically, who knows the process through engagement in it. And that person knows how, as the instructional moments unfold, how to respond to those moments in such was as to cause students to think more deeply and more critically.
I WILL BE RUNNING FOR THE WASHOE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF TRUSTEES and smaller classes and reasonable pay for good teachers will be essential elements of my platform.