Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The State of the Classroom Speech

Ms. Superintendant, Ms. Regional Director, Mr. Principal, Mr. Vice-Principal, distinguished faculty, honored secretaries, members of staff, students--good and bad, parents--involved and uninvolved, community:
Good evening. I count it a privilege to come before you and present the State of the Classroom Address. To praise our success, to appraise the "State of the Classroom," and to look forward to the year ahead.
If you would allow me, I would like to thank my family for joining me here tonight. My wife has survived another year of me. That should be enough for an applause. My daughter, not yet a year old, is brilliant, cheerful, and eager to learn. She is nearly walking, and I don't doubt that she will be leagues ahead of her peers.
2006 was a year of strides for the classroom. Some of my students who were targeted as below grade level readers, joined the ranks of us who are literate. Consider the story of Ramon. Having slipped through elementary school and junior high based on his outgoing and respectful demeanor, he entered my classroom unable to read at the high school level. Along with his peers, he rallied for positive gains and a successful year.
I tell this story to remind us that not every kid who fails to learn is a problem child from broken homes or minority parents. No, failure can happen to anyone.
It is our job to assess the situation and correct it. And that is what we did. Last year, students like Ramon took a four district mandated assessments and one state mandated assessment.
But we have not succeed in every aspect. Clearly those who did not reach standard last year need additional support to reach standard this year. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to make this happen.
The state mandates that we do something different and additional but continue to underfund those mandates. The Democrats want to raise taxes and the Republicans want to lower taxes. Our schools suffer while these partisan individuals argue over how to pay for all of their mandates.
We need a bold new outlook. One that will recognize the fact that my seniors have had to buy their own copies of books because we don't have the money to replace lost or damaged ones. Our state legislature has failed the institute of education. Our national government has created the most ridiculous oversight disaster since Reagan went Star Wars on the Soviet Union. No one knows if it will work or how to pay for it.
Additionaly, we need to protect our students. The biggest threat to their success is a lack of positivie parental influence. Sure, there are those that would have you believe that social status is more indicative; but I will suggest to you that parents who don't support or encourage their students have a more negative effect than lack of money. Parents who are supportive and promote the importance of education are more likely to raise successful students. We MUST hold parents accountable.
There is a push to simply spend more money. To dump money into education with no plan in place is as silly as throwing a dime into a fountain in hopes for a wish to come true. Vision is great. To have a vision for the future is essential to moving forward. But if that vision does not come with instructions, we will continue to waste money.
Much money is wasted on poor hiring. Our students deserve the best teachers. Drawn out hiring processes muddled by a complex application and interview process prevent us from getting the best and brightest of the future or current teachers.
Eliminiating the arts and technical classes does an injustice to the students that thrive in those environments. To leave those students behind in favor of AP classes is a form of discrimination. Yes, we need a place for the textbook thinkers. But, this world also needs the brilliant mechanic to fix our high tech cars and create the next beautiful memorial.
It is our duty to serve our students, and in doing so, we serve our community. Let us come together, united in our desire to be truly human. In the spirit of community, let us value each other and build a foundation through our classrooms that will continue to hold the schools of education together for years to come.
Thank you; God Bless you; and God Bless the classroom.


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