Every child should have the opportunity to learn and achieve in a secure and nurturing environment. This requires schools that are safe, manageable classroom sizes, challenging curriculum, and a commitment to equal access to all students. Though these are not the only criteria that will insure our children’s success, they form the foundation essential to creating successful students.
Parents and teachers stress school safety and order among their highest priorities. Studies show that it is rare for violent crimes involving children to occur in school and schools remain one of the safest spaces for our children. However, we must not rest on this knowledge and must constantly strive to make schools the safest environment possible. Many children with persistent behavior problems lead volatile lives. Every school should have the resources necessary to provide an organized and stable environment. That is why I support:
- Rigorously and fairly enforced discipline codes that are supported by the entire community
- Prevention and intervention strategies that are based on defensible research and well tested methods.
- Programs that provide behavioral, academic support, mentoring, skill development, and assistance for at-risk students and their families.
- A commitment to high standards for safe buildings and school safety plans that protect students from dangers from outside of school.
Reduce Classroom Size
Research has shown that reducing class size, particularly for younger children, has a positive effect on student achievement overall and an especially significant impact on the education of disadvantaged children. Large gains in both math and reading stem from more effective teaching and more focused learning. Smaller class sizes allow for more teacher-student interaction and present to teachers the opportunity to recognize the needs of individual students and customize instruction and assignments. Students in smaller classes create fewer discipline problems and engage in more pro-social behavior, allowing teachers to devote more time to instruction and less to controlling the class. Smaller classrooms are more pleasant and have fewer distractions.
- Ideally, every Virginia classroom should range in size from 15 to 19 students.
I support charter schools that embody the core values of public education in a democratic society: Every student should have equal access to these schools, academic standards should be high, their workers should be protected; and each school should be committed to helping all public schools better serve the needs of their communities. Like all of Virginia’s public schools, charter schools should meet the following criteria:
- Be tuition-free, not-for-profit, and open to all students.
- Transparent and subject to full disclosure of finances, curriculum, student demographics and academic performance.
- Meet the same standards that are required of other pubic schools.
- Work in cooperation with local school districts and their stakeholders.
The top priority for our schools is to prepare each student to compete for jobs by providing a well rounded and challenging education. This is only possible through a rich curriculum that takes students beyond basic skills and provides enrichment critical to the development of an entrepreneurial and knowledge based workforce. We are often led to believe that only certain schools are able to provide students with this critical component of success. However, every school should aspire and have the ability to provide every child with equal access to a competitive curriculum. This includes:
- Making sure children are exposed to the rich content that will propel them past the notorious fourth-grade reading slump.
- Providing hands on experiences for our students beyond the classroom.
- Renewing our commitment to technical education.