Iowa City school board: Clear, specific goals and accountability

My name is Shawn Eyestone and I am running for a seat on the Iowa City Community School District’s Board of Education. I announced that fact with a very simple thought that we should ask our teachers for ideas that will help them in the classroom. I believe that teachers would have the best ideas of what changes, other than simply reducing class sizes, would help them.

A few days after my announcement, I received a letter from a retired teacher. In the letter, this teacher stated that in 20 years of teaching in our school district, “I was not asked once for my opinion as to the needs of my classroom and students.” The letter also contained the line, “teachers are not being allowed to teach basic academics”. I wanted to thank this teacher for their honest words. I understand that this is one person’s perspective, but if any teachers or students feel that we aren’t providing them with as much help and direction as we can, we have failed the system.

I think the key word is direction. Our teaching staff has accomplished incredible things the last several years without specific districtwide goals for our students. The current board has taken some steps to do just that. I am very interested in continuing that process. Creating clear specific goals for the district in regards to student achievement and having every board decision made with those goals in mind will yield even more incredible results. The board will play a key role in this process.

If the board will be holding our building administrators and teachers accountable for achieving these goals, then they themselves have to be held accountable for providing every possible resource to be successful. Teachers don’t need more responsibilities added to their plates. They do need their responsibilities clearly defined and aligned with the specific goals set out by the district.

We recently went through a goal-setting process at work. Individuals were directed to create their own personal goals which were to be aligned to the overall corporate goals. This was met with quite a bit of resistance because it wasn’t something most people had done before. This apprehension has subsided as people realized that the clarity the goals provide yields positive results. Your vote for me will help ensure this approach will grow from idea to reality for our district.

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