Life has given me multiple perspectives over the years when it comes to education.
At one point, I myself was a student. I can still remember what that experience looks like through the eyes of our eager and idealistic youth. In fact, I was even a member of the first-ever cohort at the Oregon State University’s Cascade campus in Bend years later, while raising my three kids, and recall it fondly.
As a parent, I’ve seen my own three children make their ways through the system, from elementary to middle to high school.
There’s also the 23 years that I’ve spent working in education. I’ve been a teacher’s assistant at a group home and for foster youth. I’ve taught K-12 as a substitute. I’ve taught high school English. I’ve taught at a charter school whose student body was 95 percent minority. I’ve taught at an alternative school and worked with students who had behavioral issues. To this day, I can proudly say that I’m certified to teach English as a Second Language.
In other words, I know the classroom inside and out.
Being a student, a parent and a teacher over the course of a few decades has shown me the ways in which education has evolved, for better or for worse. I’m sufficiently concerned about the direction it’s going that I decided to run for Beaverton School District Board of Directors, Zone 1.
I want to be a voice for the many parents out there who feel that our schools need to be teaching appropriate curriculum that will set our students up for success in the future.
Our schools had long emphasized the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and building on those so our students can be employable and functionally literate. They need to be equipped to get by in our complicated modern world, so skills like how to balance a checkbook are more important than ever.
However, it seems that more time and energy is now being spent on questionable areas like comprehensive sexual education and critical race theory. I feel that this is a slippery slope that compromises the quality of education provided to our impressionable children.
It isn’t just our students and parents, though. As a longtime educator, I’ve seen the teaching profession go from one that could be done for decades and up until retirement to the average stint shrinking to a mere five years or less. Teachers who genuinely care about their students are being pressured, through the influence of special interest groups and administrative fiat, into deviating from critical areas of instruction into ones with particular political and social agendas and aims.
Classroom discussions about issues like “social justice” are polarizing and deeply political, largely because of the differences in perceptions and perspectives about what exactly it means. Open conversations about these kinds of topics should definitely be allowed and encouraged, to the extent that they don’t become lessons in indoctrination. Our children should be taught how to think for themselves, not what to think.
Similarly, any sexual education taught in our public schools should be age appropriate and include parental involvement. It should not be a forum for personal views on political choices or adult issues.
Ultimately, our children, especially in elementary school, are still developing. They need to be free from distractions and being subjected to philosophical views, unless they’re presented in an objective manner that doesn’t undermine or attempt to replace parental responsibilities.
Elected school boards exist for the sake of giving citizen representatives the opportunity to review and approve curriculum to make sure it’s appropriate for the community. As your next school board member, I intend to take this role and duties seriously, so our local educational institutions focus more on preparing our children for the real world, teaching fundamentals, and building back basics.
Please feel free to contact me with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanette Schade for Beaverton Schools