School Safety

Hello, District 96 voters!

With public schools starting this week, I’m talking again about education, in particular, addressing school safety issues. For many of our young people, the first week of school is both an anxious and exciting time. For students starting school, or starting at a new school, there can be a lot of uncertainty about the year ahead – about teachers, classes, friends, or simply fitting in.

What there should never be uncertainty about is school safety. But, as we know, this is a concern. We’ve seen the tragedies continue to unfold – and have real fears for our own childrens’ safety.

What are we doing about safety in our schools for our students?

Our state legislators are not properly addressing this important issue.

The following statement is from Public Schools First NC, which is a statewide nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused solely on pre-K – 12 public education issues. Says it perfectly.

I support legislation that works towards creating safe, secure schools for all our students and teachers including:

  • keeping guns off schools grounds,
  • not arming teachers at school,
  • increasing the number of social workers, counselors, psychologists, and nurses in our schools,
  • implementing violence prevention and threat reporting programs at school, increasing funding for school security,
  • and passing comprehensive, common sense gun safety laws that work to protect our children.

Let me repeat that last statement: “passing comprehensive, common sense gun safety laws that work to protect our children.” I agree. Wholeheartedly. 

And, that’s what I’ll work for when you send me to Raleigh. Our current representative has focused some on school safety, but in my opinion he is looking in the wrong direction. Jay Adams participated in a school-shooter active-training exercise with live ammunition in Caldwell County. And, he has sponsored legislation to allow individuals to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

We can do better. We must do better. An important area to look at is the recommendation for counselors and psychologists – because we all know that raising healthy children involves so much more than diet and exercise.

We know that having more school counselors helps qualified adults intervene in the lives of children who are facing crises. The American School Counselor Association recommends at least one counselor for every 250 students. In North Carolina, we are lucky if a district has a counselor for every 400 students. As for psychologists, according to the NC School Psychology Association, “Just 740 school psychologists serve the N.C. public school child population of about 1.6 million children….That’s a ratio of 1 psychologist for every 2,162 students.

I’ve talked about how classes are incredibly overcrowded, with one teacher now supervising more than 30 students. Those teachers will tell you that they are not able to properly address discipline problems. They may not see instances of bullying because they simply can’t be everywhere at once. 

They overlook the student who is having problems at home because they have too many students who are having problems in the classroom. 

Students act out. Young people experiencing growth and hormonal changes need to be in safe, structured environments where they learn discipline and respect. Respect for each other, for adults, and for education. This doesn’t mean a return to corporal punishment, and It definitely doesn’t mean arming teachers. It means that learning is the primary thing happening in the classroom.

We can get there by bringing more adults back into the system. More people who are qualified to deal with problems. Whether it is about safety or stopping the school-to-prison pipeline, we need to have adults trained to address problems long before a student ever considers harming others or themselves.

I am inspired by the mothers who started Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting and I am inspired by the students from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School who mobilized after the tragedy at their school. I am inspired by our own students here in Hickory who organized and said, "enough"!

Here’s what our students need: Voters who will elect lawmakers that will make policy changes to help prevent these tragedies. I know more guns are not the answer. I have listened to teachers and safety specialists who tell us the solution is more one-on-one attention to students. We need to meet them where they are, intervene early before issues become crises, and keep them focused on getting a great education.

Thanks for listening. Next, starting on Labor Day I’ll focus on jobs and economic growth. For now, follow my campaign on social media and visit my website to learn more about how we can work together to improve our public schools.

Above all, mark your calendar and vote for Kim Bost on November 6th.

Kim Bost
Standardized Testing

Greetings, District 96 voters. 

I’ve had a busy week. I met with teachers, and attended back-to-school events around Hickory, and, of course, knocked on doors to talk with voters. As for the back-to-school events, I had a great time at the Highland Rec Center Back-to-School Bash and the turnout for St. Luke’s Methodist Church event drew families from across the region.

It’s great to see so many people from the community stepping up to make sure that our kids have the tools they need to start the school year ready to learn. It's frustrating, though, that so many students must rely on – and hope for private charity – when our state legislature should instead of fully funding public education.

That, of course, is why I want to represent District 96 in Raleigh.

But on to this week’s topic: the outsized role that standardized tests play in determining everything from school funding to student placement.

Recently one teacher told me that JUST ten days into 3rd grade, students start a series of tests that are three hours of sitting still and answering hundreds of questions. At age 8, what is the purpose of this? What are we measuring? Probably not skill and comprehension. 

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from parents and teachers alike with Common Core is the testing.

While the goal is to have our children be proficient, the way we get to proficiency is addressing individual student needs, and being responsive to each student's learning style. Testing can ensure one important result: that we will be teaching to the test. This is not how we teach our children to be curious, to think critically, to solve problems, and to gain confidence in their abilities.

The pressure on students to perform on these tests is overwhelming. They hear repeatedly that their test results will determine their academic trajectory. This starts when they are barely able to hold a number 2 pencil.

Some school districts award teachers of certain grade levels and subjects bonuses based on the students’ scores. Administrators know full well that their school’s funding depends on the students’ test performance. None of this focuses on the needs and best interests of the child.

Teachers used to use a system that took into account a student’s classwork samples, teacher-generated test grades, and in-class observable growth. Children would be held back if they hadn’t learned enough to advance to the next grade. Now, many students are promoted but still have to keep taking the tests from the lower grade before they can start taking the tests from their current grade. More stress, more tests, and more pressure put on the child in an effort to maintain funding and performance.

The bottom line: standardized tests do a poor job determining what a student knows and understands, and more importantly, how much they’ve grown. While a measure of proficiency is warranted, the emphasis should be on growth. We need to trust our teachers. Teachers tell me time and again that they love teaching. They are frustrated by the bureaucracy that comes between them and their students. We need to trust teachers more. They know when their students are learning.

Thanks so much for being here. Follow me on Social media and check out my website. We are building our base of volunteers as we look toward the November election. I'd love to have you on my team! 

To make real change, please vote for me on November 6th, Kim Bost for NC House District 96.

Kim Bost
The Crisis Teachers Face - Stories from Local Teachers

Thank you for joining me for another dive into an issue facing our public schools.

Last week, I gave you some information about the dramatic cuts in Catawba County public schools to curriculum materials, like textbooks and online resources. This week, I was planning to talk about teacher pay and lack of support staff. I had gathered a lot of data and statistics on the decline in public school spending in recent years. Then, last Friday, I met with a group of amazing teachers. I listened to their stories about the lack of support they receive. They feel acutely the lack of respect of their profession that has led to the current state of public education in our state.

So, let me put the detailed statistics aside for the moment and share some of their stories. They really make the point that now is the time to pay much-needed attention to our schools, our educators, and our students.

Fact: teacher pay has dropped dramatically since the Republican-led General Assembly made the first cuts in 2013. One of the teachers showed me these (hold up the papers) pay-scale documents that plainly show that a teacher who has worked for 25 years in the school system today is making $800 per month LESS than a teacher who had 25 years in only 5 years ago.  

During this time, the General Assembly voted to end longevity pay, meaning that teachers will not receive a pay increase after they have worked more than 15 years. This punishes teachers for staying in their job until retirement. This also punishes the teachers who are likely at the top of their game with hard-earned experience on how to teach, especially those hard-to-reach students.

One adored career educator told me that she is planning to retire early, before her pension disappears, even though she loves her job and would prefer to continue teaching. She is already looking for another job and has heard about openings at the Target distribution center that pay thousands of dollars more a year than she is earning as an educator. 

The teachers are concerned about the size of their classes. With more teachers retiring early and fewer recent graduates choosing to teach here, North Carolina has a teacher shortage. Many classrooms have more than 30 students. One consequence: Putting child-sized desks in high school because classrooms don’t have the physical space for 36 high-school desks.

Or chairs lined up along the wall with some students not even having a desk!

Can you believe that?  

Even for classes with no desks, can you imagine a gym class with 52 students?!? I know a teacher who can imagine it because she lived it and she didn’t even have a teacher aide. This is NOT safe. We must do better.

Speaking of teacher’s aides, the most important change that teachers are asking for is a return to a full staff of assistants. I honestly didn’t realize how important teacher aides are until these educators started telling me what their classrooms are like without them.

Teacher aides help teachers, yes, but, more importantly, help keep students from slipping through the cracks. Every teacher I spoke with said thatassistants help decrease the number of interventions because issues could be addressed before they become problems. This is true for academics as well as safety.

Instead, without aides, teacherswork when they are sick, act as a substitute during their planning periods, and are typically too busy trying to keep up to give students the individual attention they may need to succeed.

None of these teachers I spoke with entered the profession for the money. They all love teaching and that love of teaching is the reason they continue to do more with less.  

But,full-time teachers shouldn’t need part-time jobs. A full-time teacher shouldn’t feel embarrassed to be seen by their students or friends from church when they are working that part-time job, getting off at 11 o’clock at night and still being ready for an over-sized classroom full of teenagers the next morning.  

Jay Adams and the North Carolina GOP-controlled legislature should be embarrassed! They should be embarrassed that they cut funding so much that teachers are leaving the state for South Carolina!

Legislators should spend a day in the classroom and have to look students and parents in the eye when they say that getting an education is important and teachers are vital public servants while they disrespect and undervalue their work. Instead, legislators force teachers to bear all of these burdens: low pay, high out-of-pocket expenditures, and out-of-date resources, quietly or they are labelled as whiners who care more about money than children. The teachers are taking the cuts.Our children – and their futures -- are paying the price.

We can do better. Instead of saying that public schools are failing, we need to recognize that the legislature is failing our public schools. North Carolina was an excellent place for public education, and we can return to that tradition.

We must stop the false narrative that North Carolina public schools are so broken that we should abandon them for private school vouchers. Instead, we must reinvest in public schools so we can have a strong foundation for our community to thrive.

Thanks again for watching this video. Please like and share it and help me spread the word about the important ways we can improve public education. If you want to join me in trying to make these changes, I’d love your help. Check out my website to find out how to get involved so that, together, we can make a difference.

To make real change, please vote for me, Kim Bost, for NC House 96 on November 6th.

Kim Bost
Dramatic Cuts to Public Education!

I'm spending the month of August focusing on public education, one of my three top priorities (exceptional public schools, well-paying jobs, and affordable health care for all).

This week my message relates to the dramatic shortage of adequate funding for our schools. View the video, or read the transcript below.

School starts in 19 days. Will there be enough qualified, motivated teachers? Will there be sufficient supplies? Will there be there be adequate support?

I doubt it.

Today, I want to talk to you about the biggest crisis facing our public schools: the dramatic funding shortage. In the past 10 years, the GOP-controlled legislature has cut the education budget by $840 million. When you adjust for inflation, North Carolina spends $600 LESS per student than in 2008!

In Catawba County, our three school districts average about $8,485 in per-pupil spending, which is about two-thirds the U.S. average of $12,578. This means, in many cases, teachers and Parent Teacher Organizations fill in the gaps to cover the costs of new technology like Chromebooks and digital subscription services. Yet, not every school has an active and affluent PTO. Not every child in North Carolina has equal access to a quality education – something guaranteed by the state constitution.

Let me tell you what this means in the classroom. In North Carolina, third graders are graded based on End of Grade tests on different subjects to demonstrate proficiency. In Catawba County, third grade teachers have not received new science textbooks in more than 10 years. They had a paid subscription to an online science program so, the students could have access to an advanced scientific curriculum during their classes. But, guess what, Catawba County due to funding shortages had to end that subscription! So, our students will be tested on material that they may or may not have covered. Yes, standardized tests are a challenge, and I’ll be talking about them, but the reality is, Catawba County third graders are not going to have the best preparation for these end-of-grade tests. Further, the results of these tests could affect the future funding and support our schools receive. Hickory and Newton-Conover school districts may have made different purchasing choices than the county, but make no mistake, they are all faced with the same tight budget restrictions.

In some cases, PTOs have stepped up and paid for computers, software, and other classroom supplies. Mountain View Elementary, for one, has an awesome PTO, which has raised money for the school to buy a complete classroom set of Chromebooks for all the teachers, part of the system-wide 1-to-1 goal, to have every student receive their own Chromebook. Other schools in the district aren’t so lucky; I’ve heard about teachers sharing 15 Chromebooks between four classrooms!

This is ridiculous! We can’t ask Catawba County working families to raise the money for these programs and technology. Public education is a public responsibility. It is unfair to expect teachers to plan for a school year when they don’t know what materials will be available. I am not pointing fingers at the school superintendents. This is a direct result of the GOP-controlled legislature cutting state school funding more than 55 percent in the last five years.

Please send me to Raleigh to represent the 96th district so I can work to reverse this horrible trend and return North Carolina to where it once was -- the top place in the South to educate your child in a public school. I’ll see you next week when I talk about the need for teacher pay increases, plus the importance of support staff such as social workers and librarians. 

Thanks for watching. I hope you’ll share the video, leave comments on my page, and join my campaign to take back the North Carolina House so we can have a great public education system again.

Above all, mark your calendar to vote for Kim Bost on November 6.

Kim Bost
August 1st Education Message

Happy August

This month means back to school for thousands of children in district 96, and I am going to spend the month talking about my plan to improve public education here in North Carolina.

I will talk about how cuts to per-pupil spending have forced teachers to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money, despite their stagnant salaries, on classroom supplies and how outdated technology and textbooks keep our children from being competitive. I’ll highlight the need for teachers aides, nurses, counselors, librarians, and other staff because they make sure that all students have the support they need to succeed. I’ll examine the ways the system overuses standardized tests as the only way to measure comprehension. And finally, I’ll finish the month by addressing school safety. I want to talk about common sense solutions to create an environment for our children to learn without fear: fear from bullies, fear from a school shooter.  We must act NOW to make sure this school year that begins in 27 days is free from violence. Every week this month, I’ll release a video laying out the ways we can make our schools better.  Throughout the week, I’ll share information about how my plan is a vast improvement over the current GOP disaster that my opponent voted for, and I’ll be sure to keep you informed about other things voters need to know before Nov 6th. And, of course, I’ll be pounding the pavement, walking around listening to your concerns and suggestions and, hopefully, earning your vote.

In September, I’ll celebrate Labor Day and spend the month laying out my jobs plan.  In October, I’ll take a look at healthcare.

I am proud of the endorsement I received from the local chapter of the North Carolina Association of Educators, and it is equally important to me that I receive feedback from YOU about my education plan.  I hope that you’ll join my campaign and help me get out the vote so, together, we make real change for every student in North Carolina!

Check back on my website, kimbostfornc.com, and my Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss any of this information about all the issues I care about and to get updates from the campaign, and stay tuned.  Thank you!

 

 

 

Kim Bost