Superintendent Message (August 27, 2014)

 Kuna School District Updateksd1
Inspiring each student to become a lifelong learner and a contributing, responsible citizen

August 27, 2014

Welcome Back!
One of the great things about working in education is that we always have new beginnings—each year is an opportunity to reset and restart. Last year I stood before you and shared my summer vacation story. My message then was that at the beginning of any journey, you have a vision of what the journey should be and that during your travels; the vision often doesn't match the reality. My message to you was to enjoy the journey and to be sure to take care of yourself and your colleagues because our journeys always have bumpy roads. Little did I know how bumpy the roads we traveled would be last school year!

But it is once again another new start! This summer I had the opportunity to work on one of the Governor's Task Force subcommittees. During this work, a parent who was employed the State Board of Education shared why she was interested in helping on the committee. Her son had long suffered with disgraphia—a writing disorder that makes learning a challenge. She admitted that her son often gave up on himself therefore becoming a problem to his teachers. She said he hated school because every day he felt stupid. She ended up resorting to bribery to get him to attend school. He was struggling in one particular class and after a fairly heated exchange among the teacher, the mom and the son, the teacher told the mom and her son that there wasn't anything the teacher could do to help the son, that he wasn't going to make anything out of himself, so he should drop out and explore other options. She said her son withdrew from school the next day and became a high school dropout.

All of us on the committee sat shocked at the total lack of professionalism that this parent and student experienced. The worst thing any of us could ever hear is that "there's nothing we can do to help you so just give up." After the meeting was over, the mom came up to me and said, "the district that failed my son was yours." You can imagine my response to this revelation. I was haunted by her story most of the summer. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this parent's experience was a symptom of a bigger, more systematic illness facing our nation. Over the last ten years, the education profession has taken a severe public relations hit:

• Educators are often blamed for all of the ills in society. Just the other day, I read an article in which the author blamed the downturn in the economy to the failing of our nation's education system.
• Just last year, one of the shows on television was called Bad Teacher which reinforced all of the negative stereotypes about the profession.
• In July, I heard from all the Deans of the Idaho Colleges of Education that they are seeing a decrease in the numbers of students going into the education profession.


These symptoms are the direct result of infected education policies that have taken the professional out of our profession.
So what are some of these infected policies? I will use one of the high impact instructional strategies we use is called "Example, Non-Example" to help me illustrate.
Non-Example of a Professional Approach to Education
Short-term investment with quick profit for investors
Market is for testing products and charters
Teaching is technically simple and can be learned in six weeks over the summer
Spreadsheets will give you all the answers
Technology can replace educators


When we are reduced to this list, it is no wonder why a person when confronted by a difficult student, might respond by telling a mom and her son that there is no hope. Today, I am challenging you to take back your professionalism. In the Kuna School District, we try to practice the research-based example of a professional educator:

Example of a Professional Approach to Education
Long-term investment that pays dividends over time
Market is for meeting the learning needs of all children
Teaching is hard and requires high levels of education, strong practice, wise judgment and continuous improvement
Requires expertise of educators working collaboratively to solve the challenge of ensuring that every child receives high quality instruction every day in every classroom
Educators work with technology to enhance learning


I want you to stand tall when people ask you what you do for a living so that you can proudly say "I am an educator." Being an educator means being a professional. Whether you are driving a bus, serving children healthy meals, cleaning the learning environment, teaching or leading children, you are a professional working to better our community by investing your talents in children. Our community---our nation needs you in order to continue to ensure that the country we love is strong and successful. In order to continue to improve our profession, we must focus on what works to help children learn and grow. Our district is working hard to build our system on the belief that all of you are professionals. This is why we have invested in people over things and in practices that improve our professionalism through supports such as professional development, instructional coaches, mentors, and collaboration time.

In this time of new beginnings, I challenge you to be the example that you want the Kuna School District to be!

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