About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”

I am praying for our nation.  We have a circus going on being sensationalized by the media.  While this is happening, in fourth grade, I teach my students about government.  They are exploring a basic understanding of how democracy works. They are learning about the three branches of government.  And we will explore rights and responsibilities of citizens.  These truths are in our constitution.  A document written by our forefathers 229 years ago to protect our rights and provide us with our freedoms.  A document stating “We the people, of the United States of America…”  A document that is only as alive and well as it’s citizens.  What is your responsibility in supporting this document?

During our civics unit, we learn about the rights and responsibilities of citizens.  This starts at a young age with taking care of your possessions and helping your community.  It is modeled by parents and community members who volunteer, run for city office and vote.  Taking this to a national level,  we still have those same responsibilities.  Somewhere among the grandstanding, name-calling and ranting going on in the news, there are issues.”Teachers are in the trenches living this educational system every day. It is our civic responsibility to educate ourselves and use our voice to vote in this upcoming election

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I do not endorse any candidate.  I honestly have not made a decision about the presidential candidate.  My research and evaluation is not over.  Monday night we may or may not learn more.  The media has a responsibility to cover news in an unbiased fashion; but we all know that responsibility is no longer the reality.  So we must go beyond the sensationalism and “politics” of the election.  We much each learn about the candidates that are running on our own.  Their job is to represent you.  Your job it to decide who best represents you and vote.

My bias is education. Click To Tweet

Bias is having a prejudice in favor of, or against, a  person compared with another.  Any site or resource you use to educate yourself on the Presidential issues will contain some bias.  As I teach my students, it is important to determine the source when researching.  My bias is education.  I have been a teacher for 20 years in a small mid-western town. I know how my students learn, what they need, and what our state government has done to take money from our schools and support big business.  I look through the lens of one who is watching the family unit change and the impact this has on our children.  I see how technology has changed and therefore impacted our children.  I understand the push for testing and what this has done in classrooms.  I am looking for someone who is open to the opinions of the experts, especially in education.  Are you sharing your expertise with those who need to understand education?

Common Core Standards:  Our students are more transient than  ever.  We have students moving from school to school, state to state during the school year.  With state control and local control, school districts can set their standards as they see best.  With a national curriculum (common core), there is a framework for schools to connect. This does two things for education.  It establishes a curriculum to allow for fewer holes in knowledge for students.  It also allows teachers across the nation to collaborate.  Using the same standards at the same grade level allows for shared knowledge, resources, and a global community among learners.  Common core sets standards by the national government with a percentage of control to local and state government.  Removing common core allows standards to be set by the state or local level.  This piece has to do with the curriculum and objectives schools are teaching.  It is one piece of control in an education system.

Charter Schools:  Students and families have more diversified needs than ever before.  We have students in elementary grades suffering from mental illnesses that were once only identified in adults.  We have families living in poverty.  They need basic support before their children can begin to learn.  Traditionally public schools have filled the need for public education.  Private schools are often available at a cost to parents.  Charter schools are set up to be run by teachers while still being offered for free with support from the government.   Public schools are funded by the government and accept all students.  Charter Schools are funded by the government and have an application process.  Allowing charter schools sets up a need for more funding in education to support more schools.  It provides options to parents.  This piece has to do with the atmosphere in which children are educated.

Teacher Tenure: Educators are required to be licensed.  They must continue their education with professional development to retain that license to teach. Teacher tenure is a policy that restricts the ability to fire teachers without cause and instead requires a “just cause” rationale for firing. Education is a very personal field.  Parents, rightfully, want what is best for their child.  Teachers, to further learning, must some times make decisions that are best for a student, but are unpopular with parents.  Tenure is a system set up to allow educators to make best practice decisions in their classrooms.  This piece has to do with being an educator and using best practice, it does not provide for academic freedom.

Education is only one piece of the puzzle.  There are other issues that you should look at and consider as you decide where you vote will be cast.  It is not always a simple piece, either.  One candidate may support your education views while another support your views on a second issue.  Your candidate may support your views on education and oppose your views on a second issue.  Democracy is a system of government by the people, for the people typically through elected representatives.  Throughout the next month, my fourth graders will be learning about this system.  You have a constitutional right to vote and a civic responsibility to educate yourself and cast that vote.  May the best win.

You have a constitutional right to vote and a civic responsibility to educate yourself and cast… Click To Tweet

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