I'd ask why legislation such as the No Child Left Behind Act is passed without any financial support. The NCLB makes demands of educational systems, yet President Bush continues to cut educational funding, especially in the area of technology. I'd ask, "Are you concerned about America being so behind in technology?"
Holbrook Junior High School
I would tell her that until the federal government uses grassroots educators to formulate policy and direction for education, we will continue to experience mediocrity. Politicians may have the best of intentions, but they do not have the expertise to design and formulate sound education policy that will make a difference. The key is to let educators design the policy for our educational system and have politicians focus their energies on making decisions for today that ensure a sound educational system ten years into the future.
History teacher, college counselor
Madison Country Day School
"What issues are you most passionate about in education?" "How have your educational experiences shaped your vision for education today?" "What do you think education will look like in 2030?" "What is your favorite store to shop in?"
King City Unified School District
I would talk about how teachers are accountable for so much more than classroom instruction, including counseling, mentoring, and nursing. I would discuss their accountability and that of students, and point out that parent accountability is left out of the circle of education.
I would share studies of meetings for which 2,000 letters have been sent home, followed by reminder phone calls, and only 125 parents attend.
I would discuss special education teachers who work with students with no measurable IQ and feed them with tubes and change their diapers and are left out of incentive systems because their students don't participate in the state assessment.
Also, we are so worried about numbers and scores that we've lost sight of student-teacher ratios and necessary materials and technology for the classrooms.
I'm not sure the secretary would want to sit next to me for very long, but I would try to discuss the reality of teaching rather than blame the teacher, and fix the problem. Teaching is a group effort that requires student, parent, and teacher accountability.
Special Education Department Chair
Hastings High School
I'd tell her to keep funding technology and bring back the fine arts! We must prepare our students to live and work in the twenty-first century. The resources to meet this need must be available -- not on a special-use or sign-out basis but as natural, integral educational components. We need to encourage and challenge our students to become creative, innovative thinkers, designers, and consumers. The classroom cannot be restricted to a room with walls and maybe a few windows. The world of information and research needs to be the driving force. Education in the arts improves skills in academic core areas. Students need a well-rounded education.
instructional-technology resource teacher
Kansas City Missouri School District
Kansas City, Missouri
I'd tell her states need to fund programs and pay increases, and I'd note that they must be used for that purpose, and not for administrators' raises.
Technology teacher and network coordinator
Moriarty, New Mexico
"Tell me about the best teacher you ever had."
Oil City, Pennsylvania
I'd ask, "Have schools instituted a comprehensive data-security plan that includes off-site backups? If so, where are the best examples? Is there a manual for this? If not, will they, and how will you help them do that?" This seems important to me, given the situation resulting from Hurricane Katrina and tornadoes and other natural events.
Barrie Jo Price
Institute for Interactive Technology
University of Alabama
"Where are all the computers?"
Humble Independent School District
I'd say, "Why are you not fighting for full funding of the federal education laws? Why do you not make the Washington, DC, public schools a model of excellence in urban education? After all, Congress votes the budget for the schools in DC, and you have a major voice in what that budget should be! You should put public education as the top priority in the budget that goes before Congress, as the children are our future!"
Hampton, New Hampshire
I'd say, "Education reform isn't really hard. The concepts are straightforward and really quite simple. The problem lies in the politics of it all. The U.S. Department of Education holds our future in its mitts, and right now it is seriously dropping the ball."