I entered pediatric medicine because I wanted to make a difference in improving the overall health of a vulnerable population in our society. That still holds true to this day.
I have made the decision to withdraw from the Blue Valley School Board race. I plan to focus my time and energy on my family, my medical practice, and educating patients and their families about how to limit their exposure to COVID-19.
While it is too late to remove my name from the ballot, if I am elected, I will resign the position to allow another community volunteer the opportunity to serve in that capacity. This was a decision that I reached independently, and it was not something I felt pressured to do.
Our society has been battling a serious threat to our health and prosperity for a year and a half. And that time will be extended indefinitely until we, as a society, make a concerted effort to eradicate COVID-19. It has devastated many families who have lost their loved ones, their vitality, their jobs and livelihoods.
How to live in a pandemic has also divided communities. But we need to work together to rid COVID-19 and its variants from our society. And that starts with education. It is extremely important that our kids get to attend school in person, and wearing masks can help ensure that occurs. That is why, with the arrival of new variants, my views on masks have changed.
I want to be a part of collaborative efforts to educate the public that wearing masks, getting the COVID-19 vaccine when eligible, socially distancing and practicing hand hygiene all play an important role in stopping the spread.
Christine was born in Wichita and has lived in Overland Park since 2004. She and her husband Dan have four daughters, all of whom have graduated from or are currently attending BVNW. She is a pediatrician in Overland Park. She enjoys spending time with her family and three dogs, watching Netflix, and reading as much as she possibly can.
Improve HOW we teach kids to read: Follow the "Science of Reading" and return to teaching children to read using Phonics, NOT the "Whole Language" method which has led to significant reading issues in a majority of our Blue Valley students. The debate between Phonics and Whole Language has been going on for 100 years in the American educational system. The data shows that Phonics -- teaching children the sounds letters and combinations of letters make -- and then using that knowledge to sound out words is what works best to teach kids to read. Whole Language teaches kids to guess what an unknown word is based on the context of what they are reading and what would make sense, as well as pictures on the page. It doesn't teach them to sound it out. Basically you have to memorize every word to learn to read. When you get to fourth grade and there are no longer any pictures to use as a clue -- what are you to do? Our teachers are taught the Whole Language method in our universities. They are NOT taught how to teach using Phonics.
When elected to the Blue Valley BOE, I would like to train every kindergarten through third grade teacher in the district in the Science of Reading method. After we accomplish that, I'd like to train the fourth and fifth grade teachers as well. I also want to work with the state legislature and get legislation passed requiring Kansas universities to teach these methods -- so we won't have to continue to train new graduates.
Many people believe these reading methods are only useful for the 10 to 15% of students with dyslexia, but this method of teaching reading will benefit ALL students. A majority of Blue Valley's students in elementary and high school are either below grade level for reading, or at grade level but require remedial training. We can and must do better.
I and the physicians of Johnson County Pediatrics agree, without exception, with the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC concerning wearing masks and the need for people 12 and older to get vaccinated for Covid-19. To learn more about our support for Covid-19 safety measures, including masking, please visit our website at jocopediatrics.com.
My views on masks have changed. I want kids to be able to attend school IN PERSON. If wearing a mask prevents spread of infection or a child from having to quarantine and miss 8 to 10 days of learning, then I support children wearing masks in school.
I'm running for the school board to create an atmosphere in our schools that teaches kids to LOVE learning -- for the sake of learning and to understand our world. I would argue that the word "schooling" as we know it today does not equal "learning", and that the vast majority of our children are part of the public education system that focuses far more on "schooling" rather than "learning". Writer Barry Hampe describes "schooling" as "buildings, buses, unions, administrators, teachers both good and bad, budgets, testing, dress codes, school rules, book orders, furniture, cafeterias and cafeteria workers, athletic teams, and (worst of all) politicians." He describes "learning" as "something that happens inside the mind of a person. It is not dependent on classrooms or teachers. It usually starts with curiosity and a search for information. Schooling rarely encourages this."
It is time to reform Education so it becomes more about learning. How do we do that?
- Smaller class sizes so teachers can spend time with students, get to know them, learn their strengths, weaknesses, and passions and then TEACH them based on that knowledge. Teachers can't do this in a class of 25 students, but in a class with 18 students it would be possible.
- Stop teaching to the test. If we shift our focus from doing well on a test, and instead prepare our children to do well in life, we will have much happier, interested, engaged, productive learners and ultimately adults. Bring history to life. Relate math to a real-world problem to explain why it's important to learn these sometimes arbitrary concepts. Show how the science the child is studying is important in their everyday lives. Read novels that deal with timeless, universal truths and help the kids see why wrestling with these big ideas really DOES affect them on a regular basis. If we can teach kids that learning is a privilege and can make it relatable to their lives, they will embrace it. Many will check out if they are only being taught to achieve a score on a test.
- Help kids develop their logic and reasoning skills -- teach them HOW to learn. We need to do a much better job of teaching critical reading, thinking, writing, and speaking skills. We need to produce learners who can assess any situation presented to them because they have been trained to think logically about an issue and have learned to articulate their point of view through both speaking and writing. These kids would enjoy the challenge of evaluating and fixing a problem. When they have developed logic, reasoning, free thinking and problem solving skills, they can thrive at a university, a trade school, in relationships, and in the workplace. This is the kind of education I want for my children and your children.
There are three parts of the Blue Valley district: District 1 is the Northeast area, District 2 is the Northwest area, and District 3 is the Southern area. This year there is one opening in each of the three parts of the District. Because there are just two candidates running in each of the three areas, there are no August primaries for any of us.
For the general election, every voter in the Blue Valley district can vote for one candidate from EACH of the three parts of the District on Tuesday, November 2nd. Voters do NOT need to have children in the District to vote for School Board. They need only to reside in the geographic boundaries of the District.
I would like to encourage you to vote for a "slate" of candidates on November 2nd. Kaety Bowers (District 1), Jim Mcmullen (District 3), and I (District 2) are in agreement on the big issues facing our district right now. Getting one or two of us onto the Board will be a good step toward turning the District around. Getting all three of us in will be a great step -- and is our goal.
Please check out my colleagues, and vote for all three of us on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021. The three of us will put kids first. The three of us stand for change.
Kaety Bowers https://www.kaetyforbluevalley.com/
Jim McMullen https://jimmcmullen4bvschools.com/
Why Johnny Can't Read -- and what you can do about it by Rudolf Flesch
Dumbing Us Down -- the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Crimes of the Educators -- How Utopians are Using Government Schools to Destroy America's Children by Samual Blumenfeld and Alex Newman
The Coddling of the American Mind -- How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt