Education Funding Opinion

Who Is President In Your Textbook?

By Stu Silberman — February 27, 2014 2 min read
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Brad Clark is a 2013-14 Hope Street Group Fellow, a Center for Teacher Quality VCO and the Lead Gifted Teacher for Woodford County Public Schools.

I teach 4th and 5th grade English/language arts and social studies at Simmons Elementary School in Woodford County. And we need resources to support education.

According to my 5th grade social studies textbooks, George W. Bush is in the first term of his presidency. I am not exaggerating when I say that the fourth grade textbook we use to teach Kentucky History in 2014 is the exact same textbook -- with a picture of Daniel Boone standing triumphantly on the front cover -- that I used when I was in 4th grade in 1991.

I am fortunate to work in a building that at one time was able to purchase short story anthologies, but that purchase three years ago amounts to a total of 10 short stories per grade level. I could cover one short story per week with the students in my class, and could realistically be finished with the anthologies by the end of October. I have enough copies of four novels that I can use with my students. I am thankful to have them, but the reality is I like only one of the novels for instructional purposes and all four novels are below the text complexity levels of my 5th graders.

However, I am in significantly better straits than the great majority of teachers across the Commonwealth.

Still, the situation is dire.

From my perspective, a more pressing issue that deeply impacts the continued achievement and growth of my students is my continued growth as an effective educator. Simply put, there is no money at the school level for professional development. I know exactly what I need to improve upon in order to meet the needs of my students. I have data that tells me where I need to grow. I have even designed and submitted a “Professional Growth Plan” that sits idle in a folder in an office in my building. Yet, I have no way of implementing my strategies for refining my craft. I do not blame my principal for this because he wants every student and teacher in his building to get better at what they do, but he lacks the necessary resources to make that happen.

It is time that we start viewing an immediate investment in education throughout this Commonwealth as a long-term commitment to economic growth. My students deserve better. Your children deserve better. All our students deserve better.

You would not ask a carpenter to build a house without materials or tools. If you did, you would not expect anything less than a shanty at the end of the work day.

You have the opportunity to build a Kentucky that is a shining example of what happens when all Kentucky citizens unite behind a singular focus on the future.

Invest in your schools.

Invest in your children.

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