Earlier this week, the Falls Church City Council honored dear ol’ Eduflack for his “dedicated service” on the Falls Church City School Board, noting “the City is grateful for your serving the students of the City and making the City of Falls Church Public Schools one of the highest-ranking school systems in the United States.”
I am very proud of my school board service. It was a privilege for me to serve in elected office, particularly when my charge was to ensure that every child received a world-class public education. I was fortunate to work with two great superintendents, a phenomenal group of educators, engaged parents, and terrific fellow board members.
As a result, I come away with several key lessons learned:
1. Teachers are the engines of successful schools. Teaching, particularly today, is one of the most challenging jobs out there. For schools to succeed and children to achieve, we need excellent educators in every classroom. Those educators must be empowered to do what is best for the students. And those successful educators must be paid fairly.
2. If teachers are the engines, then parents are the gasoline. In Falls Church, we benefited from intense family engagement, with parents eager to be a part of what was happening in their child’s classroom, school, or the community at large. For ultimate success, teachers and parents must work in partnership to educate the child.
3. No excuses. In our community, we expected all students to achieve. We competed every year to have the highest high school graduation rate in the state or to be rated the highest achieving district in the DC area (at least according to The Washington Post). We encouraged all students to take AP and IB courses throughout their high school careers. AND we made it a school board priority for the school district to pay the fees for those AP and IB tests. We could not let family income be a barrier to student achievement.
These are lessons that every community — urban, suburban, or rural — can all learn from. The value of great educators. The need for engaged parents. The true belief that all can succeed. Imagine how much could happen in public education if we all could adopt these simple lessons.