I am running for the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) school board to end mediocrity and inequity in our schools and free teachers from administrivia. Here are my thoughts on the approaches I would adopt when trying to fix these serious issues. I will really appreciate if you would connect with me with your thoughts and suggestions on how we can improve our public schools.

Attract/Retain Best Teachers

Compensating the teachers above the other local jurisdictions is important but that alone won’t help. System’s refusal to pay differentially contributes to middle school gym teacher having same pay as high school physics teacher. We need to better-compensate the best we have than hire more, enforce performance standards for pay increases, stop overemphasizing reading/math test scores at the expense of real instruction, stop using teachers as tools for social engineering and allow them to be expert instructors in their chosen disciplines.

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Mandate US History Education from K to 12

Citizens having sound knowledge of the history of the country and having right perspectives based on that knowledge plays a critical role in shaping the destiny of a nation. Some of it happens with the passing of traditions and sharing of stories of involvement of ancestors in influencing the nation’s history. However, most of it happens in the classrooms of the country. Such learning from classrooms becomes extremely important as more and more of the population of a jurisdiction becomes international and immigrant in nature, just as it is happening in Fairfax county. This is a huge challenge that FCPS need to address now.

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Safeguard and Expand Advanced Academic/GT Programs

Advanced Academic Programs (AAP) / Gifted & Talented (GT) programs exist for a reason. They support gifted children’s needs by supporting high quality gifted and advanced education in FCPS. Politicians and vested interest trying to dilute such programs by branding those as not equitable and diverse enough is fundamentally wrong. Such approach will erode the much-acclaimed merit reputation of the FCPS system. As a school member, I will ensure that the FCPS mission to have challenging programs for its gifted students, without any regard to their race, gender or income, remains in place and their current funding levels are preserved.

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Bridge Minority Achievement Gap

There is no equity for students from disadvantaged groups in the county who consistently score lower on tests. This gap begins in 4th grade because of the flawed FCPS reading and arithmetic curricula. I believe the way to deal with the apparently insurmountable ‘Minority Student Achievement Gap’ in Fairfax county is adjusting methods of learning, and not conducting social experiments.

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Evaluate and Redesign STEM Curriculum and Teaching Methods

The ACT college admissions test results show that only 55% of the FCPS seniors tested were prepared for college-level STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) courses. Only 21% passed Algebra I in the SOL End-of-Course test. That’s the average and numbers don’t lie. Lower achieving regions of the county have much worse numbers. Continuing the assertion that Fairfax School system is excellent is beyond any rational thought.

SBA SBA

STEM related jobs are the jobs of the new economy and the number of STEM jobs going unfilled are exploding due to lack of qualified STEM graduates. We are increasingly dependent on foreign talent to fulfill this void. Outsourcing of American jobs to Asian countries is hurting the American economy in the longer term. Asian American parents as well as children have done exceedingly well in the STEM fields while going to the same schools with everyone else. We have to learn from the success of Asian communities in STEM and make appropriate adjustments to our STEM curriculum and teaching methods.

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