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  • Lori Kirkpatrick

Supporting Teachers and Building Our Future

I want teachers to be able to teach children to think critically, to captivate their love of learning, and to nurture the creativity and curiosity within each and every child. I know that our teachers are dedicated professionals whose training and gifts motivate them to do just that, to evaluate a child’s learning style and abilities and make moment to moment, day to day, even year to year adjustments to help ensure that their students are captivated and learning. My experience has shown that teachers build relationships with children and with each other, knowing that collaboration, not competition, is the central component in successful education.

In nearly every way, the current evaluation system known as the Teacher Excellence Initiative (TEI) stifles these crucial processes in education by placing too much emphasis on standardization and uniformity. Since its implementation, DISD teacher turnover has topped 20% per year for the past three years. But contrary to what some may believe, teachers aren’t running from accountability, they’re exiting a stifling and broken system. Every single teacher who has reached out to me or whom I’ve met takes very seriously student learning and sees it as an indication of how well he or she is teaching.

As the District 2 Trustee, I will propose that we adjust our evaluation system so that teachers are evaluated based on student growth measures. We will remove utilizing flawed one-day STAAR achievement results and stop giving our kindergarten, first and second graders standardized tests for the sole purpose of collecting data for TEI. The student surveys should be reduced to 5% from the current 15% of the teacher evaluation score, or eliminated altogether. The compensation component will be adjusted according to industry best-practice standards for performance retention, thus continuing a merit-based system. These crucial changes will allow for collaboration and focus on student growth throughout the year, not a single day. We will of course continue the ACE program.

Why must we focus on teachers to build a stronger school district? Teachers are the foundation of our children's education. Our teachers work day in and day out to serve our children. Often they can help our children grow in ways that even we as parents can't. But ultimately, when our teachers are struggling, our children suffer.

Additionally, we know that teacher turnover causes harm for students and schools. However, this is even more so in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students like DISD where 87% of the students are in poverty. Kids struggling to overcome poverty have the most to lose from an unstable, inexperienced teaching staff.

I hope you will join me in standing up for our children and teachers. Let’s implement a system allowing teachers to teach children how to think critically instead of how to pass a standardized test. When we maintain a stable professional workforce the children of Dallas will succeed and truly be able to lead our community into the future.

Runoff Early Voting is May 30 - June 6. Election Day is June 10.


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