My name is Matthew Fitzpatrick, and I am running for Orange County School Board Chair. I am currently an Assistant Director for Orange Technical College. I have spent 25 years in education as both a teacher and a school/district administrator. This position I am running for represents a 50% pay cut, but I am willing to take such a financial hit to bring informed leadership to our school board during this critical time for education. Please let me know your thoughts on the following issues—your opinion matters to me. School Board members are both leaders and representatives of the voters of Orange County. Thank you for your time.
School Safety – School safety should be the highest priority of schools, even higher than student achievement. A parent cares far more about knowing their child is safe than they do about how much they improved their score on a high-stakes test.
Hire more School Resource Officers?
Arm School Employees?
Teacher Shortages…college students are not enrolling in Education programs as before (down 40%), early retirements are rising, and only 50% of new teachers survive beyond 5 years. Should we be concerned that classroom are being staffed by substitute teachers?
Hiring Highly Qualified Teachers.
Teacher Pay is too low. If we want to attract the very best teaching candidates, we must win the war of talent by paying an attractive salary.
Teachers should stop complaining about pay…they knew what they were signing up for when they went into education.
Superintendent’s Pay – At $310,000 a year, that is almost as much as Mayor Jacobs’ ($144,000) and Mayor Dyer’s ($186,000) put together. That’s more than Governor Scott’s ($130,000) and his Lieutenant Governor's ($120,000) salary put together. This is public education,…shouldn’t the Superintendent also know what he or she signed up for right along with classroom teachers? Can such a salary be justified?
The Superintendent deserves to be paid a very high salary in order to attract the very best CEO of schools possible.
Get rid of the Marzano Teacher Evaluation system – or at least modify it and clearly define what is required to attain an “innovating” rating during an observation. The standard should not be ridiculous in nature, causing a great teacher to have to jump through extra hoops just for a score. Reaching “all” students with highly effective instruction should be enough. Jumping through unnecessary hoops for the sake of checking off a box is ridiculous and only adds to a great teacher's already difficult job.
Increase School Choice to give parents options to appropriately educate their children.
Decrease school choice options that drain funds from traditional public schools.
Increasing Career Technical Education (CTE) options at high schools. Bring back industrial trades and “shop” classes to all high schools.
Offer great CTE programs at OCPS Orange Technical College campuses.
Improve Parent Participation
Teacher Autonomy…set teachers free to express their passion, creativity, and content area expertise.
High-stakes testing, teaching to the test, and over-testing.
End the School Grade system that only hurts the at-risk schools it was designed to help.
Special Education support to make sure all students and teachers succeed.
Increase AP and Dual Enrollment options.
Eliminate forcing students into AP classes according to their PSAT scores and AP Potential rather than student interest and work ethic. Allow counselors to help students make the best course selections that fit their career plans rather than directing students into courses to improve school data and College and Career Acceleration Points.
Preserve the important place of recess and play for the development of elementary school students.
School Discipline...Schools must be safe from the inside out. The standard of student behavior must be high in order to ensure a school environment conducive to learning for all students.
Reduce the school-to-prison pipeline.
Investigate the practice of lowering the number of out-of-school suspensions and arrests without actually changing the misbehavior of students. Lowering the consequences of offenses in order to improve discipline data. "Bad students are starting to figure out that nothing is happening to them."
Increasing mentorship and tutoring at high-risk schools
Improving the Graduation Rate
Increasing digital curriculum and digital devices.
Decreasing student screen time
Teaching students to think rather than simple memorization.
Increase Speech and Debate options to foster civil debate on controversial topics, and to help all students with critical-thinking skills, research skills, listening skills, and speaking skills.
Foster a love for reading.
Build strong partnerships between schools and the business community.
Elect politicians and school board members who understand education. How can someone possibly supervise education if they don’t understand education? Politicians with limited understanding tend to make decisions based on School District reports rather than a real understanding of the important issues affecting schools. Educational leadership on a school board must be more than a stepping-stone to another political position.
Improving School Culture (how people behave) and School Climate (how people feel). The most effective school principals understand how important school culture is. When students enjoy school, feel safe, and feel inspired by their teachers and administrators, students learn more.
Fiscal Responsibility at the district level.
Equity of access at all schools to ensure all students receive a high quality education.
Bring back salary schedules for teachers.
Bring back tenure for effective, experienced teachers.
Increase the number of Professional School Counselors, School Psychologists, and Mental Health Counselors to ensure that all students have access to guidance and help.
Increase local control of education so that the big decisions in education are made by the School Boards, Superintendents, School Districts, Principals, and Classroom Teachers, with a major emphasis on empowering those closest to the students.
Focus on winning District Awards such as the Broad Prize and the Governor’s Sterling Award.
Increase Early Intervention programs to help at-risk students get a good start on their education.
Increase Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to foster teacher development and high quality instruction across every campus through teacher collaboration.
Eliminate mandated PLCs that tend toward micromanagement, scripted lesson plans, loss of valuable individual teacher planning time, and “teaching to the common assessment”.
Give the subject area Instructional Coaches at each school two classes with the lowest level students in order to create demonstration classrooms that highlight effective instruction so that other teachers can observe them in action. Showing teachers is better than telling teachers. I’ve seen great teachers ask for the lowest students…it is inspiring to behold. The instructional coach can float into the classrooms of other teachers during their 4-5 off periods to offer feedback and assist where needed.
Increase the minimum required years of teaching for administrators from 3 years to 5 years. (If it is even 3 years anymore?) Require the five years to be in the classroom and not in a Dean's position. Instructional leadership is one of the greatest skills that school leaders must develop, and it should be honed in a classroom rather than a Marzano book or training.
I appreciate your participation in this survey. Please reply back with the numbers that are most important to you, and please add a comment if appropriate. You can also private message me if you would like to keep your responses private.
If you like what you are reading about my campaign, you can help me by either volunteering to help get the word out or by making a donation online on my website.
This survey was paid for and approved by Matthew J. Fitzpatrick, candidate for Orange County School Board Chair, non-partisan.