I live by very few rules in life: Never eat barbeque ribs with a white t-shirt on, never start a blog while going through a divorce (oops guilty), and anytime you can further the educational development of children, do it! Recently a friend of mine in the hopping hot bed of Davenport, Iowa decided he wanted his two beautiful girls to grow up in a school district where proper decisions will be made in regards to their education. A career engineer has decided to toss his hat in the local school board election, and me being his self-appointed social media manager, I’ve got to get him elected! I can’t have my wife’s nieces getting improper educational training in a few years!
So without further ado, let me turn it over to Elliott Grier, a candidate at large for the Davenport, Iowa school board. Just don’t hold it against him, Davenport voters, that he is a hopeless lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan!
Quite the intro, Skipah, I’ll remember that later this year when the Indianapolis Colts are in dead last! Thank you everyone for reading, and an especially big thank you to my wife for helping me with the campaign and being so supportive.
I came to the Quad Cities with my wife, Emily, six years ago to work at R.A. Jones. I didn’t know much about the area, but it was about halfway between where I grew up in Apple Valley, MN and where Emily grew up in Madison, IN. We have enjoyed the community and all the Quad Cities have to offer and I still work at R.A Jones as a Mechanical Engineering Manager in charge of developing a common set of engineering standards and processes.
As we were starting out though, I kept hearing the same thing as we were looking for a house, if you want good schools you should move to Bettendorf or Pleasant Valley because Davenport’s schools aren’t good.
Well I knew at the time (before we had kids) that a child’s education isn’t down to whether they’re in a “good” school or not, it’s about how involved the parents are. A child can overcome diversity if they have a champion to guide them.
I also knew that my children were going to be privileged and wouldn’t need to overcome much diversity because I knew that my wife was going to make a great mother and we would have the opportunities to read to our kids, give them attention, bring them to museums and travel to different places. That’s what my parents were able to do with me, and that’s what her parents were able to do with her.
My wife Emily and I now have two beautiful and healthy children. My oldest daughter is four and my youngest is getting ready to turn one at the end of the month. We will be putting them into the public schools, with my oldest daughter starting at Eisenhower Elementary the year after next.
I want the Davenport school district to step up for those children whose parents can’t provide those opportunities. I want to see those kids enrolled in preschool when they turn three, at the latest, so that certified instructors can begin laying the foundations needed for the rest of their life. I believe that if we can get students prepared for kindergarten, they will be able to hit the ground running and we will see the achievement gap begin to close.
That will be a long term solution though as it will only help the students that enter our system. Once they’re in we need to find out what programs and curriculum work the best to reduce the achievement gap. One of the things that I’ve been trained in is Lean Six Sigma. This is a program that was developed by Toyota that covers two aspects of manufacturing. Lean is reducing waste so that everybody is working as efficiently as possible, and Six Sigma which is a statistical term that references the quality of the process. The core of LSS is the DMAIC process, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. These are the steps we need to be taking when we are evaluating programs and curriculum. We must define what success is, measure where we are currently at, analyze the root causes of the problem, implement our improvements (which includes measuring their effectiveness) and control the process to ensure we don’t slip back into old habits.
The third subject that I feel strongly about is taking care of our teachers. The current state legislature along with our Governor has signaled that they feel that our children don’t deserve the best teachers, the best counselors, and the best support staff. When I am on the school board I will vote to extend the current master contract to avoid losing the current bargaining rights that have already been earned. I also want to continue the positive relationship that the board currently has with the bargaining units by continuing the use of labor-management committees to provide a forum for constructive conversation. While I support Dr. Tate in matching what some of the other districts are allowed to spend, I think we need to go further and lobby those in charge to increase school funding overall for all districts. The increases in spending authority have not matched the inflation or cost of living increases, and now Iowa ranks towards the bottom in how much we are investing in our children. Not a good way to attract individuals and businesses.
CLICK, CLICK, CLICK!
This is a Skipah call to arms to all of his friends in the Davenport, Iowa region to get to the polls on September 12 for the school board special election! If you are feeling generous, you can click on the banner or here. Any donations will be appreciated and I will make sure he dances at your next wedding!
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