Brent T. Davis – Candidate for USD 259 School Board – At Large

Candidates

Biographical Information: 

  • Teacher, Educator
  • Owner of Complete Education Tutoring and Test Prep

Personal Information:  Married to Tinka Davis with 2 children, 16 and 19

Campaign website: Candidate has not provided information

What specific issue facing Wichita Public Schools do you think deserves your immediate attention and how to you plan to address it?

According to Kansas State Department of Education statistics 10% more USD 259 students are below grade level than three years ago while per student funding has increased 8%: we did better with less money. I will work to set up proper incentives to help teachers be allowed to be more effective at lower cost.  

How do you think the district can improve teacher retention?

We need to offer excellent, competitive entry pay with a lot of real success support, and we need to put the joy back in and take the drudgery out of teaching. I’m for empowering principals. Great principals build and keep great teachers. We should have two official routes into the USD 259 system: HR and principals, who are like head coaches, both should work to find people who they think can do the job. “Churning” is necessary to find great teachers. Principals need to be able to quickly let teachers go who are not producing results and be able to hire teachers with knowledge in their subject matter who the principals think will be good teachers, whether or not they have earned an education credential. We need to hire people as teachers who love and are excellent at their subject matter and whom children respond to well. If teachers without credentials produce excellent results then they should be helped to earn their certification over time (if that is necessary) and their own teaching experience should replace “student teaching.” Also, all salaries–whether principals’, teachers’ or administrators’–need to have a results component, particularly principals. Scores go up, you get a raise and opportunity for more responsibility. Scores stay the same, you get cost of living increase (this has to happen). Scores go down you lose responsibility, for instance, get moved to assistant principal, get assigned to help a more effective teacher for some class periods and get paid for the reduced work a commensurate salary. Just because a salary goes up it shouldn’t necessarily stay there, although there should be some reward for longevity. The old “step system” has to play a much smaller role in salaries because education and years of experience have not proven to be good indicators of teacher quality. Money has to be related to helping students do better at every level.

What do you think is the largest obstacle to student success/graduation and how do you plan to address it?

Lack of prepared learning time with excellent teachers and materials is the greatest obstacle to student success. Graduation is not student success: Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg did not graduate from Harvard. Student success is children learning the information they need to know to be productive citizens and successful at what they want to do in life, given a realistic and accurate assessment of their talents and abilities. They need to learn about their great American heritage and their own place in it, how to have successful relationships and to raise healthy, productive and respectful children. They need to learn about what it is possible to do in the world and what it takes to do these things. They need to be able to read well and think well and write well and reason well with civility and respect for others and their thoughts and opinions, controlling, while understanding and being propelled by, their emotions. They need to learn how to work hard and do hard things. Most need to graduate, but others might need to get out into the work world and start building the skills they need to be successful in a non-academic intensive career. If graduation includes these things it can be part of success, but “graduation” several grades behind grade level is not success, and that is what we have now for far too many students in USD 259: over 45% of all high school students are below grade level in math and reading and about 80% of black students are below grade level in math. This is a tragedy.

Teachers are the key to imparting information and inspiring students to do their homework: time with excellent teachers. I will work to set up the right incentives and policies to enable principals to put the maximum number of students with excellent teachers for the maximum time and to ensure that students have time and support to finish their homework and study to be prepared to learn.

 

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