Margaret Smith: On the Issues
Here are some issues facing Volusia County Public Schools superintendent:
"If a teacher isn't able to have successful students, they shouldn't be maintained in the position. Regardless of tenure. There is a place for merit pay or performance pay, but it has to be developed working with teachers collaboratively. We have to work together." (Smith, and others, urged Gov. Charlie Crist to veto SB 6, which would have tied teacher pay to student achievement and made it easier to fire teachers; Crist did so.)
"It's not something I have a definite plan for, though I haven't closed the door. Part of Facebook and Twitter is responding. How much can you really do in communication, with time, and use the tools correctly? That's what concerns me."
Standards and Testing
"Is there a perfect set of common standards, perfect assessments out there? No. There's a lot of work yet to be done."
"We have shown improvement. Do we still have a gap? Yes. But we are doing better. We have parents and community members helping us to identify and meet the challenges."
"It's a part of everything we do in schools—in life! It's certainly instructional. Our biggest challenge is how do we take all these tools that students have and put them into meaningful use in the classroom."
Extended School Day/Year
"Absolutely. Time on task. And I'm talking about quality teaching; we absolutely have a need for more learning."
Health & Wellness
"The one thing we're struggling with a bit to be honest with you is the soda. Syrupy, carbonated, sugary. But we have an initiative underway and are actually hoping Michelle Obama might come to visit to see how well we're doing."
Safety & Security
"We have a very strong anti-bullying program training for teachers and students. Very strong."
"The ‘Be There’ campaign is all about parents connecting with, listening to, and encouraging their children. In the car, instead of the child hooked up to their technology or looking out the window, the parent engages the child in conversation. Getting ready for dinner? It's time to talk. This is a national campaign now. Volusia was the first to get involved in this.
"It's extremely challenging. With class size, a lot of districts in Florida are modifying the way they're organized to deliver instruction and still focus on quality education. It's a tremendous challenge."