Below are some of my key priorities. Over the past few months, I have been addressing some of these (and other) topics in more depth on my campaign Facebook page, which you can access here: https://www.facebook.com/mcmullen4bvschools.
You may find responses to Vote JoCo's candidate questionnaire and its candidate interview below:
Our schools must be focused on providing classical instruction in reading, writing, public speaking and arithmetic, especially in the early years. These methods are tried and true.
Blue Valley's administration banned four great works of literature in 2020, including To Kill a Mockingbird, in the name of "improving racial equity." This sort of censorship and fealty to identity politics has no place in an educational institution that should embrace intellectual curiosity and diversity of thought. Focusing on individuals' immutable characteristics rather than the content of their character is a grave mistake.
The current en vogue term in public discourse is "critical race theory" or "critical gender theory". These philosophies, and their progeny, all have one common thread. They deny individualism (i.e., we exist as individuals only to the extent our various group identities intersect), and they deny the universal (i.e., there is no universal truth). I don't seek to ban these ideas. I seek to expose them for their emptiness. I seek to promote classical liberalism that embraces intellectual inquiry, diversity of thought, and rational debate.
Blue Valley Schools have recently recognized that its "balanced literacy" approach to teaching reading is inferior to traditional phonics-based instruction based on the Science of Reading. Accelerating the shift back to phonics-based reading instruction in the early years, with far more support for struggling readers at the middle and high school level, is a key priority. It is also important that Blue Valley make teacher training available to facilitate this shift.
Every Blue Valley student should have a small section writing course with no more than 15 students that is interdisciplinary in approach from 6th grade through 12th grade. Developing long-form writing skills and the ability to read complex texts sharpens the mind and provides lifelong benefits.
Smaller class sizes (i.e., less than 20 per class) and limiting the total number of students a teacher is responsible for in a semester so that the teacher has time to provide thoughtful feedback (especially in writing/speaking/grammar) are features of elite private schools. We can achieve the same for all of our kids. Blue Valley has a budget exceeding $15,000 per student per year. The money is currently available to make these changes.
The Blue Valley pay scale for our teachers is below that of other school districts in Johnson County. An immediate change here is necessary to attract and keep the best teachers.
Blue Valley Academy is a jewel, providing unbelievable support for struggling students, with a staff dedicated to its mission. Blue Valley should explore expanding the Academy to middle school students.
We should foster as much choice and freedom of movement as we can across the Blue Valley district to allow students and families to pursue educational and extracurricular programs that engage their needs and interests.