My name is Graceann Pittner and I am a candidate for the Cañon City School Board. I have been married to my husband for 51 years. I have three children and five grandchildren.
Before becoming a teacher, I divided my time between raising my children and working in business, banking and real estate. I have been actively involved with children as a volunteer in recreational activities at school, church and in the community. I have an undergraduate degree in social science and masters in history and educational media / library. I have 22 years of teaching experience in several school districts and was a teacher / librarian for six years at CCMS before my retirement in 2013.
This summer, as I watched the nationwide turmoil surrounding education regarding COVID-19 issues and controversial curriculum decisions, I thought maybe I could serve our community and help us avoid some of these conflicts by presenting myself to the board of directors. My past experience working in the district has reinforced my belief that we have dedicated and caring administrators and teachers who all want to provide the best education for our children. I hope to find new ways to take advantage of this and improve our schools.
I started attending school board meetings and went out into the community to share my ideas and listen to stakeholder concerns. I was surprised to find that parents, teachers and community members had a lot more concerns than I expected. The two main areas of concern are: what is taught in our schools and the involvement of parents in the decision-making process regarding their children’s education.
So I began to review the board’s policies and procedures regarding these two concerns and to clarify my own beliefs.
I believe that school board members are elected officials who are responsible and should seek the advice of parents and the citizens who elected them. Therefore, I would like to see a better two-way communication process put in place between stakeholders and the school board, where there can be an open and honest dialogue on any issues of concern.
In addition, parents should play a greater role in the curriculum selection / approval process. To quote the Dalai Lama, “A lack of transparency leads to mistrust and a deep sense of insecurity. Unfortunately, I see this happening, so we need to find a better way to communicate and work together.
I believe the emphasis in our schools should be on teaching children how to think, rather than what to think. We need to make sure that students have mastered basic skills in reading, writing and math. We should include education in the arts and humanities (history, civic education, geography, economics) and provide offerings in technical and vocational programs.
I believe that schools / teachers should not teach or interfere with their own political, social or religious beliefs, nor seek to involve students in militant movements, in a compulsory public school setting from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Currently, the topics of critical race theory, gender identity and diversity training have become very polarizing and generated strong feelings, as people often have diametrically opposed views on each of them. ‘them.
Parents, on both sides of an issue, don’t want the beliefs they hold and teach their children to be undermined by people with opposing views. I am not arguing for or against any of these issues, I am saying that these issues should not be included in a compulsory K-12 public education framework where students do not have the freedom to withdraw from classes / programs who promote opinions that they or their parents do not agree with.
Graceann Pittner is a candidate for the Cañon City School Board.