2013: Pat Hynes' Goals for Fairfax Schools

Fairfax County School Board member shares visions for the new year.

As 2013 approaches, Patch has asked Fairfax County School Board members to share their goals and priorities for 2013.

Member Pat Hynes' (Hunter Mill) goals run unedited below.

As I finish my first year on the school board, I’m humbled by many debts of gratitude. Thank you to all those who helped me understand, were patient with my mistakes, who had the courage to advocate and the courage to move forward with faith. Thanks, especially, to the educators, who take good care of our children’s minds and hearts every day.

Finally, thanks to The Patch for giving me this opportunity to look forward.  My five goals for the next year on school board - in no particular order because everything is crucial and should have been done yesterday - are:

  1. Provide funding for meaningful expansion of early education programs. We know our achievement gaps start at the kindergarten door and we know that early education is far and away the smartest public investment we can make, returning up to $14 for every $1 spent.  Our school system and county governments are working together to try to close kindergarten-readiness gaps, but it’s simply not enough.  With 800-plus families on our Head Start waiting list, we are way behind.
  2. Begin replacing standardized test scores as our measure of academic achievement, and using instead reliable assessments that measure individual growth toward FCPS goals for whole-child development and twenty-first century skills. The test-score chase has opened our eyes to gaps in achievement, and we can not lose that vigilance, but there must be a better way to measure growth and report results to the community. As an elementary teacher, I administered the SOL tests for nine years and I do not have faith in them to measure reliably even the content-based standards they purport to measure, never mind the critical life and career skills we want our children to master. There are better alternatives and I am confident that FCPS staff, with board support, will make progress toward meaningful assessment reform.
  3. Empower our teachers to participate more effectively in policy debates, and put more trust in them as professionals to manage their time and make good decisions in their own classrooms. In our well-meaning way, we policy-makers continually add to teachers’ burdens and we seldom ask first. I want us to ask teachers, every year, what works and what doesn’t, what we can take off their plates and what they need to do their jobs. The teachers’ lament of “not enough time” stands in for frustration with policy-makers and administrators who aren’t listening. We need to listen more.
  4. Hire a new superintendent who will pick up where Dr. Dale leaves off, advocating for our children and leading the school system on a course of continual improvement. This hiring decision is an enormous responsibility. I am grateful for the help of the community and our excellent consultants, Hazard, Young & Attea.  Dr. Dale will leave an important legacy, as will the next superintendent. I want to feel certain it’s a legacy this community will celebrate.
  5. Challenge the “new normal” of pessimism, distrust, and tight budgets, and be an effective voice for the many in this community who expect their elected officials to invest in great public schools. I have never been a fan of the “new normal,” in which we all glumly accept sub-par public investments in schools, roads, parks and other public services. We live in a wonderful community here. We know that an excellent public school system is a fundamental part of who we are. We local elected officials owe it to this community to spend their tax dollars wisely - FCPS spends much less per pupil than comparable surrounding districts, and is undergoing a system-wide state-funded audit right now.  But we also owe it to our constituents to be firm in our advocacy for adequate school funding, at the local, state and federal levels. After a half decade of ballooning enrollment and static revenues, it’s time to turn the ship around.

Happy New Year!  Please keep in touch.  (patricia.hynes@fcps.edu)

Pat Hynes
FCPS School Board
Vice Chair and Hunter Mill District Representative

See also:

2013: Ryan McElveen's Goals for Fairfax Schools

Pat Hynes December 31, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Westbriar's overcrowding will most likely get worse as the result of closing the Louise Archer AAP center to future Westbriar students. Westbriar families have sent 20 to 30 students every year to Louise Archer's center, effectively moving the crowding issue across town. Fortunately, Westbriar is due for a major addition in the next few years, which will help. In addition, the two schools that would feed into a Westbriar center - Freedom Hill and Stenwood - will both have local AAP programs, to encourage families to stay. The AAP decisions for the 2013-14 school year will be made by the school board in January. Please check the web site at fcps.edu for meeting dates and agendas, and if you would like to sign up to speak.
Kathy December 31, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Pat, I think you've done an outstanding job your first year on board. You've listened and paid attention to a variety of comments and concerns on different issues. You've made some necessary but difficult choices. I appreciate you sharing some of your ideas which I'm sure are a tip of the iceberg. Everybody has an agenda of what's most important to them. I'm glad to have a spokesperson who's been a parent AND worked in a classroom so you "get it". Thank you for all of your hard work this year.
Virginia Fitz Shea December 31, 2012 at 05:45 PM
"The teachers’ lament of “not enough time” stands in for frustration with policy-makers and administrators who aren’t listening," Pat Hynes says. " We need to listen more." Discussions of time involve students as well as teachers. Who is speaking on behalf of students? Are administrators speaking on behalf of students? Let’s hope so. It’s not very fair for individual members of school board try to pressure administrators to listen only to the teachers. Who speaks up for the students? Parents don’t have access to the internal workings of the school system. Do we need to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests of the students? The Fairfax County School Board DOES have a duty to provide a school schedule that takes into consideration both students and teachers. In past years the school board has ignored the pleas of the School Health Advisory Committee to provide more time for physical education and recess in the elementary schools. The 12 school board members are the ones who aren’t listening to their own advisory committee. The Fairfax County School Board recently forced the 16 elementary schools that had full day Mondays to switch back to early dismissals. Granted, switching all elementary schools to full-day Mondays would be controversial. However, this option should be openly considered and debated. The school board should listen to everyone, including parents.
Audrey Hassett January 02, 2013 at 02:45 AM
Pat, I appreciate that you also see issues that need to be resolved with regard to the AAC program. In terms of the immediate changes that are being made, I feel strongly that a center program should go into the Marshall pyramid elementary school that has the most space to accommodate it. The needs of the non-AAC children at Westbriar are being overlooked by choosing Westbriar as a center based on the number of children who leave to attend the center. Please ask that Jim Kacur and others show which of these elementary schools has the most space and will have the least negative impact on the school as a whole. Westbriar's addition is not slated to take place until 2017 and it has not yet been funded. Who knows what could happen between now and then. Further, one might argue that with local level 4 services being offered at Westbriar in 2013/14, WES parents of center qualified children have yet another reason to leave their kids at Westbriar. The non-center qualified WES kids are the ones without the options and will endure the negative impact of adding a center.
Karen January 11, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Pat Hynes wrote: "The transition from the current centers to a more decentralized approach will not happen overnight, and may not be appropriate everywhere." You have raised such an excellent point -- this decentralized approach is not appropriate everywhere. As it exists today, there is not consistency from AAP Center to AAP Center in the county. That's part of the reason there is such overcrowding at Haycock (unofficially known as "the best AAP Center in FCPS") and not necessarily at other centers. Hopefully the School Board will think of students across the ENTIRE county, versus "throwing out" a nationally-recognized Advanced Academics model due to overcrowding at a relatively small number of schools.


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