Kim Langley: Students should be taught how to think, not what to think
Summit School District board candidate
I’m running as a member of the 4 For the Kids slate, which is four women running with the same overarching priorities. We are three concerned moms of Summit School District students and one grandmother. We have vastly different life experiences and approaches to problem-solving, but our goals for the kids are the same.
I joined the U.S. Air Force in 1990 to escape small-town North Dakota. My graduating class had 12 students, and our parents were the teachers. Enlisting was my ticket out and provided me the opportunity to receive an incredible education, travel the world and to have memorable experiences. I now have friends all over the world.
In the Air Force, my primary job was as an acquisition officer, where I negotiated and managed multimillion-dollar defense contracts. I led a missile warning team whose job it was to launch, check out, then operate satellites that detect tactical (short-range) and strategic (nuclear) missile launches. My last assignment was as a professor of aerospace studies, where I taught cadets at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 2013, I retired from the Air Force after 20 years of service as an officer. I earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of San Diego and a Master of Business Administration from Webster University.
I realize none of my answers are going to perfectly match what you want to hear, and that’s OK. I can assure you, however, that every decision I make as a board member will be through the lens of: How do we stay focused on the best education possible for all our kids; how do we safely keep them in school five days per week and without masks as soon as possible; how do we retain our fantastic teachers, staff, administrators and bus drivers; how do we transparently represent what parents expect; and how do we effectively use taxpayer dollars?
I’m trying to stay positive with my message, but we all know Summit School District has some serious issues. There have been three superintendents in three years, test scores have dropped for five years, we do not meet Colorado standards, and we are actually a below-average district academically. We can’t continue down this path. To be blunt, our current school board is somewhat dysfunctional. Three members have recently resigned in frustration, they paid the superintendent $100,000 to not sue along with countless legal fees, and there appears to be very little concern about education. This is what made me feel like I needed to get involved.
Priority No. 1: Academic achievement
It’s personal to me. Without the opportunity to excel at school, my life would have been drastically different, and I suspect not nearly as fulfilling. My goal is to improve the academic performance of all students based on established standards to give them the shot at the American dream that I have lived. Math and reading literacy has continued to drop for five consecutive years, and COVID-19 learning loss has been dramatic.
My observation is that the school district needs to get back to basics. I would encourage a rigorous learning environment in which students are taught how to think, not what to think. All students need to be challenged to be their best. We must lift the bottom, but we cannot forget about the high achievers and those with special needs.
Occupation: Retired U.S. Air Force officer
Years in Summit County: 2 1/2
Family: Married with two kids in Summit School District
Civic involvement: 20-year military career, Parent Teacher Association vice president at child’s elementary school and classroom volunteer
Priority No. 2: Fiscal responsibility
I’ve attended almost every school board meeting since May, and I have been flabbergasted at the wasteful expenditures on controversial lawsuits, payoffs, useless or ignored studies, headhunters, poorly defined administrative positions — on and on. We’re talking about literally hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) that could have been used to directly help students or retain staff.
I have experience evaluating multimillion-dollar budgets and asking tough questions about what the benefit is of those expenditures. It is in this capacity where I believe I will be very useful. I will scrub every line of the existing budget and will require data and justification for any new program or position. Our administration costs have gone up dramatically as compared to teacher costs over the past several years. This will also be a focus area for me.
Priority No. 3: Teacher retention and support
If we want academic improvement, we must make teachers (and other staff) a priority in the budget.
My fourth and fifth priorities are transparency and mental health.
Kim Langley is a candidate for a four-year seat on the Summit School District Board of Education. Learn more at 4ForTheKids.com/kim-s-bio.
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