The Virginia Beach School Board meets regularly throughout the year to consider ways to improve and nurture area public schools and enhance the learning experiences of the community’s students. The 11-member board gained two new members this election cycle, and they intend to bring their own passions, expertise and commitment to the school board.
Trenace Riggs was elected to represent the Centerville community. A native of Virginia Beach, she taught for 37 years in the city’s public school system and has been an advocate of education for much of her life. She served as president of the Virginia Beach Education Association for four years, where she often collaborated with the school board and city council.
Riggs on the issues:
Testing: “We are testing our children too much. It turns kids off to education and I don’t feel it’s an accurate form of evaluation. When you are just taught to spit out information you don’t learn to think critically or collaborate, which are skills that employers look for in the real world.”
Class size: “We need to have smaller classes. It’s been proven that smaller classes allow for more information to be shared with students.”
Homework: “Kids are coming to school with all sorts of things that influence them at home. Teachers can’t change that. I’ve discussed putting less of an importance on homework, and giving students the opportunity to retake failed tests. These are things that are already practiced in some classrooms, but I’d like to see consistency across the board.”
Teaching methods: I want to see the power put back into the hands of the professional teacher. They know what the needs are of their students. Education has always been trendy, and that’s why we constantly see so many changes. We need to ask ourselves – should we stick with what we know works, or should we continue searching for something better?
Victoria Manning was elected to serve as an at-large member of the school board. She grew up in Shenandoah Valley and attended Old Dominion University, where she became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. She is passionate about expanding educational opportunities, particularly for special needs students.
Manning on the issues:
Administration transparency: “All parents should be informed about issues and new policies being considered for implementation in our schools. Parents should also have a key voice regarding what happens in our schools and should be encouraged to be involved, especially parents who have students with special needs.”
Grading policies: “I’d like to retract the current grading policy that gives authority to the superintendent to create grading guidelines. I want to be sure students are taught important life skills of accountability and responsibility. New guidelines being implemented put the focus only on material mastery. These policies minimize teaching the important skills of meeting deadlines, accountability and responsibility.”
Budget: “We need to have better priorities in spending that put students first. We need to fund core services, such as bus drivers who are in shortage due to lack of competitive wages and overcrowding in buses. The safety in the transportation of our students must be a priority.”
Morale: Many teachers have told me they cannot speak out against issues of which they disagree for fear of ramification. That needs to change by giving a voice to all teachers on important issues.”