Photo Courtesy of Irvin Peckham

Peckham (left) sings to his grandchildren.

Irvin Peckham

November 1, 2020

Q: why are you running for school board?

A: I’ve been in education for 45 years and I’m not counting the years in which I was a student. I’ve been teaching for a long time both at the high school and the university levels so education is in my blood, not been teaching, teaching writing. I’m serious. Seriously invested in education. Education is what I know about. I’m an expert at it. I’m really an expert at assessment theory, how to assess reading programs, and also in getting students to do personal writing which is what I really, really focus on. And I retired and came here so I live in this community. And just think about what’s the best way I can contribute to the community so there I am. Aside from the fact that I have three grandchildren here who are going through the public school system. And I am obviously invested in trying to help create the best public school system that we can get here.

Q: What are your plans for HHS2?

A:Oh, you mean for the second high school, I don’t have plans for that. The. I’ve just been here for two years. Although I’ve been visiting here my daughter teaches at JMU she teaches biology. So I’ve been visiting her so I’ve been here for like I guess since 2006 so I’m pretty aware of the community but I really had don’t know an awful lot about what’s going on in the creation of the second High School, other than it’s needed, it’s going to cost money as high schools do I, I’m very familiar with the creation of high schools I taught high schools for 13 years in California and I was involved in the development of our second High School in the town that I was in so I certainly know what got what’s going on, but I haven’t developed plans for it. And in fact, I don’t think it’s really the school board’s function to develop plans. It’s the administrators administration’s function to develop the plans and the school board works in concert is basically an in between. In between communicating with parents and the administration. I was president of the teachers union, our first teachers union in California, so I’m very familiar with the function of how teachers unions faculty, and parents and administration interconnect. So I don’t have the specific plans. I’ll wait until I’m elected. If i’m elected.

 Q: Do you support HHS2? 

A:Of course, of course there’s no question about it, you know, education is really one of the most important functions of the community. I personally think particularly in light of the pandemic. And what is going to be the consequence of the different ways of educating students as a consequence of the pandemic. There’s going to have been a lot more money invested in education, a lot more money invested in, and teachers and teacher training to move them into really understanding functional ways of working with hybrid education in home. Working with person to person. For the last, I guess about 10 to 12 years at Louisiana State University and later at Drexel University which is the last place I taught. I’ve been working with hybrid education. I’m very aware of it. I’m enthusiastic about it. I know how it can work well, but it really takes a lot of training and it’s going to take a lot of equipment and money invested in that. The second high school there’s some part of what’s going to have to go on. If we want to really seriously invest in education.

Q: Um, what are some important aspects of your job, or would be some important aspects

A: Yeah, well I can’t really say too much about it because as I said I’ve not been on the school board I’ve been more or less on the other side of the equation as president of the teachers union and of course as a faculty member. Let’s see, I’ve taught in three different universities and one high school. So I know it from that and I’ll be introduced to the function of the school board. This particular school board, if I’m elected [I will] basically see how it operates. The school board I know, really functions by listening to the administration, evaluating evaluating the plans that they have a lot of attention to the community and the input that they get from the community and particularly from the parents. Then on working with the school board and the parents and the community to come to an agreement as to where you go for how you go forward.

Q: What are your main interests?

A: My main interest is that it depends on what you’re talking about. I mean I’ve got quite a few main interests as far as education is concerned. I think, like we wanted to learn about like main interest for going forward if you were a school board member, what would be your main interests. My two main two main interests, well actually three, are the development of writing programs. I know we have a lot of writing teachers but I spent 45 years teaching writing so I’m going to want to contribute to the development of writing programs, particularly as we work with hybrid hybrid programs. And as I said, I’ve worked with hybrid programs and virtual learning for a long time. So I’m and I know that that’s going to be the consequence of this pandemic so I’m going to be very interested in helping as much as much as I can to develop those programs, and my other interest beyond that is really an in program assessment. I’ve written an awful lot. I’ve written quite a few articles and one book co-authored one book on how you successfully

Assess writing programs without casting. I’m very much an opponent of testing. But I’m very much, but I I believe in and developed quite a few different ways of using assessment as a, tool that works with students and teachers together to assess the program and to get to learn how to move forward and improve the project and improve the, the instruction so I’m very much involved in assessment.

Q: What is your platform?

A:I don’t have a platform, you know, and I don’t know if I can really respond to that. I’m a community member. I know about teaching and education. I know about writing assessments and I know about teaching a variety. So I’m just free to be a member of the school board to help with whatever expertise.

Q: Do you have any points where you think the school system could improve?

A: I really can’t answer that one, I haven’t been here long enough to keep mine on the school board, I will have to say I’ve been distracted by a presidential election, to say the least. I have to wait until I get there and really interact with both the administration and the other school board members and then receive input from the community. Let’s just put it this way, I know better than to go into a position with preconceptions of what it is before you get there to me.

Q: How do you think that the pandemic has affected the school system?

A: Well, I know that pretty intimately from the firsthand firsthand experience because I’ve been watching what’s going on with my grandchildren. One of them is six and the other two are eight, twins. So, watching what, my daughter and her friends are going through as they try to interact with the new reality of this system. So, yeah, but that there are so many different problems with the consequences of a pandemic. The first one is really creating workshops for both parents and teachers to work with hybrid education. I have seen what the teachers are doing. I’ve been very impressed with the way they do it but I also just from a lot of experience myself from hybrid education isn’t something that you just kind of weren’t summer, and then slam into it with pandemics so that’s the first thing. Second thing that I do know that there isn’t going to be any going backwards. With this educational system, there’s going to be new experiences, people are learning new ways of learning students are learning new ways of learning, and we’re not going to go back to the old face to face, face to face dominantly face to face model of education, we’re going to actually take what we learned as a consequence of what we’re doing here now, and use that experience to improve education I’m not fully believe that just haven’t experienced what we did. I was at Louisiana State law, teaching, when the administration, and that was mostly the administration. I really resisted to use the hybrid education and I was involved with some other people and moving forward. I saw how it worked and how it improved education as a lot of us, embraced this new model of education. So that’s the first thing the other serious consequence of this pandemic and new model of education is basically what you call educational inequality. Well extra I do know a lot about educational inequality. The other, I specialized in assessment theory, when I was an academic and also specialized in social class, social class stratification which really means social justice issues and applies to race issues as well as economic inequality. We’re now moving into educational inequality and as a consequence of the different,

I would say benefits of being in the upper income as opposed to lower income, you have better access to, to internet education, you have better access to computers in the home computers, you have better access to knowing what to do with this kind of virtual education. If you don’t belong in the middle classes or the upper middle classes if you are in our, I don’t I don’t really know the right word for it but if you don’t have the advantages of that, the higher income and higher education in your home life. You’re going to hear a family it’s going to have educational inequality as I mean, basically this is, this is not news. So that’s going to be a major, major, a major problem to stop. I think that this pandemic. Plus the new way of teaching is increasing educational inequality, and that’s going to we’re really going to have to work hard against that. And I don’t think that people really experienced it and really thought that thought that through carefully. We’re still just coping with the new reality of virtual education.

Q: how do you think students should start in person learning?

A: In part, I’ve already answered it. We’re not, if the educational administration and parents and I don’t think that we’re going to return to the old way of education, just person to person. That’s kind of like faulty thinking. We’re going to have new experiences so that’s that. It’s going to be gradually going from person to person education. I think that it’s not going to like it and also this again, it’s not going to end anytime soon we all know,  I assume, we know that we’re spiking or going up, then it’s going to be a long winter, it’s going to be a long spring so I can’t imagine, I wouldn’t be surprised if it took two more years before we actually start going back to really serious person person education. When we do, we’re going to use what we know about Virtual Education. The other thing is happening or at least I think that I see happening. Certainly most months to parents that I know is that parents are grouping together and creating support groups for their students for groups of students. Oh, that’s a very very good thing that I hope that continues. That will be a very, very useful way of enriching the educational experience. I’m all in favor of more involvement of parents and parents have gotten more involved and I don’t think they’re going to stop.


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