“A good teacher is someone who can teach, someone who loves what they teach.” – Rep. Carol Spackman Moss
As a student, it was really a great opportunity for me to meet and have a short discussion with Representative (Rep) Carol Spackman Moss. Rep. Moss is a Democratic member of the Utah State House, representing the state’s 37th. She had high school in Idaho, California and Nevada. Later, she had her master and PhD degree in English and also a master degree in Educational from University of Utah.
|Rep. Moss and me |
Rep. Moss who now have three children, said that she had a really fascinating and rewarding educations in her life. This rewarding experience of being educated really encouraged her to be part of that process, the teaching-learning process. This feeling later made her an English teacher at Olympus High School in Holladay, Utah for 33 years.
However, in 1999 many people told her, as she realized it herself, that Utah need a representative that care about the education. Long story short, she decided to run and get elected in 2000. As a person who never thought of becoming a politician before, she understands that in politic you need to approach the voters, whether you like it or not. When you try to get a vote, you need to talk to people one on one, not only by sending stuff. She also understands that in politic, you need to compromise. She believed that in politic, you will never get everything you want.
She said that education and politic are somewhat different. In your class everyone listen to you, but in politic everyone talk. They most of the time will not agree with you. In politic, people sometimes use any kind of way to get what they want, even by bullying other politician. Having this situation, she then said to me that she needs to be strong, never feel intimidated, positive and respectful to people. At that moment, she knew that her experienced in dealing with many kind of students from her class room helped her very much in her political career.
Obviously, she believed that government especially local government plays a major role in every aspect of people’s life. As a politician, she believed that politician -as a part of the government in the general sense- need to contribute his or her best to the betterment of people. Politician need to listen to their constituent, understand their problems and ultimately help the community to solve the problems. As she defined a good politician as “a positive, a genuine and a sincere one” I believed it is her understanding to do her best in order become one of those few “good” politicians.
During our short discussion, she told me that her priority as a state legislator is the improvement of the education in Utah. As a former high school teacher she understands that Utah still has many educational problems. One of the biggest education problems in Utah is the class size. She said that the class size is really a big problem in Utah since student would not get the most from their class experience if there are too many students in the class.
She also emphasized the important of teachers’ quality in every class in Utah. For her, teaching is a religious calling. As a facilitator and an educator, a good teacher is a teacher who really knows how to engage student. She furthermore said “there is no excuse of ‘not knowing’ in the subject that you teach.”
As someone who loves education and really cares about the educational problems in Utah, she has been sponsored many bills. One of the most prominent was the bill regarding the pilot project that will evaluate and assist underperforming veteran teachers. The other that seems to have massive public attention was the Teacher-Mentor Bill. She sponsored these bills because she believed that there are other reasons, besides low income, that made teachers in Utah tend to quit their job after the first five years of their career. One of them is the lack of guidance and also the feeling of isolation in their job. That is way she believed that Utah need a program that will give enough support and guidance for these new teachers.
However, there were also some bills the she opposed. One of the bills that she strongly opposed is the bill that would assign letter grades to schools based of the performance of their student. She believed that that bill did not really addresses the needs and did not helps bring up the achievement.
When I asked her the question, “where do you see yourself in the next five or ten years from now?”, I could see a smile in her face. She answered the question by saying that “I don’t think that I will run for senator or something at the national level”. She then continued by saying that “when I run for this office my opponent spent tons of money, but people know me. I win because I listen to the people, you really need to understand them, listen to them. So I don’t want to disappoint them”
Now she just wants to do her best in her job. She wants to make people understand the importance of education, she wants to make people understand the importance of the quality of teachers and ultimately she wants to make sure that the young generations in Utah will have fascinating and rewarding experiences in the process of being educated as she did. If she could achieve these goals, I believed that she will not only be remembered as a good teacher, but also as a good politician.
“A good politician is someone who is positive, sincere and genuine” – Rep. Carol Spackman Moss