Candidate for Harrisonburg City School Board

Irvin Peckham, Candidate for Harrisonburg City School Board
B.S., M.A. University of Wisconsin
B.Ed University of Toronto
PhD University of California, San Diego

I am running for the Harrisonburg City School Board because of my life-long interest in education and my desire to contribute to the community in which I live.

I have been a teacher for forty-five years, thirteen years as a high school English teacher in Morgan Hill, California, six years as a graduate student teaching assistant, and twenty-eight as professor and writing program director at the University of Nebraska, Omaha; Louisiana State University; and Drexel University. I have been a member of the National Writing Project since 1977. I have published two books and over thirty articles about writing assessment, writing program administration, and social-class influences on writing instruction. 

I was heavily influenced by John Dewey’s Experience and Education, James Moffett’s Teaching the Universe of Discourse, and Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I was one of three founding members of the Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed Conference that has been held annually since 1995.

Along with a host of other educators with their roots in the 1966 Dartmouth Seminar, Dewey, Moffett, and Freire believed in learning that sticks rather than learning that has been memorized for a test and soon forgotten. The keys to learning that sticks are student-centered learning and positive experiences in the classroom.

My focus on assessment began in the mid-seventies when I and other Santa Clara County English teachers organized to combat the counterproductive consequences of the minimum competency tests. I have since then worked on assessment projects that assessed rather than tested, beginning with portfolio assessments in the early 80s. I have been a pioneer in projects with students and teachers collaborating on assessments of classroom performance rather than tests of individual achievement. 

When I was a high school teacher, I was also president of the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers, requiring me to collaborate with teachers, parents, the school board, and administration. I fully respect the functions of these different players in an educational system. I have described my experience and briefly outlined my philosophy of education so that voters will know something about my credentials, experience, and beliefs. I know that it is not the function of school board members to second-guess administrative decisions and teacher practices.