"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Debate: June 2, 2010

On Wednesday, we had a debate at the Cedar Hills Golf Course. The incumbent, Chrissy Hanneman, Zonda Perry, and myself were there. It was nice to meet people and hear their thoughts.

I will put the formal debate questions here, along with my summary answers. There were other questions provided to the moderator during the debate that I won't be able to include at this time.

1. Property Taxes: need to go up, down or stay the same? Why?
--Stay the same. Times are hard. It isn't right to make people who are struggling pay more. In a situation like this, everyone needs to do more with less.

2. What is one thing ASD is doing well? What is one thing they need to improve the most?
--The teachers and families in ASD are very dedicated to education. Improve communication with and involvement from the parents.

3. Charter Schools: good or bad? Why?
--Good. I support parents having options.

4. To what extent should homeschoolers participate in public schools, including extracuricular activities?
--As much as they want. Their parents pay taxes too. They need to meet the requirements the same as everyone else.

5. What experiences prepared you to serve on ASD Board?
--I have a math degree, own my own business, have been involved in evaluating curricula for both a Charter School and for Home Schooling. I am able to find efficiencies, and, most importantly, listen to and represent the voice of the families.

6. Why are you running? What do you stand for?
--I want to take our district from good to better. I think we can do this with greater involvement from parents and more local control in the schools. I also want to focus on academics.

7. Investigations Math: is it still being taught in ASD? Is it good or bad?
--It's not supposed to be taught in ASD anymore, but there are many reports that it is still sneaking into the classroom. I, frankly, hate it. I'm a proponent of Singapore Math (also like Saxon). But, I would like to see the local schools decide, as long as there is support for the curriculum by the parents of those in that school.

8. Should ASD be spending more or less per student? Can ASD do more with less, or do they need more?
--ASD can absolutely do more with less. We all can and do. If the families who support the district have to do more with less, then the district does too.

9. Should teacher tenure be eliminated? Is tenure good or bad?
--Bad teachers have to go. Tenure, too often, stands in the way of schools being able to get rid of teachers who don't try anymore. Of course, training, support and a fair overview of a teacher is required. But, if they cannot meet the expectations of the principal, they should be given their retirement and released.

10. Should we try to measure who are the best teachers and pay them more? How?
--Yes. There should be a tangible reward for being excellent. Peer reviews could be used to determine some form of merit pay, taking in to account the difficulty of the class(es) involved, etc.

11. Is ASD doing a good job at teaching math? If so, why are so many ASD students not prepared for college work?
--No. This is a critical area in which ASD is failing. I think that Investigations wasn't a good decision. The NCTM--National Council of Teachers of Mathematics--recently revised their standards stating something to the effect that kids need to have quick recall of basic math facts. This is a dramatic departure from where they were a few years ago. This is a rejection of investigations and "investigations light" (balanced math).

12. Do Community Councils have enough automony?
--I don't think so. If you put them in charge of the Trust Funds, then they should get input from the schools, but it should be up to the SCC's to make the final decision. Otherwise, why have a Community Council make that decision?

13. Should charter schools be overseen by ASD?

14. Does ASD need a bond for new schools? Why?
--No. We can't afford it, and I'm opposed to debt, both personally, and publicly.

15. Did you vote for or against the school choice (voucher) initiative in 2007? Why?
--I voted for it. The funds were coming from the General Fund, not the Education Fund, and it provided greater choice for parents. I like parental choice.

16. What do you think of the mission statement that includes "enculturating democracy"?
--I think it's a poor motto for a school. Not only is it factually incorrect, it misplaces the proper focus of the district. I'd like to see one that focuses on academics. I'm not comfortable with the word "enculturating" as it implies to me indoctrination. Also, this country was established to be a 'republic', not a 'democracy'. We don't teach 2+2=5 and say it's close enough. Why not state 'republic'?

Thanks to Joel Wright for organizing this one and only debate. I wish there had been more debates. It is important for these concepts to be debated in public and for individuals to have input to those who seek to represent them.

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