"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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Meeting with Alpine Education Association

Today I met with the Alpine Education Association (AEA) as they decide which candidates they will be endorsing for the upcoming election.

Prior to being contacted by the AEA, I didn't know much about them. I looked on their website, but didn't get a whole lot of information. I talked to a few neighbors, teachers and my state legislator. All were very positive about the AEA. I did find out that they are in charge of negotiating the teachers' contracts with the district.

The interview started out with my describing my background and my interest in education. They asked what I had heard about the AEA, and I told them what I outlined above. Their Vice-President wanted to assure me that their association wasn't there to keep bad teachers around. She said their goal is to help teachers who need remediation and to make sure that they get their due process. They hear stories all the time about teachers' associations being there to enable bad teachers to keep their jobs. They wanted to make sure that I understood that this wasn't their position at all. I certainly appreciated that they wanted to make this position clear. I assume that it would make good teachers' jobs more difficult to have "bad apples" in the bunch. I also appreciate that you want to make sure you're being fair with people.

We discussed Investigations Math, and my "lack of enthusiasm" for it. However, this isn't the reason I'm running, per se, as Investigations isn't supposed to be used in ASD anymore. One of the teachers wondered if it wouldn't have been better if they had introduced Investigations, starting in Kindergarten and First Grade, and following it through, rather than switching wholesale as was done. I agreed that it would have been better, but that I felt kids needed more of a basic foundation in arithmetic that Investigations doesn't provide. As I've said, math is about knowing the relationships between numbers and seeing the patterns. If you have a firm grasp of that, you free your mind up for higher computations and associations with those numbers.

Another question was about my desire for greater parental involvement. I told them about the district using technology like emails and more "front page" website posts to "push" information out to parents. I didn't go into too much more detail, but you're welcome to read the post about that here.

I was also asked about the latest talk of increasing the high school requirement to four years of math and science. I am opposed to this. I think we want kids to have the basics: basic knowledge of arithmetic, and whenever possible, basic algebra. With algebra, you can go to most other disciplines successfully. Other than that, we don't need to force people to spend time on math, if they aren't interested in it. It doesn't benefit anyone. I was required to take only 2 years of math in high school. However, because I was interested in it, and I thought it would benefit me in college, I did take four years of math. This is what we want. Those who are interested, spend the additional time studying it. And those that aren't, get to study something else that would be of benefit to them.

Finally, I was asked if I was a "jump into things with both feet" kind of person, or a "sit and watch" kind of person. I think that I'm more of a "jump in" person, but I am very aware that you don't want to take what's working and start all over from scratch. I want to make sure that any changes that I advocate are actually beneficial and not just throwing the baby out with the bath water, as it were.

I really appreciated their taking the time to meet with me. It was a good opportunity for me to spend a bit of time with people that are on the "front lines" of educating our children. I appreciate their dedication and their commitment to that end.

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