Asked and Answered

What would you like me to answer to help you decide who to vote for?  Send me an email.  I'm happy to answer any questions!

How will you support teachers? 

I plan to support teachers and parents by going to schools and listening to them at their schools and their meetings.  Years ago it wasn't unusual for School Board Members to be at schools and ask teachers how things were going.  Then no-one came except to witness pre-staged classroom moments (because everything was meant to control the narrative that the administrators were feeding the Board).  Now the pendulum has swung to the silly fob business.  What's happening in our schools is no secret, but too many teachers have been squished down into silence.  That's just a cowardly way to run things and not what we'd want students to learn about expressing themselves.

How will you promote transparency and honesty? 

The best way to support transparency and honesty is by being transparent and honest.  My record on this speaks for itself.  I don't hide what your government is doing and I don't say different things to different people.  I will not vote for closed sessions that are not absolutely necessary and I will demand final action be made Public and with adequate notice.  Process is a protection against Tyranny.

How do you feel about SFA that the Board wants to implement?

I have not seen Success for All (& am immediately suspicious because of the name) but I do not have a problem with a phonics component in the teaching of decoding.  To be honest, phonemic awareness is most useful in the subject matter of Spelling (and even then the number of words that break the rules is staggering due to the polyglotinous (<-probably not a real word) nature of English).  My greatest concerns with this resource (which I will be studying if elected) are several.

First is the assumption that the problem with Reading and Writing in the MPSD is one particular resource or another.  I have been saying for many years now that the District's cookie cutter approach to education is anti-intellectual and harmful to real learning.  I have way too much to say about the Art of Teaching and the lie of Best Practices, anyone interested is welcome to call me at 652-0036.

Second is the costs we are ready to spend when we need a referendum just to keep our teachers.  I don't trust that these dollars are being wisely spent.

Finally, the Team the District sent to Kansas came back with a disconcerting report that, while that District's internal measures showed their students making gains, State assessments did not.  Should we use a program that makes us feel we are getting better even though we can show that to the State?  

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for School Board because I believe in Public Schools.  It is news to no one that our Public School District is a mess.  The poor academic performance and simply awful behavior problems Districtwide clearly show that there are systemic issues which must be corrected. 

It doesn't have to be this way, but nothing is going to get better without demanding accountability.  Ultimately, the public gets to hold the Board accountable, and the Board is supposed to hold the administrators.  I haven’t seen that happening.

I’m also concerned about comportment at meetings which gets surprisingly dysfunctional at times.  My clear history of questioning and reasoning with decorum is something that I would like to bring to our School Board.  

Most of all, I would like to see the MPSD get back to the outstanding District it was when I was hired years ago. 

What do you think the number one issue is in our district and what will you do to about it

The biggest problem in the MPSD is that so many of the issues we see arising are the result of turning a "blind eye" to developing problems.  Problems become issues and issues become crises.  As they say in Russia, "The fish rots from the head down."  We are developing a culture of crisis administration.  This simply allows other problems to fester. You've seen it snowballing. 

Meanwhile, staff that question why the District is doing something may get vague answers at best or ostracized at worst.  Since making the MPSD better is everyone's goal and everyone can play a role, it shouldn't be like this.  No-one should feel as if he/she is just whistling into the wind.  I will help by questioning assumptions, demanding better administrators, and using my voice to express the concerns of those who fear speaking out.  I will also question how thigs were allowed to escalate into emergencies requiring immediate action by the Board.

This all leads to teachers and families not wanting to be part of the MPSD.  We were once a top Schoo; District in the State.  We can be again.

What is your vision for the MPSD over the next 3 years?

I hope that we can begin to return to the MPSD as a destination district and not a starter district.  This trend began years ago and culminated with the pitiful and desperate moves of paying teachers bonuses to work to end of the school year or simply to take a job here.  I don't see how the Board does not see this as a public admission that we need to bribe people to work for/stay with us.

I will also work for a clear and concise Curriculum by Grade Level to be posted on our District website.  The MPSD should want the public to know what the goals are and not be afraid to be held accountable to them.