Giving parents a greater voice is the proven path to better education.
To move from good schools to better schools, we need to implement these principles:
- The school board should represent the parents’ voice in school policy
- Accountability is the key to continuous improvement
- Parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children- schools must support them
- Academic excellence in reading, writing, and arithmetic
- Local control of our schools
As I have spoken with parents and voters, a number of people have expressed concerns about where the incumbent is leading the school board. Here are my comments on these topics.
Academic Excellence–Preparing Our Children to Compete Globally
Test scores show that other nations and other states are doing a better job of preparing students to compete for jobs.
I have been in classrooms in China, India, and the Philippines. I know the global competition for jobs our kids are going to have. I understand what it will take to be competitive with people from around the world for jobs in the new global economy. This is the perspective we need to have on the board.
The board should listen much more to parents.
The incumbent has made over 647 votes and the number of her votes against administration proposals is zero. None. This adds up to a virtual rubber stamp for the administration.
I believe the school board is meant to provide checks-and-balances on the administration. If we didn’t want to have the voice of parents involved in making policy decisions, then we would just elect the superintendent and do away with the board. We elect a school board because we know the voices of parents need to be heard to improve education.
The school board needs to lead the charge to quality education, not just stand by as a cheerleading squad.
Common Core means giving up control over what is taught in school to an out-of-state committee.
We need high standards, and they need to be Utah standards. We need to keep control over what is taught to our children. Our ASD school board should be a strong voice in defense of these principles.
Federal Intrusion Into Our Schools
The Federal government should have no place in our schools. We need leadership from our school board on this important issue.
No matter how tempting the trough, we must resist the temptation to take on new federal programs with all of the strings they have attached. We must actively look for ways to live within our means.
One recent example is Race To The Top–a new federal education program from President Obama with additional federal rules and regulations. In explaining why Texas would not be applying for Race to the Top funding, Governor Rick Perry stated, “we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington.”
As a board member, I would be a leader in maintaining our schools as free from federal intrusion as possible.
When the board votes to approve an RDA it means higher taxes. An RDA gives tax immunity to a certain company or project, which means that all other businesses and property owners must make up the difference.
I appreciate that representatives of ASD voted against the $300 million UDA for Vineyard, which I agree with.
As a board member I would not approve RDAs greater than the amount needed to reclaim blighted real estate.
Reducing Expansion Costs
We need buildings to accommodate our growth in students, but we don’t need each building to be an architectural monument.
I have spoken with an architect who has done work for ASD who tells me we could save 10% of our costs by changing our policy. An example of a good policy is one followed by the LDS church. Those chapels are durable, beautiful, and serviceable, but they are not stylish. They reuse the same plans over and over, at a considerable savings.
If the board changed their policy to follow the same pattern, we could employ an additional 80 teachers to help reduce class sizes. We need to spend more money IN the classroom, not ON the classroom.
The concepts that Investigations is trying to teach are good, but the implementation in our district could have been much much better with proper leadership. The fuzzy concepts of Investigations must be balanced with specific skills and a good understanding of multiplication and division. The school board must inject common sense into the discussion, for example, by rejecting the notion that our kids can just depend on a calculator all the time.
I would be a board member who is not concerned about justifying the decision to adopt this program, so I can be part of an impartial review.
I would have remembered the role of parents in implementing any new program. We parents are the ones helping the kids with their homework every night, so we need to understand what is going on.
Parents’ Local Influence
By law, each school should have a functioning School Community Council (SCC) to provide parents a strong voice in school policy and we could do a lot better with this program.
I have a specific plan to increase the influence of parents through the SCC. You can read my article on this topic under “Recent Articles” below.
We must do better that just implement the bare minimum SCC program required by state law. We need to have district policies that give the SCC a stronger voice.
Like anyone, teachers should not fear losing their jobs on a whim.
As an executive, I know that every organization, including a school, has a certain number of poor performers. We owe it to our children to be sure those poor performing teachers can be identified and re-mediated or dismissed.
The Alpine Education Association continues to have ties to the National Education Association. In the recent teacher strike in Chicago, the NEA supported the power of unions to assign teachers to schools instead of hiring decisions made by the principal. This is very dangerous.
The NEA supports socialistic reform of education, and is totally out of step with Utah values.
The teacher contract has strict limits on the principal’s ability to observe and evaluate teachers. The school board should ensure our ability to identify the quality of instruction in every classroom.
Size of the District
We will soon reach the 80,000 student mark. Already ASD is the number 50th largest school district in the nation.
The advantage of size is economies of scale, and ASD uses that advantage very well. It is one of the most cost efficient districts in the nation.
The disadvantage is one-size-fits-all policies, and the solution to that problem is local control. The School Community Council, comprised of elected parents and teachers, needs to have more say in what goes on in their own school.
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