"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Union Questions Begin Here! Question 1

Hi all! I'm attending a forum this afternoon hosted by district union staff at Creekside Place: Staff only, I'm sorry to say. My best efforts to get somebody to host a forum for the general public have failed. A few weeks ago a union rep contacted all board candidates to ask if we would be willing to answer a series of questions. The reason given was that the union leadership decided to invoke its PAC option and select two candidates to endorse, which apparently comes with a small campaign contribution. This has been happening with more frequency in the last few years, I've heard. These are the questions they posed. The forum tonight will likely focus on elaboration of the answers given to fully understand the candidates' postitions on these topics.

Q1: Why are you running for school board?

Before I answer that question, I’d like to address the purpose of a school board. I recently read a comprehensive survey regarding the history, current state and research based evidence for future direction of school boards in the United States.(1) That document notes that an initial reason for creating an elected school board was to establish local governance of public education, governance which reflects the values of the community.  There is evidence to support that the current school board has done a good job taking the community pulse for critical issues such as creating the district Vision Statement. They continue to seek community input on topics ranging from open enrollment to creating a new employee manual for the district. I would like to help the board continue that important aspect of governance.

I’m running for school board because, while I believe that the Evansville Community School District has many good attributes, I envision its excellence. Every child deserves a public school education that prepares them to successfully pursue their dreams, whether those dreams are to attend Harvard Medical School, to become the most outstanding carpenter in the tri-state area or to enlist in a branch of the Armed Services.  When I worked at Wisconsin Energies in Milwaukee many years ago, a vendor who was trying to sell me a million dollar piece of equipment asked me if I was from Missouri “because you don’t believe anything I tell you unless I show you.” That effectively summarizes my approach to everything: Trust but verify.  School board members that provide an independent analysis of educational initiatives are valuable assets to their districts. I believe my data analysis skills were beneficial when I was on the board previously and will continue to be an asset to the board if I am elected again this spring.

The coming years of increased expectations in student achievement through Wisconsin’s new Agenda 2017 combined with widespread budgetary challenges will require board members who are capable of evaluating enormous quantities of data and drawing conclusions from that data. I come before the voters ready to take on that challenge. I am well informed as to the inner workings of often convoluted public school finance. I stay abreast of what’s happening with the state budget and either figure out how it affects the district revenue stream or ask questions until I am satisfied that I do understand it. I make it a priority to stay current with educational trends and seek information regarding the efficacy of those trends. One common problem that often surprises new school board members is the relatively long learning curve on the way to becoming an effective board member. Some board members have noted that they were finally becoming comfortable in their role just as their seat was up for re-election.  I have been continuously monitoring ECSD board business since 2006, first as a citizen activist, then as a board member and finally as a free-lance journalist.  The seven years I have spent in these endeavors exceeds some current board members’ tenures. This will enable me to hit the ground running while preserving an essential eagle’s eye view of where ECSD has been and, more importantly, where it is going and how it can achieve its vision of excellence in all aspects of education.

(1) http://www.csos.jhu.edu/crespar/techReports/Report56.pdf

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