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Positions

Based on my experience and my impressions to date where do I stand on local educational issues?

BudgetWe need to assure we are using our funds to best advantage before asking for more.

Common CoreA good idea that is poorly planned and implemented

High Stakes Testing – Worthless. Not predictive of any performance and a waste of money that could and should be going to the classroom.

Local Control of Schools – The people should make decisions and not outside interests

Vocational SchoolsNeeds more focus. Not everyone is suited to nor interested in going to a four (4) year college. For those who have a love for automotive, construction, culinary and other skills needed in everyday life helping them prepare increases their earnings while giving them a sense of success and satisfaction.

Charter Schools – Parents should have choice. Taxes paid should include choice.

Communication with the publicBoard members need to find better ways to reach out to parents not only to keep them informed but to seek guidance for key challenges

Please take a few moments and share your views with me.

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4 Comments

  1. Peggy Sue says:

    Question for you… WHY (in your opinion) have the powers that be decided WASL, Common Core, etc., are ideal methods of testing? My kids complain all the time about the math tests, and say they should assess one’s mathmatical aptitude – NOT one’s ability in dissecting quarter page long word problems. There is room for “puzzle problems,” I suppose, in life, but not on a test supposedly determining whether or not you recall what you were taught in Alg 1.

    Question two: In your opinion, why have states veered away from simple testing of germaine information? Regarding end of course exams, it would seem to be critical to know whether or not a student (as above) has retained the information taught in the classroom, rather than throwing in a twister regarding their ability to solve verbal puzzles.

    Finally, just a thought… I have partially homeschooled my kids for many years, though they have been a part of an ALE for the last eight. They have had eye exams every single year for a very long time. In April this year, my youngest daughter (15 years old) was finally diagnosed with a very slight strabismus (crossed eye), causing her endless grief with reading, as well as the ability to recall information (if the eyes don’t track correctly, the brain cannot make sense of the incoming information. Each eye sees something a little different, and it makes no logical sense to the brain).

    Each year, the majority of schools, if not all of them, do vision screenings of certain grades. How difficult would it be to implement a relatively simplistic (not in depth) vision tracking screening for students who display the warning signs of reading disfunction – the inability to easily decode words, recall information, and frequent misreading of words (missing prefixes, suffixes, and/or roots)? I realize this testing is something ophlamologists SHOULD do, but obvioulsy they don’t, and there are a lot of kids who struggle to read.

    Is it the educational system’s responsibility to problem solve this, or the medical communitiy’s? The educational system sees the problem – kid can’t read, but they don’t know why. The parent knows the kid can’t read, but 99% of them never think to ask a doc to check tracking. I’m a reasonably intelligent person, and stumbled across vision tracking testing via a colleague at a swimming meet. This is just too random a happenstance to hang a child’s future on. My daughter felt stupid. IQ testing proves that not only is she not, she is highly intelligent. Obviously something needs to be done better… how many other kids have fallen through the cracks? The basic test is so simple – a red lens with a line in it over one eye, and a light source in front of the child. Is the light to the right of the line, left of the line, or on the line? Boom. Problem identified.

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    • Peggy Sue: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and pose your questions. I’ll do my best to share my thoughts back.

      Question for you… WHY (in your opinion) have the powers that be decided WASL, Common Core, etc., are ideal methods of testing?
      Response: I think that part of it come from the federal side and programs like NCLB (and their predecessors and now the Every Child Achieves Act). They believe they know better what should be done and then they tie returning some of the money they take from us locally to “encourage” us to follow their lead (which is illegal). I also think there are people at the state and federal levels that believe education needs to be identical everywhere and want everyone to be treated equally and produce the same results (which is simply impossible and even undesirable). Tests let them feel like they are tracking every child, can compare and dissect. The reality is that none…none of the tests are predictive of performance and success. The ONLY consistent predictor is good grades. In the end I think it’s a matter of control and these tests give them the power they either crave or believe is necessary to meet their vision of what the world of education should look like.

      Question two: In your opinion, why have states veered away from simple testing of germaine information?
      Response: I think that the people promoting these changes believe that the old ways are outdated and not relevant to today and tomorrows world. They also seem to be bent on producing “college ready” students rather than focusing on helping each child pursue their own interests and develop their skills and dreams. If we can’t deliver a child that has all the basics down pat and is well rounded (which means music, drama, athletics, art and other diverse aspects of life) then they start out handicapped. Some people seem to think that things need to change for the sake of change and/or get bored with education and think everything needs to change to keep them happy (whether it is best for the student or not).

      Eye screenings (or other health issues that impact learning) – When I was young we did the eye testing. It would take an effort to establish a process to have properly certified and trained people on hand at defined times. Teachers could certainly make a note and refer students who appear to have challenges. This might well include mental issues as well. I think your idea/question/concern is worth looking into more closely.

      Thanks for sharing and I hope you won’t be a stranger.

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  2. Tom Schell says:

    After being retired from the district for a year, there are some comments I would like to make.
    First of all you have “social promotion,” and no attendance standards in middle schools. I have had students who have missed over 100 or more days and are still passed on. I have had students failing every stubject and are still passed on. What kind of a joke is this? As I finished my last year it was policy that you not give any faliling grades unless you first filled out several pages of paperwork and got permission from the administration. An important part of a teachers job is to assess what the student knows and give an honest accounting of whether he or she shows progress in their learning. Grades is one way of showing this or perhaps an end of course exam. Your grading was monitered and if you gave too many low grades you were called in for a conference asking why so many low grades. If there are no enforced standards, how can you require students to be accountable for not meeting the standards. How can a student know what is expected when he or she has missed over 100 days? As a History teacher I had students and parents say that History isn’t tested so why worry about passing it. I have had students tell me my sister didn’t pass and she went on so why should I worry about it. If you complained you were targeted as a trouble maker. I could go on but I think I have made my point.

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    • First, thank you for taking the time to share your experience. I did some digging with the BGSD in the last couple of months and have gathered some information on exactly this subject. No responsibility, no consequences and hiding the issue of failure (not even using the word!). I have two letters from the district I can share if you want to read them and get back to me. If you are local perhaps we could talk on the phone or meet? If you are not local I would still appreciate your comments on the investigative work I’ve done. We must…must put an end to this.

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