Tuesday, June 19, 2007

School Board candidate questionnaire...

Once again, Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle (www.cppsofseattle.org) is putting together a questionnaire for School Board candidates. Here is the link to the one we did last election: www.cppsofseattle.org/candidates.htm.

The goal of the questionnaire is to educate voters, so we're looking for questions that address important issues and differentiate the candidates. We'd love to get your input.

Got a question you think all candidates should answer? Let us know by leaving a comment here, or if you prefer, you can send ideas to kerry@cppsofseattle.org. Please respond by next week (6/26) since we need time to assemble it all in advance of the primary. Thanks!

9 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

- Do you know how to read a budget?
What background, if any, do you have in budgeting?

-What is your relationship, past or present, to this district? Meaning, do you (or did you) have students in this district? Did you serve on any PTA Boards? How many Board meetings/Board committee meetings have you attended in the last 2 years?

- How much time do you think you'll need to devote to being a member of the School Board?

That's to start.

Charlie Mas said...

Questions for school board candidates:

1) What Board action can assure that high academic expectations are set and maintained for all students and what Board action can assure that students get the support they need to meet those expectations?

2) Many Board members - and community members - complain about the lack of dialog between members of the community and the District leadership. How will you, as a Board member, facilitate that dialog?

3) Is John Stanford International School an alternative school? Is The New School an alternative school? Is TOPS an alternative school?

4) There's a lot of talk about accountability. How - exactly - can a Board member hold any member of the staff accountable for their performance? Please be specific.

5) How do we know that the students now at Marshall will be better served elsewhere if we don't know where that "elsewhere" is?

6) The Board is a policymaking body, but policies don't matter if people don't follow them. What would you do if the Superintendent regularly ignored District Policies?

7) Do we need a District Policy to make the program placement process more rational, transparent and data driven?

8) How can the Board encourage the Superintendent to replicate successful programs? Would that be an appropriate action for the Board to take?

9) The District has made very little progress on the School-Families Partnership Plan and does not appear interested in the Community Engagement elements of the Strategic Framework. What can you do from the Board to spur action on these initiatives?

Priya said...

Charlie --- FYI, The New School is not an alternative school, never has been, never will be. The District will occasionally add The New School to the "alternative" list because it does not have an assigned reference area. Unfortunately for TNS, schools with no reference area have traditionally been alternative schools. The lack of distinction is frustrating for those of us who are parents (including me), teachers, and administrators at the school.

Charlie Mas said...

Priya,

Well, that's just the ambiguity, isn't it? The New School says they are not an alternative school, and a strong argument can be made in support of that position given that the curriculum is not sufficiently different from a traditional one to justify the designation.

But the New School doesn't have a reference area, so it isn't a reference area school either.

Consequently the school is neither fish nor fowl. The school's status is ambiguous.

On the flip side of the coin, the John Stanford school's curriculum is sufficiently different from the traditional to consider it alternative but it has a reference area. Status: ambiguous.

I'm comfortable with ambiguity, but not everyone is. It can gum up a system and lead to questions about transparency and equity.

The folks at the New School can continue to say that the school is not an alternative school, but let's not pretend that the ambiguity isn't there.

Why doesn't The New School have a reference area? How would that detract from the work done there?

Christopher said...

Yes, according to district documents, New School was indeed an alternative school at one time. I have some of the documents and this has been an on-going confusion between different departments. If you say, the district does this "occasionally" then you'd have to ask yourself why.

Priya said...

The New School. A wonderful school with all kinds of questions.

But while I have the opportunity, can I brag for a moment that 98% of the 1st graders passed the DRA!

I understand that there are District documents that say that The New School is alternative. And also know that every time one of those documents surface, the principal finds the author and asks them to change it.

Charlie, I absolutely agree that there is ambiguity. And we who are connected to the school wish that ambiguity would go away more than anyone else. It's of particular concern in our community because the label "alternative" (as so interestingly discussed throughout the day) can mean a re-entry program for struggling students. For example, South Lake High School is one such school, and it shared the building with The New School. Yes, confusing it is!

I can't speak to why the District has not given The New School a reference area, but I can guess two reasons.

1. It is adjacent to Dunlap Elementary. How does one carve that up?

2. The New School enrolls all of its kindergarten students at the pre-k level. I'm not sure if there is any other school that does that. Graham Hill only does it for their Montessori program, but they have the regular track where kids can enroll for kindergarten. TT Minor still has available seats at the kindergarten level.

I know there is continued discussion with the District about whether it will or will not receive a reference area.

The bottom line is that The New School is a neighborhood school. Every year, the geographic range of the students is smaller and smaller.

And, given the conversations today, I have to add one thing. Parents at TOPS are desperately fighting to keep an alternative school designation, while we at The New School are desperately trying NOT to be classified as one.

(Andrew and Kerry, sorry for distracting away from the CPPS board questionnaire! I'll be a good CPPS member and post my own questions in a moment!)

Priya said...

I love everyone's questions as well as the CPPS questions from the last election.

I would add a question about student assignment, especially considering that this group will inherit the decisions made by the current board.

I would also like to second Charlie's question about community engagement. How do they plan to communicate with parents and community members? No need to go on, Charlie said it well.

Anonymous said...

Question for board candidates.

How will you be able to hear and address the concerns of small activist groups like, but not allow a few very loud voices to overide the voices of the majority. In the past these groups show up and stomp, yelled loud,cry racism, and involve the press just enough to get their way. It is not equitable.It is also not equitable that these groups take up the majority of spots for board testimony, leaving the public who do not know how to play the game (call the board office at 8A to reserve all of the spots) without a voice?

How will you as a board member work toward equitability in this area? A couple of the current board members were not able to represent the majority that they represented equitable, and felt that they had to work soley for these left wing activist groups.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a similar question for Board candidates:

How will you be able to hear and address the concerns of philanthropists - individually or in groups, but not allow a few very loud voices to overide the voices of the majority?

In the past these groups get meetings with the Board and District staff and can get guest columns in the press so they can get their way. It is not equitable.

How will you as a board member work toward equitability in this area? Current and past board members were not able to represent the majority that voted for them, and seem to work soley for these philanthropic groups.