The election of school board members is an important one in our community. Columbia Parents for Public Schools has long advocated that parents carefully consider six key criteria in evaluating school board candidates. These are whether the candidate is a strong advocate for public education, a community builder and leader, one who seeks excellence in education, one who brings needed skills and experience to the board, one who values diversity, and someone who has the ability to work effectively and collaboratively with other board members, the community, and the administration.
This year in lieu of another candidate forum, we scheduled a parent forum on teen mental health and asked candidates to send us a written summary of how each of the above criteria apply to them and how they envisioned their role on the board. We also asked, “What do you consider to be key challenges facing CPS and how will you contribute to meeting that challenge?” and “What do you think CPS does particularly well, and how do we sustain that?” We will post the responses as received.
We had a lively forum yesterday. Here is a list of questions drafted by those present. You can read summaries of the candidates’ answers in both the Tribune and the Missourian. We have also sent this list to the candidates and will post any answers that we receive.
Why are you running (or rerunning) for the Board of Education?
What are you looking to accomplish in your position?
Do you see yourself as primarily representing the community or the system?
How do you view and value diversity in schools in relation to community?
Name three things you think our schools do well and one thing you hope to improve.
How are school officials dealing with bullying in schools?
How can you start conversations with children about bullying?
My child feels that students in class don’t like him because he’s different. What does the school do to recognize this exclusion?
What do you think about the decision to charge children with felonies for fighting at school?
How will the school board have a hand in this?
How will the district report data on bullying so that the public can monitor effects of the new law?
How does the school district manage construction costs?
How do you plan to continue to support small schools in the district?
Why don’t all schools offer after school activity buses? There are many after school activities offered but many parents aren’t able to pick up kids 4 – 4:30 pm due to work.
What is your position on vouchers and why?
What is the district doing and what more can the district do to help students become informed, engaged citizens?
Once again we had an engaged group of citizens at our forum earlier today. At our forum, parents and other community members submit questions that the candidates draw from a grab bag and answer. We thank both Christine King and Darin Pries for attending and for their thoughtful and candid responses. We also appreciated that they stayed past the forum time to talk further with those present. Listed below are the questions the audience submitted arranged by category. A third candidate, Derek Wade, was out of town and did not attend. All of the candidates have been invited to send additional remarks. And readers are also invited to comment below.
Here are the questions:
Supporting Our Teachers
The most important “product” of CPS is the student. The most vital “tool” in the system is the teacher. Please comment on your view about +negotiating with teachers and that effect on morale, +the reality that a teacher new to the system, yet with experience may be paid more than a teacher with the same experience, but who has given the same number of years to CPS, +the board’s role in leading the community to properly and adequately fund public education.
How can you support our teachers even if there are not enough $$? Why not protect planning time?
If the public asked for a dedicated tax increase to compensate our teachers would you support it? Is that possible?
“Common Core” has at least 3 components: (i) standards; (ii) testing/assessment, and (iii) application. Issues with assessment and application are being confused with the standards and are undermining them. What can you do to support the standards and still address the issues?
What is your opinion on Common Core for CPS?
Bright Futures is great and so are mentoring programs like those at Douglass in helping match kids to resources. What recommendations do you have for community to work with schools to close the equity gaps?
What strategy is in place to recruit a more diverse pool of teachers?
Redistricting: How can we make the percentage of subgroups more similar between schools?
Some of the overcrowding issues being experienced by schools are due to public perception of certain schools being “better” than others based on their physical location. How can the board assist in educating the public about the quality education to all of our students?
Describe what EQUITY means to you and how BOARD policy impacts equity for students in CPS.
What are your plans to alleviate overcrowding in the classroom?
Do you believe that intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in public schools? Why or why not?
PARENTS and PARENT ENGAGEMENT have traditionally gotten lip service from CPS administration. What does REAL, meaningful parent engagement look like to you and how does the board drive it?
What is CPS doing to support its local control in Jeff City?
What is CPS doing to implement the nutrition standards? Are there any changes coming?
Although our forum wasn’t taped (you had to be there!) you can read more about the candidates in the Columbia Tribune. You can also watch this tape on the CMNEA forum.
We will co-host our annual candidate forum with the CMSTA and CCPTA this Saturday, March 14, at 8:30 AM at the ARC! This will be our usual family friendly format and we are trying to make it even more family-friendly by scheduling on a Saturday morning. We hope to see you there! In addition to showcasing the candidates we will have message boards and opportunities for parent to parent conversation. Come and ask your questions! Not sure what to look for in a candidate? Here are characteristics that we look for:
1. Ability to work effectively with others. Ask – does this candidate have effective listening and speaking skills? Has this candidate demonstrated an ability to build consensus and achieve collaborative outcomes? Will this candidate listen to the concerns and thoughts of parents, students, and faculty with an open-mind?
2. Values diversity. Ask -does this candidate engage and show rapport with different segments of the public? Have they demonstrated an understanding of the need to involve the entire community in the decisions of how we educate our children?
3. Organization, Fiscal and Leadership Skills. Ask – what experience does this candidate bring to the table? Do they understand and respect the differences between policy- making and administration? Can they work with a budget?
4. Seeks Excellence in Education. Ask – is this candidate open to new ideas? Is the candidate committed to quality through innovation and professional development? Do they have high expectations for achievement for all students?
5. Community Builder and Leader. Ask – what other organizations, boards, or activities has this candidate been involved in? Will they be a positive role model for our youth?