I got a voice message today from a voter asking about if I was for or against Common Core. She did not leave a name or a phone number, so I will answer here on my campaign blog for everyone and hope that she gets the message!
I am for Common Core. I believe a national standard allows for our students to have skills that are transferrable to anywhere in the nation. I would also hope that providing this standard will allow for our teachers to focus on ensuring that the students are actually building skills and are learning. I know those who criticize Common Core are concerned about the transition costs, losing good teachers who don’t want to change, and the actual content of the standards. I understand these concerns, but believe these can be mitigated and make adopting Common Core and net benefit for schools.
Three questions were posed by the Kitsap Sun. Only two of the three candidates have answered them. My answers are posted here too.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for the district when it comes to meeting state and federal education standards?
Washington State is in the process of implementing the Common Core standards for Math and English. The standards must be adopted in order to be able to receive federal funding. In 2012-13, federal funding accounted for 8.6% of revenues. The biggest challenge is to be able to implement the new standards within the existing funds. Additionally, the Common Core testing results are expected to be lower than the assessment to the current standards – and potentially can feed the public perception that our schools are failing.
I understand that the community and the legislature need to know that learning is being accomplished and that the public funds are being well spent. Standards and the corresponding standardized assessments meet this objective. However, I believe assessment is best accomplished in the classroom where the teacher can directly use the information to achieve student learning. Success on testing is just a metric not the goal. The goal is to provide instructional experiences that meeting the unique needs of every student.
What can the NKSD do better to prepare students for life after they graduate from high school?
Since only 81% of NK students actually graduate from high school, I would like to re-phrase the question to talk about what NKSD can do to better prepare all students, not just graduates, for life. I would like to increase the graduation rate and the number of graduates that go to college. I would also like to see the increase of opportunities for students to gain skills that can be used to get employment or build a living. So beyond earning-resources-to-be-self-sufficient, all students at NK should be actively participating in the community based on their understanding of how to be citizens and how to live and advocate their values. NKSD needs to provide a broad range of educational opportunities that leverage our region’s strengths for the benefit of the students and our community.
Looking back on the Breidablik closure process, what would you have done differently?
I followed the school closure process by reading the information posted on-line as it was available, which included the results of the school closure committee meetings and the information that was compiled by the district to support the committee. While the outcome may not have been affected, I would have liked to see better definition of the criteria the committee used and a review of the data presented to ensure its accuracy. I agreed with the district’s approach to holding public meetings at multiple locations to hear community reactions. The district did orchestrate the implementation of the new boundaries and the corresponding process to have families submit requests for attendance at out-of-boundary schools well. Once the closure decision was made, it would be helpful do some public outreach about how the district was going to ensure that the configuration of the new schools would be celebrated and everyone would be welcomed.