Question, "What do you think the job of a Board of Education member is?" Please address the following:
1. What power does the position convey?
2. What is the best use of that power?
3. To whom is the Board of Education member responsible?
No matter what particular issues interest you the most in this race, these questions must come first. If an elected Board Member does not understand the responsibility, power and limitations s/he has, then none of the other things stand a chance of being addressed. Good intentions are not enough.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Our Board members must know how to do the job, and why they do it.
It is with this in mind that this blog endorses the following candidates for the Board of Education:
Ms. Altwerger has an excellent understanding of the needs and rights of all of the constituent groups that make up the system as a whole. This is important for the development of a more positive and less adversarial relationship with teachers and parents. Her experience as a teacher and a teacher of teachers gives her the long perspective on what high-stakes testing has done to our classrooms. She will bring knowledge, experience, and advocacy for stakeholders to her position of the Board.
Dr. Beams brings a much-needed developmental perspective to the role of Board Member. Achievement goals will be seen through the lens of what is developmentally appropriate for the students at each age level. In addition, she sees listening and addressing community needs sees as an important part of a Board Member's role. As we look for a more collaborate and less top-down model for our schools, this will be key.
Dan Furman brings experience working within the school system and knowledge of the inner workings of Central Office. He has a valuable perspective in 'how things get done' and also how the law works to support students and families. He has also worked in special education advocacy law, which means he will be an excellent resource for the Board as a whole in addressing special needs issues.
Cindy Vaillancourt has been willing to serve as an independent voice on the board when doing so has been uncomfortable and unpopular. She has used her conscience to work on behalf of contituents. As a Board Member, Ms. Vaiilancourt has been active in the school community and responsive to parent questions, either by mail or in board meetings. She is a strong supporter of music and arts education and world languages.
Now, a disclaimer of sorts: My husband taught Ms, Vaillancourt's son for several years at River Hill High School. They developed a good parent-teacher relationship throughout the years. Because of this, when I have had questions about issues relating to the Board of Education/school system I have felt comfortable directing them to her. She has always responded in a polite and timely manner.
There you have it. Nothing sordid, nothing shady, no backroom deals or telling tales out of school.
Tomorrow: a few words on some of the other folks in the race.