BELOW ARE MY ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS THAT I POSED TO ALL THE CANDIDATES FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE. MY RESPONSES ARE IN CAPITAL LETTERS.
Why would anyone in their right mind want to run for a seat on the Longmeadow School Committee? Why are you running?
SERVING ON THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE IS A CHALLENGE. THERE CAN BE A NUMBER OF FRUSTRATIONS. IT IS A FORM OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND THE STUDENTS NEED TO HAVE SOME ONE TO LOOK OUT FOR THEIR BEST INTERESTS. THAT IS WHY HORACE MANN ADVOCATED FOR THEIR CREATION.
Do you believe that the Longmeadow schools are clean and healthy buildings?
I DO NOT THINK THEY ARE BEING CLEANED ADEQUATELY. THIS ENTAILS HEALTH RISKS.
Is our custodial coverage adequate to the task?
NO. THERE HAVE BEEN CUTS IN THIS COVERAGE.
If not what do you propose to do about the problem?
I BELIEVE WE WILL NEED TO HIRE MORE CUSTODIANS.
Do you believe that the MCAS tests are worthwhile?
I DO NOT SUPPORT MASS TESTING. WE SHOULD SPEND MORE TIME DOING DISCUSSIONS, DEBATES, WORKING ON RESEARCH SKILLS, SPEAKING SKILLS, ESSAY WRITING AND CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS.
Do they promote "teaching to the test" rather than more worthwhile classroom interactions.
YES, THEY DO. I DON’T THINK SCHOOLS SHOULD BE ABOUT PREPARING STUDENTS TO TAKE TESTS. SCHOOLS SHOULD BE PREPARING STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE, ADULT LIFE AND THE WORLD OF WORK AND LEISURE. I THINK WE SHOULD TRY TO CULTIVATE DEMOCRACY AND CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS. MOST STUDENTS FORGET WHAT WAS ON A TEST A FEW DAYS AFTER TAKING IT. EDUCATION IS NOT THE SAME THING AS INDOCTRINATION.
To what extent do you think teachers should rely on a textbook for their course?
I THINK TEXTBOOKS ARE OVER-RATED. THEY ARE USEFUL FOR REFERENCE AND PROBABLY SHOULD BE KEPT IN A CLASSROOM OR AT HOME FOR HOMEWORK REFERENCE. STUDENTS SHOULD BE BRINGING A NOTEBOOK TO CLASS AND SHOULD HAVE A PORTFOLIO OF THEIR WORK. STUDENTS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO DO “COMPARE AND CONTRAST” PROJECTS. TEXTBOOKS TEND TO DEVELOP THE NOTION THAT THERE IS ONE SOURCE FOR TRUTH. AT THE END OF A COURSE OF STUDY A STUDENT SHOULD HAVE A PORTFOLIO OF COMPLETED PROJECTS THAT SHOW REAL GROWTH IN SKILLS FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE COURSE TO THE END.
Do you believe that class size is important for student learning?
DEFINITELY. SMALL CLASS SIZES SUPPORT STUDENT INTERACTION AND LEARNING. LARGE LECTURE CLASSES ENCOURAGE DICTATION NOT COMMUNICATION. WHEN DISCUSSING CLASS SIZE WE SHOULD NOT INCLUDE GUIDANCE COUNSELORS IN THE TEACHER TALLY. WE SHOULD HAVE A BETTER RATIO OF GUIDANCE COUNSELORS TO STUDENTS.
Many prep schools focus on class discussion skills and research skills and critical thinking skills, to what extent do you think Longmeadow schools should emphasize such learning?
I BELIEVE THAT IS THE DIRECTION IN WHICH WE SHOULD BE HEADING.
What role do you think the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should play in the funding of our local schools?
THE COMMONWEALTH HAS NOT BEEN SHOULDERING ITS BURDEN. THEY SHOULD FUND SPECIAL EDUCATION FOR ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS. UNFUNDED MANDATES ARE A PROBLEM. THE COMMONWEALTH HAS THE POWER TO RAISE FUNDS ADEQUATE TO THE TASK. THIS MIGHT REQUIRE AN INCREASE IN THE SALES TAX OR THE INCOME TAX, BUT IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE. WE SHOULD NOT BE GIVING CORPORATIONS AND HOLLYWOOD FILM COMPANIES TAX BREAKS TO OPERATE IN MASSACHUSETTS.
Do you see a role for the federal government in the funding of our public school system?
THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PROGRAM WAS SUPPOSED TO DO THAT. ALONG CAME THE INVASION AND OCCUPATION OF IRAQ AND THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION STOPPED TALKING ABOUT AID TO SCHOOLS. WE ARE SPENDING MORE THAN $4,000.00 A SECOND ON THE IRAQ WAR. THE PENTAGON IS STILL THE BIGGEST BENEFICIARY OF THE US TREASURY.
Do you believe the Iraq war and its related costs have anything to do with the problems local school systems are currently facing? Please explain your position.
BESIDES NOT FUNDING SCHOOLS PROPERLY BECAUSE THE MONEY IS GOING TO THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT NOT THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT, SO-CALLED DEFENSE SPENDING IS BOOSTING INFLATION. INFLATION IS A HIDDEN TAX ON SCHOOLS. DOLLARS FOR FISCAL 2009 ARE WORTH LESS THAN IN FISCAL 2008. STOP AND THINK HOW MUCH FUEL THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT BURNS TO KEEP SHIPS SAILING, PLANES FLYING AND TANKS ROLLING. THE COST OF THAT FUEL IS GOING UP AND THE VALUE OF THE DOLLAR IS GOING DOWN.
How do you stand on environmental questions? Do you support recycling in our schools? How would you enforce it?
I SUPPORT SOUND ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMS. THE PLANET IS OUR HOME AND WHAT WE DO TO IT HAS AN IMPACT ON US AND OUR FUTURE. I THINK WE SHOULD HAVE MANDATORY RECYCLING IN ALL OUR SCHOOLS. THE CUSTODIANS AND TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS MUST BE MANDATED TO PARTICIPATE IN IT. IT SHOULD BE PART OF CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. IT CAN’T JUST BE A VOLUNTEER EFFORT OF A STUDENT CLUB. PAPER IS EXPENSIVE AND IT CAN BE RECYCLED.
Should we build a new high school? Should we renovate the old one?
I BELIEVE IT WOULD BE WISER TO BUILD A NEW HIGH SCHOOL. WHAT WE DO WITH THE OLD BUILDING IS A VERY GOOD QUESTION. PERHAPS WE COULD CONVERT IT INTO LOW INCOME HOUSING FOR SENIOR CITIZENS. THE TOWN SHOULD GIVE SOME THOUGHT TO THIS PROJECT.
If we build a new high school will you support a "green architecture model?
GREEN ARCHITECTURE IS THE WAY TO GO FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. IT SHOULD CONSUME VERY LITTLE ENERGY AND WASTE NONE. IT SHOULD INCLUDE SOLAR AND PHOTO-VOLTAIC ENERGY COLLECTION SYSTEMS.
Are you a candidate for the School Committee or the Finance Committee?
I AM A CANDIDATE FOR THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE. WE ARE ELECTED BY THE VOTERS. THE FINANCE COMMITTEE IS AN APPOINTED BOARD. WE LISTEN TO DIFFERENT DRUMMERS.
How do you view the relationship between the School Committee and the Finance Committee?
I THINK THE FINANCE COMMITTEE IS OVERLY CONCERNED ABOUT EXPENDITURES. IT WOULD BE BETTER TO THINK ABOUT WISE EXPENDITURES VERSUS FOOLISH ONES.
How do you view the relationship between the School Committee and the Select Board?
IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO SHARE A COMMON AGENDA. SOME PROGRESS IS BEING MADE IN THAT DIRECTION.
Do you believe that the high school and the middle schools have an adequate number of guidance counselors?
NO I THINK WE SHOULD ADD SOME GUIDANCE COUNSELORS. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH COMMUNICATION WITH STUDENTS UNDER THE CURRENT RATIO.
Do you support a health program at the high school? Are you happy with the status quo with respect to health education at the high school?
I SUPPORT BRINGING BACK A HEALTH COURSE AT THE HIGH SCHOOL. IT IS A WORTHWHILE INVESTMENT.
How do you stand on the question of fees that students are asked to pay for athletics, clubs, parking, etc.?
I DO NOT THINK WE CAN GO ANY FURTHER WITH IMPOSING FEES. I WONDER WHY WE ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO DRIVE THEIR CARS TO THE HIGH SCHOOL. WALKING IS EXCELLENT EXERCISE.
If you have children in the school system, what school(s) do they attend?
I DO NOT HAVE ANY CHILDREN IN THE LONGMEADOW PUBLIC SCHOOLS. I THINK I CAN LOOK AT THE LARGER PICTURE AND ASSESS WHAT WILL BE OF BENEFIT TO THE ENTIRE DISTRICT.