This is not a very pleasant time for public education. The pressures on schools are immense both financially and politically. Why do you want to be on the school board at this time?
I have always been involved with public service and feel I can offer insight.
I have taught in public schools in Michigan for 36 years (24 in TCAPS). The district has been a very big part of my life. I have a degree in school administration and feel I can comprehend the problems quickly. I am deeply concerned about the inequity in public school funding. I am hopeful that this injustice can be remedied. I feel strongly that a public education is part of a democracy. I feel that academics should always be the main goal of education. I feel that extra curricular activities and the entire school experience are important to the whole student.
What is the primary role of the school board and its members?
I feel that the school board and its members are the voice of the public in its school system. I feel that they should be informed of all decisions made with public funds. I feel that they should work closely with the entire system. I feel there should be open communication among the board, the staff, the administration and the public. I feel that an informed board and public will always make the right decisions for our students.
How do you identify a good school or school system? What are the indicators of success?
I believe that a good school system has an active enthusiastic corps of teachers and support staff. Education happens in the classroom. The classrooms should be exciting enthusiastic environments for students.
The schools should be safe places for all students. Parents should be partners in the process. Parents' input should be a welcome addition.
There should be trust among all the staff and participants. All parties should feel that they are a team working toward the same goals.
Test scores and the future success of graduates of the district are good indicators of its success. However test scores are not the entire picture.
The pride of the public in its district is also a good indicator of its success.
Evaluate TCAPS by the criteria you just described.
I feel that TCAPS has always offered the public a quality education. I feel that the current economic situation in the State of Michigan offers great challenges. I think all programs should be constantly monitored to make sure that the district is doing things in the most efficient manner. I believe that our citizens expect constant improvement and monitoring. I am proud to have taught in this district and expect that it will listen to the public and strive for improvement in all areas especially academic. The new state requirements are a challenge and I think we need to do whatever we can to meet the new requirements but still offer a program with electives.
Government officials in Lansing and Washington D.C. constantly talk about reform. Do you think TCAPS needs to be reformed? How?
I think reform is a constant. I think reform without support is a pipe dream.
I think reform comes from within in education. I think students should have many choices in the classes that they take. Reforming education to have more vocational choices is, in my opinion, the correct path to follow.
I think that we need to have graduates who are prepared for the future.
Technology is increasing the number of future choices our graduates will make. We need to have critical thinking skills as part of the experience.
We need to have problem solving. We also need to keep the basics as a core of our product.
Do you think TCAPS has strong leadership? Explain where you see leadership failing or succeeding?
I feel that TCAPS has excellent leadership. I think what the finance department has done to increase efficiency and organize the selling of bonds to increase value is excellent. I feel what they have done with the future planning financially is excellent. The work that they are doing to collaborate with other governmental organizations is excellent. The attempt to improve the equity in per pupil spending that I have witnessed is commendable.
If there were an area where extra effort is needed, I would say it is in communication with the public. I feel that the current system of communication with the public has lost its way. I feel that perhaps the employees and parents feel they have no say.
How do you stay informed about education and what is happening with schools in Michigan and Traverse City?
I read educational periodicals. I attend board meetings or watch them on the public channel. I read minutes of the State Board of Education. I talk with other teachers. I read posted information about educational practices in our town and state.
How well has TCAPS responded to the competition of charter schools in the area?
I think that there has been competition and loss of enrollment. From what I have read about charter schools and from what the research tells me, academic results are either equal or inferior to our results. I think there are areas where TCAPS could add programs to help parents that would make the TCAPS experience more desirable.
TCAPS will likely have to make deep cuts in the years ahead. What would you most like to protect from cuts?
I feel that cuts should be made with across the board considerations.
I feel that no area should be cut entirely. I feel that no group should be targeted to the exclusion of others. I feel academic programs should be kept at the current level or increased. I think all gifted and talented programs should be maintained. I think that the more programs you have, the better our system. A democracy is based on a free public education. I think we need to keep our district strong.