1) What background or prior life experience qualifies you for a position on the Board of Education? What inspired you to run for a position on the BOE at this particular time?
I have been a volunteer in the Bristol Public Schools for over 15 years, serving in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility. I have been a PTO President, written and edited a school newsletter, chaired Project Graduation, and served on the Superintendent search committee to replace Dr. Ann Clark. I have loved having a direct impact on the lives of Bristol’s children. Now that my own children are off to college, I would like to continue my service in a meaningful way. I believe public service is an obligation and am eager to serve.
2) If elected, what would be your immediate priorities?
The Board of Education has a number of challenges in the coming years: two new schools coming on line, older (but beloved) schools closing, a city-wide redistricting plan, replacing Dr. Streifer, and finding a balance between increased costs and decreased revenue. In addition to these pressing issues, I would like to promote our schools within our community. The public and local businesses need to know what a great job our schools are doing. I also think this would go a long way to improve sometimes antagonistic relationships among city boards.
3) What is the role of parents and teachers in educational decision making? How will you seek out the input of each and maintain communication?
Communication is so key to the success of our schools. As a PTO President I was often frustrated when I would send home a notice or newsletter asking for involvement or just an opinion and receive little response. Teachers are the “boots on the ground”. They know what’s working and what’s not. Parents are the most important advocates for their own children. Unfortunately, parents only seem to rally or attend board meetings when a hot button issue like middle school sports arises. I will make myself available by phone or email to any teachers or parents. I will attend PTA/PTO meetings, back to school nights, and other functions to be a visible and available resource in the community.
4) What are the dividing lines between parents, teachers, and administrators when it comes to accountability for student progress?
Parents, teachers and administrators are all stake holders in the success of our students. Parents don’t have performance reviews or have their salaries published in the newspaper, so teachers and administrators are the ones held accountable. It’s a parent’s job to send his child to school ready to learn. Schools work best when there is a collaborative effort among parents, teachers and administrators.
5) What is your opinion of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) act and its legacy?
NCLB has created a culture of “teaching to the test”. The federal government has more strings attached to school funding than ever before. Even success can be punished, when additional funding is removed once schools show improvement. Those funds are an integral part of the school’s improvement! So many teachers have told me how limited they feel by the constraints of NCLB. No longer can they take a detour in a lesson plan if they find something the children are excited about, and I believe some subjects now get short shrift in order to pursue proficiency in math and reading.
Race to the Top, NCLB’s newest iteration, frees some schools from meeting goals in the prescribed time frame, but with huge strings attached to funding. Funds are limited and school systems must compete against one another to secure them. There could be a move to more privately managed charter schools, which means a further loss to public school budgets. Accountability is the new buzz word, with efforts to tie teachers’ performance reviews to students’ achievement without the tools to adequately measure individual student’s progress.
6) What else would you like our members to know about your candidacy?
I am a candidate because I believe every child has a right to a quality public education. My own two children are enjoying a great college experience, for which Bristol Public schools prepared them. My hope is that every child can reach his greatest potential. I returned to college while my children were in school and obtained my B.A. in Mathematics. I wanted to model for them the importance of education.