It is the responsibility of the School Board to make policy decisions, not operational decisions. Therefore, the amount of time designated for lunch is not under the purview of the Board, but rather a decision of the administration of each school. As a parent, you are entitled to (and I believe, correct to) be an advocate for your children on this issue. Building principals and the superintendent are the officials to address these concerns to, as you have done. When my children were in elementary school, I also acted as an advocate for them on lunch issues. I do know that some elementary schools have made some in their lunch procedure for this school year.2. On balance, has the No Child Left Behind Act been good for Iowa City’s public school children?
While I agree with the idea behind the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), its assessment method is flawed and therefore it has not proven to be beneficial. Yes, we need to assess whether our children are learning what they need to learn. NCLB has made administrators and educators more aware of this, which is a good thing. However, the act uses a single standardized testing each year for this assessment. There are many factors affecting student performance that are not measurable by standardized tests. NCLB is also set up as a punitive system, rather than focusing on providing the help and resources needed. Additionally, the goals of NCLB in Iowa are unachievable, as by the year 2014 the goal is 100% proficiency, which means that by that time all of the schools in the ICCSD will be labeled as schools in need of assistance. Hopefully if/when the legislature reauthorizes this act in 2014, some of these issues will be addressed.3. Do you think that standardized testing plays too large a role in our school system? If so, what should the school board do about it?
Standardized tests do serve a purpose and can be helpful in assessing achievement when looked at as a part of the whole picture. I don't think that we should stop giving standardized tests to students. We do need to be careful about the way these scores are used. (See answer to question number 2.)4. Local school boards have been increasingly subject to state and federal mandates. Do school board members have an obligation to think independently about whether those mandates are good for kids? If so, what should a school board member do if he or she concludes that those mandates are not in the best interests of the kids, or are contrary to our community’s values? (See this post.)
Just as School Board members have an obligation to be knowledgeable about state and federal mandates, they also have a responsibility to think independently and assess those mandates. The School Board also has a responsibility to ensure those mandates are being followed. In cases where School Boards disagree with the mandates, they need to work at the state and federal level to make changes. School Boards often act as a liaison between school districts and the legislature.5. Do you support the current pervasive use of token rewards to get students to comply with school rules? If not, what role should the school board take in reining that practice in?
As I mentioned in answering question number 1, it is the responsibility of the School Board to make policy decisions, not operational decisions. The use of reward tokens does not fall under the responsibility of the Board.6. How should the schools approach the teaching of moral or ethical values? (See this post and this post.)
Even if it were advisable, I think it is impossible to quantify moral and ethical values. We strive to teach our children to be independent thinkers, but it is a reality that we also need rules and therefore must teach children to follow those rules. It is important that schools recognize they are partners with parents and guardians in this area.7. What should the district’s plan be as the number of SINA schools grows and the number of schools into which those students can transfer shrinks?
The District needs to evaluate all schools and provide resources and assistance where needed to meet challenges specific schools may be facing. We are fortunate to have excellent schools in the Iowa City Community School District and we need to work to maintain that excellence. As I alluded to in my answer to question number 2, the method for designating SINA schools has some flaws. The School Board can be an advocate for the schools in this district by educating the public about how the SINA designation is determined and by bringing to the public's attention the wonderful things that occur at our schools on a daily basis.Links to other candidates’ responses are here.