Friday, August 26, 2011

Candidates’ responses: Karla Cook [Updated 8/29]

Karla Cook just sent me a partial response to my candidate questionnaire, and said that she “will continue to work on your concerns and questions,” which I hope means that more responses will be coming. In the meantime, here are her thoughts on two of the questions:

1. Should the school board ensure that elementary school students get more than fifteen minutes for lunch? If so, what should the minimum lunch period be? (See the petition about this issue here.)
As to the lunch time issue, I talked with a parent at Hoover and 2 grandmothers in the district. The parent thought the time was appropriate. However, the grandmothers indicated that they thought the children appeared to be rushed. I would be in favor of allowing the children to finish their lunches whether that was 15-25 minutes. It would be taken out of the lunch recess or whatever activity that was planned for that extra time. I would hope that no school personnel would encourage students to eat too fast or throw away needed food.
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?
When I taught at City High, we were concerned with "teaching to the test" in order to make our schools look good. We determined that it would not encourage students to become life-long learners - just momentary-learners, enough to do O.K. on the test. I know that happens in other states and districts. From the number of schools on the SINA list in Iowa City, I think that is not happening here. I am not in favor of "high stakes" testing in any part. Standardized testing is supposed to be a measure of how much progress a student is making. It is not always a good measure as some students do not test well for what ever reason.
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?
I read some of the blogs and while I agree that students should not be rewarded for what should be normal good behavior, I know that some students have not received the appropriate parenting before attending school. This is still obvious in some students at the high school level. That leaves the schools to deal with teaching the behaviors that are needed in school. It is hard to have a group of students treated differently than the rest. I would imagine that the teachers have decided that all students will be rewarded so that the ones who are in need of the instruction will not stand out.

I would hope that the reinforcement of the behaviors by giving token rewards would taper off as the student population becomes accoustomed to the rules.
Links to other candidates’ responses are here.

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