Tuesday, March 27, 2007

If I Were A School Board Candidate

The school board candidates were asked three questions at a recent forum. Their answers are in today's JT A+ section. The following are the questions, and how I would have answered them.

Q: What is your vision for Racine Unified?
A: Actually, political visions are the problem. When politicians enforce their visions, they are undermining the visions parents have for their children. I do not assume that my vision is superior to the vision that a parent has for his or her children. So what we need to do is return power to parents, so that their visions will be taken seriously. The best way to do that, that I know of, is to provide school vouchers to parents. That way, parents could send their children to the school that best meets their needs and their visions for their children. Beware of politicians with visions.

Q: Should the School Board reflect the community's racial diversity?
A: No, not necessarily. The function of a school board is to oversee the delivery of public education. As such, I can only hope that the best qualified individuals will be chosen by voters, regardless of their skin color. To vote for or against someone because of their skin color is a racist act. It is my hope that racists will not affect the school board race.

Q: What are your thoughts on a possible referendum?
A: I am opposed to another referendum for a number of reasons. Presently, RUSD is receiving over $12,000 per student. That is more than the tuition of each of our private schools, with the possible exception of Prairie School. So long as the public mistakenly believes in the propaganda that our public schools are underfunded, we will not be able to address the real problems, most of which stem from the nearly unchecked influence of the teachers union.

15 comments:

The Fishmonger said...

I wonder if the operating revenue of private schools comes solely from tuition. I believe that most of them (with the exception of Prairie, at least)are connected with churches. My wife's church congregation substantially underwrites their school. I'd imagine most do the same.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Dennis.

eric said...

FYI: Prairie tuition is around $11,000/student at the secondary level. Additionally, approximately $2,000/student from a trust set up by the Johnson Family also supports operating costs.

Anonymous said...

Most churches kick in on tutition, but they still educate kids for far less than RUSD does.

Anonymous said...

My answers:

Vision?
The vision for the district should be to redevelop its older and severely outdated buildings to meet 21st century security standards and student capacity, make parent/gaurdian involvement of some form a mandatory requireme. Also make non-compliance of this requirement subject to jail and fines. Fostering a better work environment for teachers would also be on my agenda.

Racial diversity?
Of course it should be. Also, the reality is that people vote with skin color as one of the many determining factors of their decision, to think otherwise would be an absurd distortion of the truth. Look at the sex and race of every single US president over the past 3 centuries. Their have been many qualified females, blacks and hispanics to hold the top job over the centuries.

Referendum?
Yes. Not one private school in the area is remotely comparable to rusd as RUSD charged itself with educating all children, all races, who come from all economic status levels as well as level of disability. All traits that no private school is willing to take on. Private schools tend to focus on one segment of the general population. RUSD is the only school system in the area that is truly designed to accomodate all students no matter how much money is thier parents bank accounts or who their god is. This equates to a unmatched amount of responsibility, number of students to accomodate, and an infrastructure that no private school can come close to. They need more money to do this.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon #3, thanks for sharing your answers. I find them fascinating, particularly the jail time idea for parents who do not conform to your vision. While I advocate for more academic freedom for parents and children, you prefer incarceration. But I suppose it makes a perverse kind of sense, as it is apparent that RUSD advocates have to blame others for the obvious failures of the system. Throwing parents in jail, or executing them, I suppose, is the logical conclusion to the illogical blame-the-parents-first mindset.

On racial diversity, I wonder if you might share with us which non-white, non-male you would have elevated to the presidency?

And lastly, can you put a dollar figure on how much it would cost, per student, to achieve your goals for RUSD? We are over $12,000 per student right now.

Anonymous said...

Anon #3
No Private school in the Racine area I know of discriminates based on race, ability to pay, or religion. This notion that kids who attend private schools come from weathly families is pure ignorance. Some private school families are weathly, so are some RUSD families. Private schools do discriminate against students who are unwilling to learn, behave, or follow the rules.
Not many private schools can accommodate students with certain disabilities, this is true. RUSD has charged itself with accepting all students and maybe this is part of the problem. Is it the role of RUSD to enroll students that are so severly disabled that they cannot be educated? I don't suggest disabled kids be left out on the curb, but perhaps there is a better solution than RUSD. The problem may be the manner in which RUSD chooses to educate disabled students. Perhaps instead of sprinkling disabled students all over the district in the name of "mainstreaming" or diversity, it would be better to co-locate these students to eliminate redundant resources. Of course this is just one aspect of the whole system.

What proof or evidence is there that racial diversity improves education?

Anonymous said...

Denis,
As for a black female for President, I could see Condi Rice doing pretty well. As for a black male, Fredrick Douglas would have been cool. He was intelligent, had experience, and he had great hair. He also, I believe, married a white woman which would really help to fullfill the diversity requirement. Oddly enough I no hispanics except for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. He would not be my choice but he is qualified. I think it is a failing in my education that I cannot readily come up with many hispanic's to be elevated to the presidency. I blame it on the fact that Black history month is heavily marketed, but hispanic history month is not. Maybe it is because my classroom was not racially diverse enoungh.
Same Anon as post above this one

Anonymous said...

Denis, let me ask 3 questions, what is illogical about making parents responsible and accountable for the disruptive/destructive and violent behaviors of thier own underage children. Children who make it difficult for the children who do want to learn, enjoy learning and value education?

Also, what purpose does it serve to all stakesholders in spending valuable rusd time, resources and most importantly, money on kids and parents who have absolutley no desire to empower themselves through education?

Also, are parents not a part of the education system?

In addition, incarceration has been a tool for combating truancy for years, why is this now illogical?

Anon#1, i'll address you shortly, i'm eager to hear from Denis first.

Anonymous said...

A candidate for the RUSD Board could get my vote with a two word platform:

NO REFERRENDUM!

-E

the anonymous eric said...

Forgive my skeptisism, but the last referndum was pushed by threat of no sports. This referendum will be based on the need for more building security. Former government budget experience tells we find the hot button issue, and then fund everything else that we can remotely relate to the main issue plus a few more things of no relation. I supect in the final analysis you'll find very little of the newly authorized funds go to either sports or building security.

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, allow me to clarify my position. Perhaps illogical was a poor choice of words. Irresponsible would have been a better choice. It is irresponsible of teachers to constantly blame the parents of their students. Clearly parents are important with respect to educating their children, and clearly many parents in Racine perform poorly in this regard. I am not in denial about the poor parenting that abounds in this city and this country. Note my most recent post about Racine's most basic problem which is an overabundance of losers. That said, I believe it is irresponsible of the teaching profession to go after parents, threatening them with jail time etc... For starters, it won't work. We need to face the fact that there are crummy parents out there and you are not going to change them. It is entirely silly to think that you can improve the parenting skills of adults, whom you have little or no access to, while you are unable to teach children (which is your job) whom you have access to all day long. So the blame-the-parents-first mindset is really just an excuse for the failures of the education system. Imagine if doctors went on a publicity campaign, criticizing their dead patients for poor eating habits. Imagine an engineer, looking at the ruble of a collapsed building, blaming his calculator. Imagine me, a retailer, blaming my customers poor sense of style, for declining sales. The common denominator here is a professional making excuses for his/her failures. Disgusting! Of course there are challenges in any profession. Teachers have to deal with a lot, it is true. Do so with dignity. If you can't do the job, let someone else do the job. This is another reason why vouchers are a great idea. There are people out there that CAN educate difficult children with disinterested parents.

Denis Navratil said...

anon, I didn't get to one of your questions.

You asked, "Also, what purpose does it serve to all stakesholders in spending valuable rusd time, resources and most importantly, money on kids and parents who have absolutley no desire to empower themselves through education?"

It makes no sense, but that is how public schools operate. Kids who don't want to learn not only disrupt the education of all the other children, they also use up more of the resources available. But the teachers union would never advocate a policy of expelling these children, because the increased number of special ed kids means more jobs and higher salaries for teachers.

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