Marian Cutler for Board of Education
Sunday, November 3, 2013 • 12:34pm
Why do I want to serve on the BOE? I want great schools for all of our children, our businesses and our community. The good schools we have in this district will become even better when we focus our leadership in three areas: Accountability, financial responsibility and opportunity.
First, we must focus on accountability. The board must have high standards for itself, the employees of the district, and our students and families. We should expect great results in our schools. We, as a board, should make deliberate use of all the data available to us in our decision making for the district.
Second, we must focus on financial responsibility. Board members should insist that the school district remains financially healthy. For me, it is making sure that the resources we have been entrusted with are spent well and focused on educating students. Given our limited resources, we have to make fiscally sound choices, opting for the greatest educational impact, understanding that it is not possible to do everything we could wish for. Additionally, we must fight to maintain a transparent budgeting process so everyone can know how taxpayer money is spent.
Third, we must focus on extending opportunity to all students. We must offer a world class education to a child regardless of who they are or where they have come from. I want a student to get a top-notch education no matter if they struggle with learning disabilities or are gifted and talented or have English as a second language. We should provide an excellent education for students who are college bound or going straight into the workforce. SOMSD should have as its goal high achievement and not just proficiency. And, let’s stop equating achievement with opportunity … they are not the same thing.
Fundamentally, the BOE should play a leadership role in the community, proactively seeking greater involvement and responsibility on the part of parents. Our parents must understand the educational process and the importance of their personal role and joint accountability in preparing their children for school and supporting their education throughout the years. We are doing a weak job of including teachers, parents and the public in helping us solve district problems. We need to have a true dialogue, a give and take, a genuine desire to understand what people are thinking, in essence, real communication. The other problem is we don't include the community up front in solving problems. We give the public options and ask them to fight over them, instead of using the public's expertise and ideas to develop the options. By not valuing community input and not being open to ideas and concerns of parents and citizens, they have built a wall which shuts out the very people the board is designed to serve.
We need to settle the equity problems once and for all. The best way to settle the equity problems plaguing SOMSD is to make sure our offerings meet the needs of the kids in each school. It means we make a commitment that each school will be orderly, meaning kids are regularly engaged in what they should be working on. It means we make a massive effort to arrest the barriers that poverty and language differences play in our children's education. It means we don't rely on testing to close the so-called achievement gap, but instead rely on making sure kids who are behind get the help they need and kids who are ready to go faster can, in essence close the opportunity gap – achievement and education are not the same.
I know what I want to accomplish as a Board member – I want to build a bridge between the classroom and the boardroom by stressing the community’s shared vision and beliefs.
Please vote for me for Board of Education on Tuesday, November 5, Line 3I.