Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pat Branco, Republican, House District 34

1. Opting out of testing. Many parents are concerned that important educational values are being sacrificed because of the use of high-stakes standardized testing to evaluate kids, schools, and educators. Would you support legislation to permit parents to opt their children out of such testing without repercussions?

A: Yes.

2. Cuts in lunch and recess. In our district, the time devoted to recess has been reduced, and the elementary school students get only fifteen minutes or less to eat lunch. District officials attribute those changes directly to state pressure to teach more material and maximize “instructional minutes.” (See posts here and here.) What, if anything, should the state do to remedy the situation?

A: Balance is important and a 15 minute lunch is not healthy. 30 minutes should be the minimum and breaks are important too to refresh and re-focus.If the school day has to last for an additional hour so be it.

3. Local control. Because of state and federal regulation, individual communities now have relatively little control over the educational policies that govern their schools, and many parents feel that they have little to no say over what goes on in their kids’ schools. Do you think that local school districts should have more control over educational policy? If so, in what specific ways?

A: Yes, and as with many private school they should have a board with authority to make decisons.

4. More school? Should state law require all kids to spend more time in school – either by lengthening the school day, extending the school year, or both? (See this post.)

A: That depends on the curriculum and the need to support the times mentioned above for a decent lunch time. I would want to study this more.

5. PBIS. The state Department of Education wants to require all school districts to implement Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), a program that uses material rewards to train kids to reflexively obey school rules. (See posts here and here.) Do you support requiring all school districts to use PBIS?

A: Need to study this furthur.If it is ethics and moral behavior, making better young adults? maybe. I will look it over.

6. Class size. Do you agree with our state Director of Education that we should tolerate larger class sizes in exchange for programs designed to “improve educator effectiveness”?

A: I am all for improving educator effectiveness and accountability but not sure if larger classrooms are going to help .

7. No Child Left Behind. Have No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top done more harm than good, or vice versa? Should Iowa opt out of No Child Left Behind, even if it means forgoing federal funds?

A: I would opt to keep the funds, review the program and see if it is salvageable with some adjustments at the local level. I think it need to be re-evaluated because to move someone forward that cant keep up is doing more harm than good.

Please contact me if any of these answers need clarification.Keep in mind I haven't been exposed to the issues in minute detail as well...have answered from the heart.

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