Monday, October 1, 2012

Craig Clark, petition candidate, House District 52

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: Parents need the power over their children's education. I have a 4 and 2 year old. As a parent I am worried about what will be taught and how my children are taught in school. Personally I would love to have a voucher system for my children. While opting out would be good as I could see as a parent, ok I want my child to be taught subjects and skills not test taking. However, unless I had some assurances that my child will not face the test taking culture I can not see how a decent way to implement this unless we have a voucher system that removes the money with the child. Right now I would say I would need more details to support this unless it was a voucher system then I would say 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: Childhood is fleeting and treating children like cattle does them no good. I have 2 sisters that teach and the subject of lunch came up. As a parent I believe there are certain life lessons we need our children to face and learn. One of those is how to handle money and what to do when you loose it. I want to have my children handle money and see how much things cost. A credit system denies children of that experience and money becomes and intangible. One of my sisters said "Craig, we have to have the credit/charge system otherwise we can not get the children through lunch in the 25 minutes we get." I was appalled 25 minutes to obtain, eat and cleanup. No wonder we have a childhood obesity issue. Our children are herded into a lunch room, fed and moved back to the classroom all in order to pay homage to the almighty Standardized test. Our Children have lost their playtime the chance to be just kids. No wonder they are stressed and bored they are placed in a system at age 5 that focuses on results of tests not the complete development of children. So yes, I would support efforts to give children proper time to relax and play.

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: As a parent I am worried about one size fits all education system. A national standard should never come into existence as each State and each Community is unique and has unique needs. I would only want to see universal standards go only as high as the State level but in very limited role. The reason is as I stated before I would as a parent love to have vouchers for my children and under a voucher system with local control we would create a very strong consumer model that allows schools to adapt the best teaching techniques to draw the students into their schools. So yes I would be willing to support more local control but still keep the State involved and the Federal level completely out.

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: As I mentioned above in lunch and recess I would like to see children have the time to relax and play during the school day. My sister's who are teachers say they are under pressure to teach materials and subjects on Standardized tests. More school could be beneficial if we had more days to school year to allow for the longer lunch and recess. We could also use extra days as prep days for Standardized test thus returning the regular school year to instruction of subjects and eliminating some of the pressure on students and teachers. This could also be a means to allow a parent to opt their child out of the testing by allowing the parents to place their child in an elective subject during the extended school days. I am not against a longer school year but it must add value to the total education system.

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: I had to talk with my sisters about this and how it affects them in the classroom. They were telling me it is necessary in order help a special needs child develop while in the classroom as they are sometimes not getting basic skills such as hand washing taught at home. I can see how that would be beneficial in that situation. However having PBIS being used on all children then in the long run probably does not help our children and most likely will hurt them. I have worked as a Manager in retail I have had employees that expect only praise and do not have the ability to handle negative feedback. While we all do work better with praise there are times that negative feedback must be give. It is how you handle and deliver negative feedback is a skill children need to learn. Basically its development of proper manners that PBIS would hinder. Therefore as a parent if PBIS would be used to manipulate my child into perfect behavior as the school determines then I would not want it. I want my children to behave with proper manners and using PBIS to elicit proper behavior is denying children the chance to implement proper manners and instead dehumanizes them by turning them into a Pavlov dog. So based on my information of PBIS I would not want this in the schools system and probably would not support any law that allows such method into the school system.

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: Our children are more wired than any generation before them. Their means of socialization has adapted and changed due to being wired. As such we should be reaching out to our children in a means that they are comfortable with. That is increase class size could be used if we use more online instruction in the class room. Rural schools are shrinking and using online methods where the students take their lecture and home online would allow more students to be taught at the same time and more detailed instruction would be given to students as a group only on the areas they are weak in. Thus a child that understands adding fractions but struggles with multiplying fractions would only go to the multiplying fractions group. Thus multiple Rural schools could pools resources and have the lecture given to their students and say the Math teacher at each school would guide the groups. This could allow for larger class sizes while still giving small group instruction. I would support methods that use more technology and bring our schools out of the 20th century and into the 21st century.

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: It is no secret Left no child behind is a failure. I would like to see it out of the school systems and considering the recent Supreme Court ruling on health care that says the Federal government can not force the State to expand Medicaid or face financial penalties. Then the State might have a way by using that ruling to opt out and not loose federal money. I would like to see left no child behind taken out and if Iowa could fund its school system without Federal money then I would not be opposed to that either.

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