Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dave Jacoby, Democrat, House District 74

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: To produce accurate information we need all students to be tested. Tests should not be stand alone evaluations of the student or teacher.

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: Students need 1/2 hour for lunch. The scheduling is a local decision.

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, especially with STEM initiatives. Allowable growth should be set at 2 percent per year plus 1 percent for STEM (for ALL students). Next year may require 3 to 6 percent due to the Governor and House republicans slashing of K-12 funding.

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: We should had one to two weeks and the hour count should be a local decision.

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: No.

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: Absolutely not. New methods of instruction via electronics is exciting new territory, but one constant remains the same-smaller class sizes produce the best results.

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: While small portions of each have addressed changing needs, they both were conceived without adequate parent and teacher input.

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