Thank you to everyone who participated in — and read along — CVUSD candidate Mary Anne's online Q&A session this morning! For those of you who don't have access to Facebook or were unavailable, I'm compiled the complete* list of questions and answers here, after the jump!
You might want to familiarize yourself with Mary Anne's candidate blog (which featured her answers to a pre-selected set up questions before her session), before you dive in!
Read Mary Anne's CANDIDATE BLOG HERE
Link to Mary Anne's Facebook Online Q&A forum HERE
Did you appreciate Mary Anne's time today in making herself available to answer your questions... and all the time she spent on her pre-selected Q&A questions? Here's how you can help her campaign:
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*Mary Anne's Q&A had an excellent response and she's still answering questions. I will update this further as I have time, but this is a start.
Q: My question: Would you do anything to reverse or revise the contentious board policy regarding core literature?
A: Yes, I think there are many aspects of the policy are troubling. Let's start with the process. The board did not follow its own board policy (BP 9310) which states that the Superintendent or designee writes policy for board approval. Ideally, we would follow that process to rework the policy.
I think it is a mistake for the board to substitute its judgment about books for a parent's. There is no need to call out books with an asterisk that they feel don't meet their personal objections.
Another problem with this policy is the creation of the Core Literature Advisory Parent and Community Committee to review books that are put forward by the English Articulation Committee. Education Code 60002 states, “Each district board shall provide for substantial teacher involvement in the selection of instructional materials and shall promote the involvement of parents and other members of the community in the selection of instructional materials.” Education Code 60002 does not provide for equal review by teachers and parents/community members. The current policy does exactly that by making no distinctions between recommendations from the Core Literature Advisory Parent and Community Committee and the Secondary Curriculum Advisory Council.
One final problem with this policy I would change is on the form to be completed by teachers recommending a book for inclusion in the curriculum. This new form requires a statement describing the context for any swearing, sexual content, or violence. It does not follow the California Department of Education rationale for inclusion in the curriculum:
• Why use this work with this class at this time?
• Will this work meet instructional objectives?
• If problems of style, texture, tone, or theme arise for students who are reading this work, how will those problems be addressed?
• If the instructional objectives are met, how will students benefit from having read and discussed this work?
Q: I just wanted to thank you for contacting the CDE regarding the asterisk/book ban situation.
Along those lines, what book(s) have made an impact on you?
A: The Art of Fielding. The Color Purple. My Antonia.
Q:Thank you for joining this forum, and for serving the community by running for school board. I have a child with ADHD. I have found that most traditional schools (not just in our district), even those who do a great job with special education needs, have not figured out how best to serve the needs of children with ADHD. Do you have any experience in this area and do you have any thoughts on how the district might be better able to serve this need? (Disclaimer: I asked this of Jenny Fitzgerald yesterday and will ask all the candidates.)
A: I have some experience with this. I have a daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD.
As a parent, I had to let some things go. I had to understand that if a subject didn't capture her attention right off the bat, doing homework or, especially, writing about that subject was near impossible. This was not ideal for her education, but we found the things that she was passionate about and really helped her excel in those areas. We were fortunate enough to provide her experiences outside of school like music lessons that really helped her personal and mental development.
I have more to say about how we need to deal with this in the schools, but I'm going to come back to this question later.
After taking some time to organize my thought on this, I have no easy answers. There are things that I have seen help some students some of the time, like having flexible seating arrangements and more hands-on learning. It's really helpful when teachers can make a personal connection with ADHD students and when teachers have an understanding of the brain science behind executive function disorders. My hope is that as the district moves forward with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), classrooms will have more staff who understand a diversity of learning disabilities to work with individually with students.
One more thing that many people don't know about ADHD students is that they wonder why they can't do the things they see their peers doing. They know they aren't stupid; they just can't focus. This can lead to self-esteem issues that, from one parent to another, can be quite serious. The district must also recognize and focus on this area of student emotional and social well being.
There are so many different types of learners in our district. This is one of the main reasons why it's so important to have a diversity of programs in the district. The greater the diversity of subjects and types of activities, the more likely the ADHD student will find the thing in school that can be her anchor and the place where she finds her people.
Q: And what are your thoughts regarding the appointment Lisa Miller Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services - a newly created position? Is this position more beneficial than putting those resources into the school sites?
A. I think the district is wise to have added the fourth criteria to the LCAP with regard to developing social and emotional learning. I am not certain how the administration staffing will pan out. In addition there are two other administrative hires being made right now. They are reorganizing many of the cabinet-level positions to mirror the LCAP.
I know that many of the programs that the district is considering will require additional classroom staffing, such as increased target time to close the achievement gap and testing out the Universal Design for Learning curriculum.
Many of the successful programs in our district or new programs we are considering require additional staffing in the classroom beyond the teacher. This new staffing level can't be accomplished by eliminated one or two administrative positions. But an administrator can work on securing funding through government or private grants to fund an entire program.
Some of the programs the district might embark on will require a new way of thinking and working for parents and educators alike. There has to be someone at the district level serving as a champion for those programs and managing the change required if they are to be successful.
Also important as we embark on trying to improve student achievement where we have been unsuccessful in the past, we have to acknowledge that we don't receive enough funding from the state to accomplish all of our goals. As we vote in November 2018, we should be looking closely at our candidates for statewide office and their views on education funding. We cannot increase classroom staffing at our current funding levels.
Q: And finally, Another question: What role does the Board play in regards to effectiveness and successful outcomes of the much talked about adjusted LCAP goals.
A. It is not Board's role to implement the LCAP goals, sub-goals or actions. That is the district administration's job. I would expect that teachers and principals would be providing essential input into the LCAP definitions.
The role of the Board is to set goals for student achievement and hold district administration accountable for meeting those goals.
Q: One more question, which I plan to pose to all candidates: with the discussion of increasing inclusion of special needs students in general education classrooms (a la Thrive Conejo), do you support funding to help teachers successfully meet this objective (e.g. smaller class sizes and hiring more aides?)
Yes, I do support funding for a pilot program to test Universal Design for Learning.
Q: I'll ask my same as yesterday -- What are your views on the lack of accommodation for many who apply to elementary school before- and after-care programs and are turned away for lack of space? It's been cited before as a reason some leave CVUSD, and is a factor in declining enrollment. Do you feel the child care accommodation right now is adequate, and what are your thoughts on how to improve access for more working parents?
A. I know this is an extremely important issue for our families. I was lucky enough to get spots in childcare for my two kids. I'm glad I didn't have to figure something else out like other parents I know. I know that it is often space that limits the number of children that can be accepted at a particular site. Because childcare is a funded from a separate source, it has separate buildings on campuses. I will investigate ways to best make use of all the space on a campus.
Inadequate data keeping in past the has made it impossible to actually take a look at how much this problem is affecting enrollment at CVUSD. I have asked the district this exact question and they were not able to respond. As the district moves more to making data-driven decisions, I will suggest that they do an analysis on how much the lack of childcare drives families away.
Q: There's been quite a bit of emphasis lately on the negatives in our District (understandably, since there's work to be done). What are the positives that you see happening in our schools? What great programs are you proud of that you'd like to see continue or even expand?
A. Okay, I love the music programs in our district! They have been great motivators for my kids!
I won a photo shoot from a Thousand Oaks High School student in AP photography. She loves Mrs. Ravitch (sp?). She treats her students like adults.
Walnut is making great strides with closing the achievement gap. I was very impressed on my tour with Aileen Wall.
I took a tour of EARThS with Principal Jeff Rickert and was extremely impressed with how integrated science and inquiry were with all of the curriculum.
Our district has a very extensive selection of AP classes for students who want the challenge of college-level work.
We have some truly phenomenal teachers in our district.
I could go on and on about the great things in our district!
Q: Thank you for taking the time to answer questions! I'm a 5th grade teacher and am so lucky to be at an amazing, sought after school. I know that upper grade classrooms have a 36-1 ratio, but that our district hires at a 32-1 ratio. But that's district wide. I have had 34/35 kids for the past 8 years. This makes it difficult to differentiate for all of their varying, and important, needs. It's also disheartening when you hear that some 5th grade classrooms in our district have 25ish students. Imagine the impact this teacher can have on his/her students and the connections that can be made! A few years ago, in order to save money, our district upped the number of primary kids from 20 to up to 24. Studies show smaller classes make a huge difference in meeting the needs of students. Is this something that will be a focus of a school board you are a part of? Thanks again for your time!
Yes, I support smaller class sizes; however, it comes down to funding from the state. There has been talk of a bill in the state legislature to increase California's per student education funding to the midpoint among all 50 states by 2021. I support this legislation. As we vote in November 2018, we should be looking closely at our candidates for statewide office and their views on education funding. We cannot reduce class sizes in any meaningful way without increased funding from the state.
Q: I have followed you here on facebook, as well as twitter, and you do a remarkable job of mentioning various programs from different schools that you are proud of, and as a single mother I appreciate this as its one of the few ways I can get a sense of what cvusd schools offer so that I can make a more informed decision when my daughter is ready for school. However, I did read in your questionnaire that you felt the responsibility of retaining and attracting students should be more on the principals of the schools. My understanding is that principals and staff should keep low social media profiles and therefore as someone new to the community I'm not sure who teaches where or what schools have what programs, so do you believe as a board member that you will hold any responsibility in attracting new students? Will you yourself keep highlighting great programs like KA19-SMS and encourage other board members to do the same? I know with recent events, protocols may warrant less social media presence, but for working parents at times, it's all we have.
A. Yes, I believe that one of the main roles of the school board is to be cheerleaders for our district. I did not mean to shirk that responsibility at all.
The district is doing a much better job of marketing the district as a whole on the district's website.
And there are many principals and teachers who are on Twitter. That's where I first learn about many of the great programs our district has! In the next reply I'm going to cut and paste a bunch of our school and principal and teacher Twitter handles. They are really great ambassadors for our district!
@Mrs_Haver Sequoia Middle School Teacher
@NPProwler Official student newspaper of Newbury Park High
@mrs_kimgarcia Teacher in Newbury Park, California (7th Grade English & ASB)
@MrsGiaJantz Dean of Colina Middle School. Educator for life.
@loviedo2255 Inspiring 5th grade minds
@BanyanFifth Inquisitive, creative, tech-lovin' fourth and fifth graders
@cpeters_connie College & Career Guidance Specialist at Thousand Oaks High
@ewbergmann We must prepare kids for a world that does not yet exist.
@lora_novak WHS English Department Chair
@RayEducation Passionate about helping others understand science.
@WestlakeHS_CA Official Westlake High School Twitter Account
@MrsDVollmer Wildwood Elementary principal
@NewburyParkHS CVUSD comprehensive HS
@MrsLevy2ndGrade Second grade teacher
@MrsLWall Principal at Ladera Elementary
Hope that isn't excessive, but I love seeing what teachers are doing in their classrooms at what is happening at schools.
Q: Since you are continuing to answer questions (thank you), I’ll ask what I plan on asking everyone...
Is it appropriate for LGBT teachers, teacher’s aides, counselors, principals and coaches to be “out” to their students? If so, under what circumstances? Why or why not?
We don't expect any teachers to talk to their students about their sexuality. I think that many people confuse sexuality with sexual orientation. Just as much as a straight teacher might say something about how fun it was to go to the Jet Propulsion Lab with her husband, a lesbian teacher should be able to say the same thing, except substitute partner for husband.
There are so many reasons why I think this is important.
First, gay marriage is legal. Why would we expect anyone to hide their marriage? It harkens back to the days when female school teachers had to be unmarried.
Second, it allows children with same-sex parents to see that other people are in families that are like their families.
Third, we want all of our students to feel safe and accepted at school. Don't we want the same for our teachers?
CLOSING STATEMENTS BY MARY ANNE
If anyone has any other questions, you can personal message me at any time: Van Zuyle for School Board. Also, I think AM plans to keep this thread open until tomorrow at noon. If you post here, I will respond!
I hope you will visit my website at MaryAnneForCVUSD.com and consider volunteering or making a donation. You can fill out the volunteer form to receive updates even if you can't volunteer right now.
If you would like to come meet me in person, please PM me to receive an invitation to one of my upcoming meet and greets. My next few dates are:
Wednesday, April 18th in the afternoon
Saturday, April 21st, with Conejo: Thrive
Saturday, April 28th
Sunday, April 29th (tentative)