Saturday, December 27, 2014

APS unions begin School Board candidate interviews today

The Albuquerque Teachers Federation, Educational Assistants Association, and the Secretarial Clerical Association will conduct interviews today, of candidates for three seats on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education.

Filing for the School board; District 4
They created a questionnaire and asked candidates to complete theirs before their interviews.  Below, the essential elements of my own.

In essence, I will offer my unswerving dedication to creating for them and other stakeholders
a seat at the table where decisions are made.

1. Why are you running for the APS Board?

In order to create circumstances in which stake and interest holders can participate meaningfully in decision making that affects their interests.

Beyond that, I am running in order to establish clear, unequivocal and meaningful standards of conduct and competence for school board members, senior administrators, and all others in public service in the APS, and

I am running in the hope of restoring APS’ commitment to a dedicated effort to grow good character in young people.

2. List your three main qualifications.

1. My close attention to the workings of the APS for nearly sixty years; as a student, as a teacher, and as community member and activist.

2. My absolute intention to change the decision making dynamic in the Albuquerque Public Schools in favor of moving decision making authority and resources to the lowest level that is practical and prudent.

3. My long record of willingness to fight for the rights of stake and interest holders to participate in decision making that affects their interests.

5. What is your philosophy of public education? And how will it influence your work on the APS Board?

I believe every child should be able to step out of their front door and “walk” to a neighborhood school in which their individual needs will be met.

I intend to advocate for change in APS’ mission.

In stark contrast to cemetery seating and the relentless effort to standardize the individual performance of students on standardized tests, I will propose changing APS’ mission to;
creating of independent lifelong learners at the earliest opportunity,
and during their creation,

Providing to them, some deliberate attention to development of their good character.

6. What would be your top three priorities as a member of the Board of Education?

1. Create a venue where interest and stakeholders participate meaningfully in decision making that affects their interests.

In brief; a professionally facilitated open and honest public discussion of important issues; from which participants will gather a shared understanding at least of agreed upon facts and concerns, and agreement upon that which we do not agree upon.

And, to then base decision making on that consensus or determination.

Decision making will be made as transparent as the law will allow.

2. I intend to have established;

• clear, unequivocal and meaningful standards of conduct and competence for public servants within their public service in the APS, and further establish;
• actual and honest accountability, under systems which offer due process for all complaints and are powerful enough to hold even the most powerful accountable.

7. What do you consider to be significant issues and challenges facing our school district?

1. The lack of ethics and standards and accountability high enough and inescapable enough to protect the public interests in the public schools.

2. The lack of a venue for stake and interest holders to participate meaningfully in decision making that affects their interests.
I find it incredible that teachers who between them have nearly 100,000 years of teaching experience, have no seat at the table where decisions are made.

3. Cemetery seating; the relentless effort to standardize the individual performance of students by imposing upon them strategies designed to move groups of students in unison.

Somehow, we need to free students from the constraints thought choirs thinking and learning in unison, and from standardized everything.

Even if you could standardize individual performance, why would we want to?

The sum of human knowledge is a few key strokes away. We have children who are by their nature, anxious to explore and learn. And still, we insist they learn in unison. It’s like having a race and every time the start finish line is crossed, everybody has to get in formation again.

8. As a member of the Board of Education you will be responsible for selecting the next superintendent of APS. What kind of leader do you personally think would be best for the district?

I don’t think we need someone who we believe knows more than all of the rest of us together, about anything.

I think we need someone who can draw upon the abundance of knowledge and experience that already exists in the community. We don’t need an expert anything – we need someone who can and will gather experts, and then listen to what they have to say.

There is no magic; there is no magician we can hire. If there really were people who know more than everybody else together, who have better solutions than everybody else together, we would have heard of them. They would be famous.

APS’ greatest resource is the accumulation of education, training and experience in the people who work every day with students at the educational interface; where the system and students meet.

APS’ greatest failure, is the failure to recognize and fully exploit the resources we have right in front of us.

9. APS employees are interested in having a voice in the selection of the next superintendent. Do you agree? If yes, how might you ensure that their voice is heard?

Depends on what you mean by a “voice”. The board casts the only “votes”, by law. Beyond that, I cannot imagine any other necessary restraint on input.

Stake and interest holders have a right to participate meaningfully in the selection of their superintendent. What that participation looks like is up to stake and interest holders to articulate.

At the very least I would hope for public forums where legitimate questions will see candid, forthright and honest responses.

Someone else first said;
The most important decision any group can make is when they decide how they will decide. It should also be their first.
I think it is possible, technically and practically, to involve as many people as want, and to enable them to leave the process feeling that they had participated meaningfully.

I think with competent facilitation, such meetings can be productive and efficient.

10. In the event legislation is passed that is detrimental to public education, will you work with us in mitigating any negative effects on the students and employees of APS? Please explain and give examples

Of course I will.

As an example, I think our mitigation of the harmful effects needs to go beyond simple protest. I would vote (in the absence of an overriding argument) in favor of diverting some of the millions of dollars APS spends on litigation every year, to litigating against governmental regulations and expectations that we, as a community, reject as unworkable.

If individual instruction and attention is our goal, and we find ourselves in diametric opposition to those who seek to standardize the individual performance of students, we need to compel them to defend their insistence.

11. Describe your views on collective bargaining for APS employees. What experience, if any, have you had with collective bargaining?

I think the alternative; negotiating thousands upon thousands of individual contracts is self-evidently unworkable.

As one of the former union vice president for middle schools, I participated personally in collective bargaining with the district.

12. The right for APS employees to collectively bargain is in APS Board Policy. Will you work to ensure that your collective bargaining relationship is maintained even if the state passes Right To Work Legislation?

I will respectfully withhold my commitment beyond my previous observation, until I feel that I have heard and understood the issues in their entirety.

The foremost obligation of school board members, regardless of whatever else they might say, is to make decisions in the best interests of students. It is the first ethic in the school boards own code of ethics and is overriding over any other interests.

13. Will you support a process in which the employees through their unions, are included in the deliberations on budget development and, if necessary, potential cuts to the budget? Please explain your answer.

If you are asking if the process should include only the input of “employees through their unions”, then no.

The deliberations on budget development should take place in public meetings. There should be at those meetings, opportunities for meaningful participation by all stakeholders, not just union members through their unions.

14. Do you understand the role that the Educational Assistants have in a classroom? Will you support a 3-Tiered Pay System for Educational Assistants that values and respects the work that they do?

I absolutely understand the role and the value of Educational Assistants in classrooms and on campuses.

I will support any system that compensates them fairly. I cannot endorse one over any others of which I am so far, unaware.

15. The Albuquerque Secretarial and Clerical Association (ASCA) is interested in creating a Career Ladder Program for Secretaries, Clerks and Bookkeepers on the “B” Salary Schedule. This concept would provide options for career growth and development with commensurate pay for increased training and education. Do you support this concept? How would you work to implement it?

I support career ladders, and in particular those relying on growth and development. Any decision I would make about the implementation of any plan would have to follow my participation in some discussion between stake and interest holders about how they might want to see any plan implemented.

16. Do you think teachers, through their unions, should be equal partners with administration in the design and implementation of education reforms? Explain your answer.

If you are asking if teachers should be partners in decision making that affects their interests only “through their unions”, then no. All interest and stakeholders are equal partners in the design and implementation of educational reforms.

Denying teachers, union members or no, real input in the decision making process is as inexcusable as it is inexplicable.

17. Do you support the development and continuation of charter schools? Explain.

To the extent that charter schools meet the individual needs of students, I think every school should be a charter school. It is only the ongoing failure of conventional schools to address students as individuals, that makes charter schools necessary.

18. Please list community or business organizations to which you belong to or that are supporting your candidacy?

None yet

19. The Preamble to the APS/ATF Negotiated Agreement is printed on the following two pages. Do you agree and, if so, how will you work toward that end?

I think my goals;

1. open and honest two-way communication between the leadership of the APS and the community members they serve, including and especially including teachers and support staffs, and

2. Honest accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence for all employees within their public service by means of due process,

are entirely consistent with the preamble to the Negotiated Agreement.

photo Mark Bralley

1 comment:

JD Robertson said...