The recent comments of some prospective school board candidates should provoke a response in a number of serious-minded citizens across the valley.
Candidate John Sluder wonders “if we throw another billion dollars at our education system (is it) going to improve overnight?” His supporters and he claim “No!”
As a 14-year teacher in School District 51, I take that comment personally because the real answer is a most emphatic “Yes.” As a matter of fact, it has already happened right here in our own school district.
Clifton Elementary received a federal grant in the amount of some $866,000 a year, for three years, to improve educational results as a “turnaround school.” Those who find high-stakes testing to be the most valid measure of school success might be surprised to learn of as much as a 40 percentage point boost in reading test scores, 35 percentage point boost in writing test scores and a 54 percentage point boost in math test scores attributable to this funding, (considerably short of the billion Sluder suggests will fail).
Sluder also suggests spending the “bare minimum” to comply with unfunded federal mandates. With special education being a major “underfunded mandate,” is it Sluder’s contention that the education of students with special needs doesn’t deserve the equitable attention (money) set aside for the education of all other students?
Sluder’s comments betray a cynical point of view, playing to the fears of taxpayers while schools prove every day to be worthy of all the support they can muster. Virtually every school in this valley receives high marks from the parents of its students. Virtually every individual teacher, as well.
Sluder might want to rethink his approach to education and decide if he intends to serve both students and his constituents as a member of the school board. Will he use a critical eye or more platitudes to achieve his goals?