Here is S.D. city school board Candidate Mark Powell’s inspiring program for achievable reform, which he shared with SD Rostra.
Since, I am basing my campaign on “No Hollow Promises, just Common-Sense Results!” I needed to make sure my first year goals as a board member would not over promise and under deliver. I have set realistic goals and strive to over deliver. My first year goals are all designed to address student learning and to keep schools safe.
1. Ineffective Teachers: Negotiate with the teachers union to implement a uniform teacher evaluation system. (I have several working teacher evaluations models that are being used in other districts throughout the country. These models have been hashed out between the unions and the districts already and could easily be implanted in SDUSD)
2. Budget Concerns: Responsibly negotiate teacher contracts and eliminate non-essential positions or programs. (Review all existing contracts to make sure they are competitive with the open market)
3. Class Size: Hire back as many teachers as possible and create part-time and full-time teacher assistant positions. (It appears that class sizes will increase, because the current board did not have the foresight to predict that the state is bankrupt. There were absolutely no economic indicators that the state was going to receive a ton of money over the last 4 years.
In fact, all economic indications, such as unemployment rate, gas prices, real estate, etc. indicated that the state was going to lose millions in funding, yet the incumbent still promised the teachers a 7.2% raise – unbelievable. Teachers will need help. The most cost effective way to bring down the Teacher/ Student ratio is to hire teacher assistants from local teacher credentialing programs. I had a TA when I was a teacher and although she was only paid a fraction of what a teacher was paid, her value was worth her weight in gold)
4. Vocational Training For Students: Create a partnership with local businesses and implement a comprehensive internship program. (I will be instrumental in creating a business/city government/ school partnership.
Since I am a business owner and former school administrator/ teacher/dean of students and I can speak from a knowledge based position with other business owners. Local businesses know what they are looking for in an employee and it is the duty of the school to prepare students academically for future jobs)
5. Bullying/School Violence: Acts of bullying or school violence must be addressed by the schools administration as a to priority. Acts of bullying or school violence at the secondary level will also be addressed by school police. (School policies regarding discipline/violence on campus, will need to be reviewed and students who bully other students on or off campus at the middle and high school level will be dealt with by the school police and the Juvenile Court System. Parents of elementary students who bully will be held accountable for their children’s behavior as well as the student. Dress codes will be reviewed and enforced uniformly throughout the district)
6. Excessive Testing / Report Cards: Stop “teaching to the test” and implement a report card system that parents, teachers and students understand. (By implementing a uniformed teacher evaluation system, test scores will not be the sole criteria for teacher evaluations and will free teachers to teachâ€¦..not just to the test. Report cards will reflect a student’s academic achievement, positive or negative, in a way that is clearly understood by parents)
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Parents who understand what goes on at Normal St. know that we need Mark to lead the charge to change “business as usual”. No more budgeting using hope as a strategy, no more decisions based on faulty information and no more pandering to any special interest that is not a child.
He can’t do it alone though, he needs all of us to pitch in!
The San Diego Unified School Board appears to be proceeding with an intent to liquefy district-owned properties and land in an attempt to balance their budget, hire back teachers and fund teacher salary increases. Although this idea may seemingly be a relatively quick and simple solution to financial hardships, I am concerned that there may be overlooked downsides (especially long-term) to this proposal and potential alternatives that haven’t been fully examined. Real estate is a hugely important part of the district’s assets and if district lands are sold the revenue should be used for capital improvements, not one time salary increases that will not be sustainable in the future. This is analogous to selling your hot water heater to pay your gas/electricity bill. Once again this board has not thought their decisions through misguided leadership and a general lack of business/real estate knowledge. If properties need to be sold there are other options. John Evans stated that the board has gotten rid of so many administrators the hallways at the district office are virtually empty, so why not sell the district office instead of schools? Selling schools affects the property values of everyone in the neighborhood independently of whether they have school-aged children or not. When a neighborhood school closes it impacts parents who have no other option than to drive their children to the next closest school or rely on alternative transportation. This board needs to hold off on their decision to sell off schools until parents, teachers, community members, business leaders local government officials are given proper notice and given the forum to voice their opinions and concerns. – Mark Powell
Mark Powell, November run-off election candidate for school board, speaks out on the predicament the San Diego Unified School District is in and on concessions teachers are asked to make.
While Mark Powell is running on a platform to (1) repair the district budget, (2) restore parent, teacher and community confidence in the education of our children, and (3) promote teacher effectiveness, he is starting his run-off campaign with a focus on the predicament the district is in and on the concessions teachers are being asked to make.
Mr. Powell makes a valid case that while all economic indicators pointed to a drastic reduction in state and district revenues, the board of trustees, led by John Evans, voted for a 7.2% pay raise for teachers. Now, John Evans has the audacity to say that it is unconscionable for the teachers to accept the pay raises for which they negotiated for in good faith. Was John Evans in denial during the negotiations, and in bringing the district to near insolvency? Now that he is running for a second term, John Evans is suggesting that some people are in denial of the circumstances and that all parties take a calm, rational approach to resolve the budget challenges. John Evans is sounding like he will single-handedly rescue the district, pretending he had nothing to do with the very terrible predicament in which he put it. John Evans’ poor decisions are going to result in increasing class size; widening the current achievement gap; raising student to teacher ratios, making the work environment for remaining teachers more difficult; and most importantly, making the learning environment for our children more challenging.
Now that the district must be pulled out of its near collapse, the teachers will also have to suffer the brunt of poor decision-making to help keep the district afloat. As awful as it is, they will have to give up their pay raises, and they will have to take furlough days. But, they must be acknowledged and compensated for their contributions. Mark Powell suggests that teachers forego the raises, but under an arrangement where the raises would be deferred to a future fiscal year when sufficient funds are available or applied gradually to enhance retirement while reducing the current impact on education. Mr. Powell also suggests that all administrators take a cut in pay equal to the pay raises teachers are asked to forego, and that they participate equally in all furloughs.