Monday, May 11, 2009

Figuring out the individuals in the SCASD School Board Primaries

Originally Posted on the Common Threads Blog,
Centre Daily Times, May 1, 2009

Several days ago, one of the candidates running for the SCASD school board knocked at my door. He introduced himself, and asked me if I had already made up my mind. Since I had a lot of questions and it was a cold night, my husband and I asked him to come in.

He was gracious enough to spend a lot of time talking with us. We got some idea of why he was running, his general philosophy of education and what he favored instead of the current high school construction plan. He favored two schools, had an idea of where the second school could be located, but said he would be responsive to community input on all options. He also said he would use technology to offset the costs of building a second school.

One example he gave us - for advanced courses with smaller enrollments and “motivated” students, teachers could physically teach a course at one school, which would be telecast to the second school. However, he did not elaborate on how we would choose which school would have the teachers, and which the technology – or how this option would impact the learning of these “motivated” students.

When he mentioned that taxes would be going up 9 percent if the current board continued, I told him that I had understood it differently. That 9 percent was only the figure for the maximum amount that taxes could be raised to – not the amount that taxes were definitely going to be raised to. His clarification that this was indeed true, gave me confidence in my assessment of the situation.

As we said good night, we appreciated the face time with him, giving us a better idea of him as a potential school board member – and a better basis on how to vote. To some extent, the recent coverage about the Centre County League of Women Voters Candidates Night held on April 25, 2007, in the CDT, provided us this face time with other candidates too. I was happy to see that the candidates’ positions on issues other than the High School renovation were reported on. About 60 people attended the event, and many more saw it on TV.

For those of us who missed it, the event will be telecast again on Channel 7 (CGTV) on May 2 at 10 am, May 3 at 9 pm, May 5 at 1 pm, May 8 at 12 am and May 10 at 2 pm. Further, candidate interviews can be viewed on Channel 98 (CETV) on May 2 at 6 pm, May 3 at 6 pm and May 6 at 8 pm, May 10 at 4 pm and May 12 at 5:30 pm. For more information on these events in the following weeks, you could go to, and check the weekly schedule of CETV (Channel 98) and CGTV (Channel 7) or call 238-5031, if you wanted a copy of the programs.

We each need to use these opportunities to tune in to the individual candidates and go beyond the simplistic reduction of “Go” versus “Stop/Change,” which does not tell us the diversity of thought, experience and philosophical stances of the individual candidates, in the broader arena of our children’s education, funded by our tax dollars.

Understanding these philosophies is crucial since the board, once elected, may not be able to get our opinions on each and every issue they act on, on each and every program they consider adding or removing. Evaluating the individuals, rather than the groups, and figuring out who fits our individual philosophies may also help heal our divisions.

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