Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wayzata school board candidates: curriculum

Question 2. In apparent contradiction with state statutes (123B.09) the Wayzata School Board has delegated full authority for curriculum matters to the Superintendent. He, in turn, has delegated this authority to the curriculum and teaching staff. Curriculum issues presented to the school board (such as integrated math, state standards, International Baccalaureate, and Common Core curriculum) are directed to non-elected curriculum and building staff, without action or discussion by the board. Do you think this is appropriate? Why or why not?

Derek Diesen

The number one reason I became involved was because of curriculum. A few years ago my son was diagnosed with dyslexia and we really struggled to get him the help he needed. His teachers at Sunset Hill were amazing and worked hard with, and for Andy. The problem was the district didn’t have the systems in place to identify his issues soon enough and support his different style of learning. I feel like I have a responsibility to other families to share what we learned and help guide changes so other children and their families don’t go through what we did. I believe it is the duty of the school board to set the curriculum and evaluate its success.

Sarah Johansen

It is my understanding that a sub-committee of the board meets at least monthly with the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning (Dr. Jill Johnson) and most often, the Superintendent to discuss curricular issues and the full board receives this information at the work sessions. Each curricular area goes through an exhaustive 3 year process of evaluation, recommendation and implementation about every 6 years. All findings and recommendations are presented to and voted on by the board. I believe that it is the job of the school board to work in partnership with the administration to provide accountability and support for the education of our students. If elected I will work hard to learn as much as I can about the process and challenge our District to ensure that we continue to meet or exceed our requirements.

David Lloyd

I think the real issue is keeping the Board engaged in curriculum issues. This is important so we have the appropriate programs determined at a local level for the students to succeed long term. I'm not comfortable with this arrangement and would want the Board to be more involved in curriculum than you state is currently the case.

Chris McCullough

The School Board, as elected representatives of the District, very clearly should have a strong say in curriculum matters. Based on what I know, there appears to be a good partnership between the School Board and the District Administration pertaining to curriculum matters. To me, assuming that state law does not preclude it, this “partnership” seems like a balanced and sensible approach. The Board, even as a collective, may not have the same level of expertise that the professional educators and administrators in the School District have about curriculum matters. And as I noted above, the School Board, as elected representatives, very clearly should have a strong say in curriculum matters.

Bill Pritchard

I don’t believe the Board has delegated full authority for curriculum and/or personnel matters to the Superintendent, or should it. The seven Board Member mandate is to make and oversees the District’s budget, curriculum, personnel and physical facilities.

I believe that the operation of the District organization is much like a business and as a business, the Superintendent acts much likes its CEO, and is accountable to the Board.

Ted Victor

First, the District has hired a Superintendent and the Superintendent has hired educational professionals to create, develop and implement curriculum per the requirements of the state Department of Education. The Superintendent is responsible to make sure the curriculum is appropriate and meets the state guidelines and it is being correctly and consistently implemented. Any elementary or middle school student that switches district schools should be continuing with the same curriculum in the new school as the student had in his or her previous school.

Second, the Board needs to hold the Superintendent, and the appointed curriculum staff accountable for the consistency of the curriculum. That information should be reported to the Board on a regular basis. Items such as integrated math, state standards, International Baccalaureate, and Common Core curriculum need to be explained to the Board with a recommendation and supporting evidence allowing the Board to make the final decisions. The Board’s job is to acknowledge the recommendations of the experts; teachers and directors of curriculum. The final decision may or may not support the recommendation by the Superintendent.

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