Friday, April 28, 2006

School Board Election

Waldo Jaquith wonders who we plan to vote for in Charlottesville's school board election. I'm still trying to make up my mind about my second vote, but I'm certain that my first will go to Ned Michie. He says, in today's Hook, that his priority issue is, “Closing the achievement gap for at-risk kids—but that doesn't mean we'll back off from what makes our schools excellent.

Yes. One thing that causes me to rant endlessly is lowered standards in public schools. I see evidence of this all the time. My eighth grader never studies, does all his homework on the bus, or during lunch, is taking the most advanced classes available at Buford, including 10th grade honors-level geometry, and gets all As and Bs. He's bored and rebellious and had decided that the only class that isn't a complete waste of his time is geometry. The geometry teacher at Buford rocks. I feel like middle school is just a holding pen. Last year, I was so upset that the final unit in his English class was to watch television commercials and read magazine ads, that I pulled him out of English altogether and taught that class to him at home, choosing a novel for him to read and having him write a thesis paper on it which he presented to the Buford principal for grading. The school gave him an A for that quarter, although I thought he deserved a C. I really appreciate that Tim Flynn was willing to work with me on that. I hope my son will be happier next year when he gets to CHS.

Anyway, you can't claim that all kids are successful if you've simply dumbed-down the curriculum so that it's practically impossible to fail. Kids know when classes are lame and they know when they're being treated with condescension. They're not going to be motivated if they know a class is a joke. Please keep providing classes that are truly challenging. I feel that Ned Michie won't fail C'ville's intellectually advanced students, but neither will he abandon those who struggle.

Also, early in Ned Michie's first term on the School Board I called him at home over an issue that had me greatly concerned, and he was gracious and helpful.

For my second vote, I'm vacillating between Charlie Kollmansperger, Sue Lewis, and Juandiego Wade. All I have to go on, at this point, is the Hook's profile of them. I like that Kollmansperger was a special ed teacher. I like it that Sue Lewis' pet peeve is “Using educational jargon when there are just a handful of people who understand it.” Agreed. It's not that I can't understand educational jargon, I just find it to be pompous, inflated, fatuousness. I like Juandiego Wade for mentoring a group of young men from fourth grade through high school, and for the fact that he attended International Night at Buford (it seems he does not have a child there, since he mentions that his daughter is of preschool age) and that he's aware of unfair negative publicity the schools get.

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