Candidates' names are listed as they appear on the ballot. Questions
Candidates for the At-Large Board of Education post were asked:
1. What would you do to prevent teacher strikes in the future?
2. What should be done to raise the level of achievement of Washington public school students as measured by standardized tests?
3. What would your priorities as a member of the school board be?
Hilton Cobb, 43, of 2801 15th St. NW, is a former teacher in the D.C. public schools and works for the Veterans Administration.
1.As a board member, I would support thoughtful, reasonable and sensible contract proposals to the union, always with the knowledge that board, superintendent and union are in the business of serving the school system and not themselves. I would also be willing to go to fact-finding and/or arbitration to settle disputes, leaving in force whatever contract we would be under.
2. Restoration of calm, discipline and order in the schools. This could be done on a school-by-school basis with the principal, teachers and parents taking the lead and being backed up by the board and superintendent. We should make this our number one priority. Whatever must be done, should be done.
Ungrade some of our English and math classes to concentrate on the learning of certain skills.That way, regardless of grade level, students could remain in these classes until these skills are learned. There would be perhaps two or three levels of these classes with succeeding degrees of difficulty.
A school system should prepare the student to either go on to higher learning or go to work. And in this vein, for those who want it, we should begin vocational training after the seventh grade, thereby giving the student time to become proficient. Employers want people who can perform and we should see to it that our students measure up. We should also expand the vocational education program to make sure it reflects the jobs of the future. Along this line, we could hire retired master workers from the trades and crafts to teach our students. These would work under the supervision of a certified teacher.
3. Restoration of discipline in the classroom, providing a new atmosphere which gives teachers new faith and students new expectation. Books, supplies and materials for all, but especially where they are now in short supply. Working full-time for the Board of Education, which means giving up my present job as soon as the compensation for board members is in place. Spending the public money where it will contribute directly to providing good basic education and spending it as if it were our own. It is.
David L. Wellington, 33, of 2625 Bowen Rd. SE, is the branch chief of Neighborhood Development Center No. 3 of the United Planning Organization.
1. Most teachers feel that teacher strikes are born of frustration. Frustration with the school board that establishes and monitors the implementation of policy; frustration with students who, for a host of reasons, fail to fulfill their promise and potential; frustration with parents who do not actively engage in supplementing and encouraging the education of their own children; and finally frustration with school administrators who frequently subvert rather than support the goals of classroom instruction. Even if this is not a completely accurate portrait of our present crisis, nevertheless, it is clear that our system is a system that lacks unity-unity of vision as well as unity of performance. As a member of the school board I intend to propose mechanisms that will encourage greater communication between all those involved in the delivery of public education. Without communication there can be no unity, and without unity our system is doomed to failure.
2. There should be greater concentration on the mastery of the fundamentals of learning. The system's competency-based curriculum is a step in that direction. Nevertheless, the system cannot be expected to accomplish this alone. The schools are an integral part of the community and their efforts must be encouraged and supported by the community. As a member of the board I will propose a teacher-student incentive reward program that hopefully will generate a greater commitment to the achievement of academic excellence.
3. To substitute the bitter adversary relationship that presently exists between the teachers' union and the school board for one of mutual respect and support. To encourage greater community involvement, especially the business community in school affairs. To make the education process competitive with what occurs in local private schools so that we can attract sutdents from middle-class households that have abandoned the city's public schools.
Dick Brown, 49, of 641 A St. SE, is the public relations director of the D.C. Mental Health Association.
1. I would view the union as a partner rather than adversary, and would accept the idea that the union-management conttract is not to be abrogated or nullified while negotiations are in process. That is, I believe a contract should have specified dates for renegotiation, but not termination dates, since it is unreasonable to expect teachers to work without a contract. Management must remember that they represent a public service, not private ownership. We must go beyond modeling our ideas of labor relations on those developed in the private sector.
The board should be glad that the teachers are organized, rather than resentful of shared responsibility for education.
2. First, we need to meet all our own standards of adequate equipment, books, pupil-teacher ratio, physical plant, etc. But beyond that, the overwhelming problem is to enlist the support of parents-and of youthful dropouts who serve as poor role models-for the idea that quality education is everybody's concern. There must also be order in our schools, but this must be achieved through the pupils and their parents, not by police methods.
3. Get rid of the idea that anyone elected us to determine teaching methods, try to run the schools on a day-to-day basis or harass the superintendent. We represent the community in an overseer capacity, not as management.
Get out into the community and, at first, into the senior high schools, to organize parents and students to believe in and support the school system.
Enlarge the schools' programs for full education of the handicapped.
Make sure that all vocational education is meaningful in today's job market; teach all students at least minimum job skills, but make certain no one is shunted into lower-level career training because of economic background.
Give strong support to the arts and to well-rounded physical education programs.
Rohulamin (Ro) Quander, 35, of 1703 Lawrence St. NE, is an attorney and formerly was a teacher in the D.C. public schools. He is a member of the board of directors of the Washington, D.C., Parent and Child Center and is editor of the Howard University alumni newsletter.
1. To prevent teacher's strikes in the future, it is necessary to first create and maintain an environment that is conducive to learning, including safety in schools, discipline in the classrooms, adequate teaching materials and overall accountability among teachers, principals, administrators, parents and students.
Teachers have a right to strike when a situation warrants, but if more time is spent in meeting the terms of any work contract, including administrative support and adequate teaching and learning materials, teachers will be less frustrated and inclined to strike and more concerned with educating our children properly. For example, if a certain number of textbooks are to be provided or if teachers are given certain guidelines for the implementing of discipline, it is up to the superintendent's office and the board to see that they provide the necessary support to the teachers. All parties concerned will realize that an effort is being made to create and maintain the proper atmosphere for learning. Teachers will be less inclined to strike, because of an attitude and spirit of cooperation throughout the system.
Our children suffered greatly during the strike. So did many teachers who shared some guilty feelings owed to being out of the classrooms while we are so far below national standards. The breakdown was really a failure to keep open the channels of communication between teachers and the board, which must be kept open to prevent strikes in the future.
2. First, there should be a full deployment of competency-based programs to develop a sound educational base in reading, writing and mathematics. These have to first be mastered before students can build a foundation in the arts, sciences, foreign languages, etc. But with the institution of the competency-based cirriculum, we must be careful not to stifle very competent teachers' individual approaches to the subjects. Since the new curriculum requires much paperwork and is not yet a fully proven program, it is difficult to measure total improvement in those schools where it is in place. Second, a greater development of the vocational, technical and scientific programs is needed to serve students not interested in college. As we enter the 1980s, a college degree may not suit everyone's needs. These students will either be already prepared for jobs in these areas or can pursue further training. By providing alternatives in education, there will be wider interest in preparation. In a vocational area, we can employ retired journeymen and people who are specialists in their fields. Third, a better use of existing fiscal resources is needed to get a better return on our public school investment. Also, the board City Council and mayor must work jointly to identify new monies to use for our schools. While the budget allotment for the D.C. public schools is approximately $222 million, approximately 17 percent of the city's budget, we need to use these funds wisely. Fourth, institute a preemployment examination for new teachers to help assure that they bring with them a certain level of academic preparation. In just about every profession, you have to pass a qualifying examination. We entrust our children to teachers whose academic preparation we do not know personally, but if those teachers had passed some type of examination as an indication of the mastery of a certain level of academic preparation, then parents will feel more comfortable about the D.C. public schools. The national teacher's examination may not be the answer, as I agree with much of the critism raised against it. However, as the District of Columbia Bar Association conducts its own bar exam, with all of the competence and facilities that we have in the D.C. public schools, a local examination could be devised and administered to our prospective teachers as part of the condition precedent to their employment. It is not designed to discriminate against anybody, but to assure a consistency in hiring. Our teachers have a right to employment, once employed, but we are not talking about instituting an exam that would have the effect of displacing any existing teachers.
3. First, a better system of communication between all parties. In the recent strike, the breakdown in communication noted the opposing parties sometimes simply refused to talk to each other. How can you negotiate a settlement or even institute a new program if the parties will not communicate and respect one another's position? In such an atmosphere it is very difficult to do anything beneficial to the total education program. Second, expand programs intended to ensure the finest education in the basic learning skills with emphasis upon reading, writing and mathematical proficiency. It also requires an equal exposure to courses and activities designed to enrich the child's total learning experience, including a reinstitution of foreign languages, especially Spanish, and a greater appreciation of the arts, fostered through the Duke Ellington School. Third, we need to carefully evaluate the utilization and appropriteness of existing program fiscal resources. While we have closed schools in the last year and a half, justified on a number of bases, including declining enrollment, the schools' purpose is to serve the child. It would seem that those schools should be kept open, to assure a teacher-pupil ratio of 20 to 1 or less.
Since it is a question of funds, we need to work very hard to identify more available funds to maintain our facilities at their former level, thereby reducing the teacher-student ratio and presumably raising the quality of education.
Joseph Webb, 29, of 5 Danbury St, SW, is an administrator with the D.C. public schools. He also has been a teacher, school counselor and community worker.
1. Board members themselves should negotiate contracts with all employes' unions. They are the citizens' elected representatives, and they must be accountable for the stands they take on every issue. Board members must stop hiding behind paid negotiators. Then, all bargaining must be done in good faith. If the board shows respect, honestly and trust, the unions will reciprocate in like fashion. The strike is the union's only weapon, and it will not be used unless management forces the union's hand, as was done during the recent teachers' strike. There will be no more strikes when all parties realize the child is the center of the universe.
2. Although I have many concerns about the validity of standardized tests, I know we live in a test-oriented society; therefore, our children must be equipped with the proper tools so they can perform effectively within it. My vast experiences in psychometrics have shown me that our students (on all levels) simply do not know how to take tests. They need to learn test-taking techniques such as following directions, budgeting testing time, linking the answer sheet with the test booklet, etc. These technical aspects which have nothing to do with the students' knowledge would substantially raise their test scores. If we are to ever help our children truly learn, we must dispose of education by indoctrination and regurgitation and adopt an educational program that teaches students to use the principles of logic, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Then, we will have taught them not what to learn, but how to learn. Then, our children will be able to reach their full potential and become all that they can be.
3. Discipline-Discipline is derived from the work 'disciple', which means 'a willing follower.' Herein lies the key to upgrading our students' conduct. We must guide them on the right path and do it in a way that allows children to know 'why'. We must not seek blind obedience, but willing compliance. And we, ourselves, must be the examples, the role models of the behaviors we want our children to exemplify. School personnel ought to become more involved in the community, and parents need to spend more time in the schools. My vast educational experiences as a teacher, counselor, community worker and school administrator have shown me a very simple truth: Respect begets respect.
Social Services-I seek this at-large position that would make me a representative of the entire; however, my strongest sentiments lie with Anacostia and the other 'deprived' areas of the nation's capital. I do not advocate taking anything away from the schools in affluent communities, but surely we must realize that it is the sickest patient who needs a doctor most. How can we teach a child's mind when his belly is hungry and his body is half naked? With these children, 'The further they go, the behinder they get.' More money must be channeled into social service programs so that children in impoverished areas can have an equal chance to grow.
Upward Mobility-We must institute and develop upward mobility programs so that competent and dedicated employes can move up through the ranks and acquire jobs with higher levels of responsibility and income that are in keeping with their talents and skills. Then, employment with the D.C. Public Schools would cease to merely be a job and could become a career.
Morale Building-Low morale is rampant throughout the system. Frustrations are high, and spirits are low. The teachers' strike was the eruption of along-smoldering volcano that I hope to permanently extinghuish. How long can a house stand when it is divided against itself? I say, 'Not long.' Likewise, how long can our already crippled school system exist when management and labor and school and community view one another as the enemy? Yet, a few days and the halls of learning may come crashing down upon our heads like a house of cards in a strong wind. We must rebuild our school system upon a firm foundation of honesty, compassion, respect and understanding. Morale will rise by leaps and bounds.Then, all shall see the undisputable truth of my theme: Common Unity-the Spirit of Community.
Sam Carson, 35, of 226 Oneida St. NE, is a life insurance representative and a doctoral candidate in anthropology. He has been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.
1. Informal negotiations among board members and between the board and the union should commence well before a contract deadline is reached. Unless the school board is aware of its own goals and the goals of the union and the concessions each is willing to make, strikes or threats of strikes will always be the outcome. I would work with all board members and union officials before the contract deadline to determine needs and goals. Having negotiated with union officials in the past, I know that trained negotiators are an absolute necessity, and the final decision-makers must confront each other during contract deliberations. I would propose that the school system hire a permanent team of negotiators. This team would bear primary responsibility for contract talks, and between contracts it would oversee union activities and grievances on behalf of the school board. Additionally, the school board should participate in contract deliberations, whether by committee or as a whole.Although the substance of the negotiations should be left to the trained negotiators, the board would be well served by having first-hand contact with union officials.
2. The most supportive institution in the life of any child is his own family, and although the board has no direct and very little indirect control over family life, there are many groups and organizations that can be recruited to the cause of quality of eduction. It's important that we stop viewing education as occuring from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from kindergarten through 12th grade. Since both aptitude and achievement are connected with the in-school and out-of-school environment of a child, we need to begin giving equal emphasis to family-created learning problems. Standardized tests, in both the achievement and aptitude mode, should be given to every child in the system and explained as fully as possible to each parent so that remedial actions can be taken early on in the learning process. Giving standardized tests on a sporadic basis or only to a representative sample of students misses the points that: test-taking is a skill in itself, provides diagnostic data for teachers and parents, can be improved upon through frequency of use and minimal instruction, and are widely used in the world of work, whether our children are ready to take them or not.
3. A major priority would be to help in the full implementation of the competency-based curriculum, since I believe that a uniform method of teaching (which should not be confused with a uniformity of teaching style) is essential to public education in D.C. My second priority, in two parts, would be to: Provide rigorous pre-employment examinations for all teaching applicants. Each applicant should be thoroughly examined on their ability to properly use the English language and their understanding of the subject they would be contracted to teach, and in concert with the union, the school board would establish a process for evaluating the present teaching staff. Provisions should be made for upgrading teacher performance where applicable and providing support services when teacher performance is not questioned. The Teacher Appraisal Program, although not fully accepted and functional to date, should be re-examined for use in the evaluative process.
Eugene Kinlow, 38, of 4124 2nd St. SW, is a deputy director at the U.S. department of Health, Education and Welfare. He was chairman of the Anacostia Community School Board and co-chairman of the mayor's Transition Task Force on Public Education.
1. First, we must buy some time-a cooling-off period for all concerned. The existing contract should be extended to 1980. In 1980, the new Personnel Act will permit pay to be discussed at the bargaining table along with teacher hours and working conditions. Thus, a more conducive environment should exist. In the interim, the board should: hold community hearings to develop a community consensus on issues to be negotiated; hold informal discussions with union leaders, the mayor and City Council; designate a capable board member to participate directly in negotiations or as an observer-consultant; indicate clearly that it will not tolerate or engage in union busting activities. Upon entering negotiations, both sides should agree that improving student achievement is the centerpiece for contract negotiations.
2. The board, in concert with the community and administration, should establish short and long-range goals for improving student achievement. Goals should relate to elementary, secondary and special education. An overall long-range goal might be the achievement of national norms in five years or so. Continue in-service teacher training. Provide all textbooks and supplies needed by students and teachers. The broad use of standardized tests-norm-referenced and criterion-referenced- for purpose of accountability and diagnosis. Establish citywide performance standards for student promotions (similar to the procedure initiated recently in Anacostia). The policy would eliminate social promotions and tie promotions directly to student mastery of specified skills. Develop a policy requiring a structured extended day program for students who need extra help to accelerate their academic growth. Provide extra pay to a cadre of superior teachers who volunteer to teach an extended day. Tie a part of the pay of teachers and school instructional leaders to students' academic growth, with no penalty for 'late blooming' students. Reinstitute a policy of pre-employment testing and certification for teachers.
3. Community Outreach-Develop and fund a program which motivates parents and community people to become effective volunteers, participants and helpers. The program should provide same-day notice to parents of student absenteeism, involve parents in the disciplining of their own children and in school organizations which help shape school policy and review student performance. Accountability-We must know why our children fail or excel. Therefore, we must measure the contributions of all members of the educational community. Students with elementary level skills must not be promoted to junior high. Teachers who allow competent students to fall behind and administrators who retain incompetent teachers will be quickly identified. Administrators and board members who can't deliver on classroom supplies can't be tolerated. A mayor and City Council that will not provide an adequate school budget cannot be permitted. Labor Management Relations-We must develop an approach that makes educational excellence the centerpiece for both management and labor during negotiations.Career Development-Too many students graduate without knowing what their career and education choices are in relationship to their own abilities and skills. Many students need a program which intelligently combined academic and career development. For example, we teach students typing but not much spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar. We don't even use modern office machines in many cases. The result is that employers in this are find it difficult to hire good secretaries. Handicapped Students-They get only three to four hours of daily instruction due to extensive travel time and/or ineffective travel arrangements. We must ensure that all students who need special education get a full program, including vocational skills, and their teachers are given adequate training. We must comply with the law which requires appropriate facilities and we must get this city's share of federal dollars for special education. Dropouts-We should develop programs which motivate students to learn, including teaching teachers motivational techniques and providing additional programs of alternative education for teen-agers who have special needs or talents. Health-We must prevail upon the mayor and the City Council to provide school health resources. Attitude-We must provide the kind of staff training which causes staff to see educating children in this city as a challenge rather than a chore.
Vincent S. Jones, 32, of 1619 Evarts St. NE, is a human relations consultant and has been a member of the D.C. Board of Higher Education.
1. To prevent future strikes, I would: Have both parties, the board and the union, meet on an ongoing basis to assess and improve the relationship between them and to discuss well in advance of the expiration date of an existing contract any differences which could threaten the approval of a new contract by both parties; urge both parties to agree to adhere to standard and other means of mediation and conciliation; urge both parties to agree to adhere to recommendations resulting from fact-finding proceedings; encourage both parties to carefully examine the merits of compulsory arbitration and adopt those measures which prove mutually beneficial; urge both parties to agree to refrain from any action or to refrain from causing any action which would jeopardize the delivery of teaching services to the children of the District of Columbia; urge management to be ever-mindful of the value of support, encouragement and adequate training to improve attitudes and motivate employes to work above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the task of educating our children is performed with the highest standards.
2. To raise the level of achievement of Washington public school students as measured by standardized tests, I would strongly recommend that biweekly standardized tests practice sessions be established systemwide for students to be administered standardized mini-tests with time constraints and similar standardized test questions, to build students' confidence in participating in the procedure and familiarizing them with test content; teachers use the results of the practice tests to evaluate the specific academic needs of students and develop instructional methods to upgrade performance levels on standardized tests; the school system adopt the practice of regularly administering norm-referenced (standardized) and criterion-referenced tests to determine the extent to which it provides students with a quality education.
3. As a member of the school board my priorities would be: Encouraging the members of the board to upgrade their leadership skills by participating in human relations development workshops on an ongoing basis to improve group cohesion and teamwork, to further clarify their roles and responsibilities, to learn management by objectives skills and to improve the overall work environment which will filter throughout the system; to further examine, through research, the theories on which the systemwide competency-based curriculum is founded and to determine the significance of teacher-student ratios in the classroom to the successful implementation of CBC (low teacher-student ratios provide opportunities for teachers to implement individualized program instruction as prescribed by CBC guide, give students an increased sense of identity, increase opportunities for students to develop speech and interpersonal relations skills, reduce incidents of discipline problems and increase opportunities for students to academically excel); to have the board examine policies and procedures to direct parents and teachers to communicate with one another on a monthly basis (by phone, home and school visits and/or PTA participation) to keep parents abreast of students' academic and social performance and for parents to provide at-home assistance in the areas of students' need; to have the board approve the expansion and development of programs for the academically talented and gifted student and to identify funds in special education monies or other source to support the effort; to have the board approve the expansion of career development programs in order that students can realize the relationship between classroom performance and the world of work; to have the board examine means of upgrading teacher skills and to evaluate and improve the practices for hiring teachers and administrators based on demonstrated, measurable performance; to have the board and its representatives enforce and adhere to all measures which deal with systemwide accountability, contracts with unions and other orderly procedures which have been established by the board; to have the board maximize the use of community resource people, i.e., retired and senior citizens, parents and community leaders, to assist teachers in providing instruction, guidance and support to the students of the District.
John H. Wallace, 52, of 2939 Van Ness St. NW, is a consultant in higher education. He has served on local government groups in Wilmettee, Ill.
1. I have been a member of teachers' unions in other parts of the country. I have aided in negotiating contracts. We never had to strike because the board, superintendent and residents of the community made a serious effort to anticipate and minimize any conflict which would interrupt the serious business of educating their children. If the board and superintendent work together to communicate with teachers, the union leadership and community leaders, I feel we can stay ahead of the union and meet the needs of students and teachers without confrontation. I personally plan to communicate with my colleagues on the board, the superintendent, community organizations and union leadership on a regular basis so as to mitigate and hopefully avoid the chance of strikes.
2. Additional scientific research must be conducted to determine explicitly the influence of lead poisoning on the achievement and health of our children. If lead is proved to be one of the culprits we ought to ban the use of it. To raise the achievement level of students, it may be necessary to raise the standards for teachers and administrators, while at the same time establishhing guidelines to involve parents to a greater degree. We also may want to look at alternative ways of selecting competent, qualified board members. Maybe we should consider an entry literacy examination for all new teachers. Making certain the students and teachers have the tool they need to aid them in meeting their education objectives would help. I am inclined to believe the competency-based curriculum may mitigate the standardized test dilemma. Let's give it a chance.
3. I would involve the research facilities and personnel of the board more adequately in solving many problems brought before the board. I would attempt to reduce violence has a direct affect on academic achievement in a particular school. Teachers nor students can concentrate very long if they are continuously intimidated by students bent on not learning anything and determined not to let others learn. The destructive student should be given special help. This help may come in the form of putting him/her in a different classroom milieu. The beating and taking of students' lunch money and the beating and harassment of teachers must stop. I am in favor of giving students more options in programming. I am a firm believer in the classical education tradition, but all of our students are not going to college. We ought to offer more technical and vocational programs, so those who want to can join the labor force upon graduation.
Charlotte R. Holmes, 52, 1321 E St. NE, is a budget analyst for the Small Business Administration. She has been chairwoman of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and a member of the Women's Political Caucus.
1. We must attempt to improve basic relationships between the teachers, the union and the school board in order to try and maintain a viable environment between management, school board and union. Therefore, it is imperative to establish a working line of communication. The most advantageous time for all negotiations is during the summer months. If we can communicate during the year and arrive at these viable negotiations during the summer, we can eliminate the possible chance of a strike and hopefully we will not infringe upon the necessary time needed by the children for their studies.
2. We must emphasize the basic fundamentals-reading, writing and mathematics. As a part of this, we must emphasize smaller class size with greater one-on-one participation between the student and their teachers. We must especially emphasize increased learning skills toward reading. With additional reading skills, the level of achievement will undoubtedly rise, but more importantly it will aid to more effectively prepare our students for the outside world.
3. The responsibility for developing the children cannot be solely that of the teacher. The school board must act in a responsible manner in attempting to bring the parents/guardians into a partnership with the school system for the benefit of the children. An effort must be made to establish a better environment for learning for all children of the District of Columbia. We must especially emphasize increased levels of effort toward basic skills. Without these needed skills, the children cannot be adequately prepared to face the everyday world. CAPTION: Picture 1, Cobb; Picture 2, Wellington; Picture 3, D. Brown; Picture 4, Quander; Picture 5, Webb; Picture 6, Carson; Picture 7, Kinlow; Picture 8, Jones; Picture 9, Wallace; Picture 10, Holmes