Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Response from David Jackson - School Board Candidate

1. What education (schools attended, degrees attained), experience, and attributes do you have that qualify you for a position on the St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) Board of Education?

I attended St. Louis Public Schools from Kindergarten through High School Graduation. I have attained a BS, in Business Administration in 1993 from St. Louis University, a BS, in Criminal Justice in 1998 from St. Louis University. I also attained an Associates in Accounting from Sanford Brown Business College of St. Louis.

2. What do you view as the key role(s) of this position? What do you view as the important attributes needed for this position?

The key role of a Board Member of the Board of Education is to set policy, hire a competent Superintendent and ensure the children of the SLPS receive a quality education. An important attribute needed for this position would be patience, communication and listening skills, as well as, some role in the SLPS, either being a former student, a parent, relative or teacher, some role where you would have first-hand knowledge of the system.

3. Why do you think you are the best person for SLPS Board of Education? What differentiates you from your opponents?

I consider myself at this time to be the best person for a seat on the Board of Education due to my past and current relationship with the SLPS. My eight (8) years volunteering as a board member and the support of my board to have been elected in a position of leadership for five (5) years. These attributes definitely differentiates me from my opponents.

4. What do you feel are the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the SLPS? What do you feel are the most pressing issues currently facing the SLPS system, and what plans do you have to address these issues?

Strengths of the SLPS are in the teachers. I strongly believe we have some fantastic, committed and skilled teachers throughout the district, with an unbelievable passion and drive to educate our children. Unfortunately, the SLPS has weaknesses, mainly support and resources for those dedicated teachers from Central Office. These are top priorities for the current elected Board of Education in which they are constantly discussed and considered.

5. What do you believe is important about public education?

It’s the foundation of a person’s success in life and should be given freely.

6. What do you believe is the current role of the SLPS Board of Education given the existence of a Special Administrative Board and the provisionally accredited school system? 

What the law dictates and the constituents elected us to do, monitor and report the operations of the Special Administrative Board and its Administration.

7. What do you see as the role of charter schools in relation to and within the SLPS system? 

As it stands now, I believe the District needs time and resources to continue in educating its children to the best of its ability. Adding more Charter Schools in the City really diminishes these efforts. Charter Schools can exist simultaneous with a public school district as true partners, but not as competitors.

8. What do you think are the positives and negatives of the current Missouri school accountability system (MSIP 5)?

This is a very strenuous and demanding process, its also a continuous work in progress. This is only the second year of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education utilizing this tool to measure the success of the school and child, so the jury is still out on its success.

9. Are you in favor of or opposed to accrediting schools and not districts? Why?

I and the current elected Board of Education are in favor of accrediting individual schools rather than entire districts. We aggressively lobbied the State Legislature to do just that. In 2007 when the SLPS lost its accreditation, the elected Board of Education directed its Superintendent to gather information from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and consider accrediting all of its high schools. This was completed by the end of 2008 and all high schools were accredited by the NCA. By implementing individual school accreditation it affects several points; if a individual school building is unaccredited, its allows those students in that particular school to transfer within the same district to a accredited school building. It also affords the district time and latitude to develop a school improvement plan for that specific school building. The district would lose no funding from transferring out of the district and thus affording the district to focus on its improvement plans for those unaccredited schools and not losing any valuable resources to not only the improvement schools, but to those schools which are accredited.

10. SLPS is currently provisionally accredited. The school system could become accredited or unaccredited. If the system doesn’t become accredited, what is your opinion of the Missouri DESE plan for student transfers from unaccredited to accredited school systems?

I feel the current system of DESE is flawed and the current law is somewhat flawed. Currently the Legislature is considering several different bills addressing the transfer law, however the language in those bills take away parents rights as to where they may want to send their child for their education. Many school districts may become bankrupted with the current law and the bills currently under review.

11. What are your opinions about the current form of teacher tenure in SLPS? What do you think are its strengths and weaknesses? Would you support a strong teacher tenure system within the SLPS?

I believe the current form of teacher tenure in the SLPS is suffice. I think the teachers are supported by a strong union representation and its works. However, I believe the district must address more support and resources for the teacher. I definitely would support a strong teacher tenure system with accountability of the teacher’s success in the classroom in place.

12. The U.S. Congress needs to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) this year. What changes would you advocate for in the next iteration of the legislation?

I support giving States more flexibility in the delivery of Common Core Standards.

13. Population loss in the City of St. Louis is often attributed to residents’ hesitation to send their children to St. Louis Public Schools. As a school board member, what tools are available to you to promote SLPS as a viable choice for parents? 

Parent involvement and communication regarding the many successes throughout the SLPS. There exist several avenues now, SLPS TV, Telephone Robo Calls, School Board Meetings, PTAs and PTOs.

14. SLPS has spent resources to provide an expanded pre-K program. What do you think about pre-K programs and, if you believe pre-K programs are important, how would you provide additional funding?

Pre-K is very important and vital to the educational success of the child. The district needs to look at refocusing its dollars to the classrooms to fund this program. Accountability of its many existing educational programs need to evaluated for continued use. They also need to aggressively utilized its St. Louis Schools Foundation organization to attain additional grants for the program.

15. What do you feel is the appropriate role of community/neighborhood input in determining which schools the SLPS must close? How should the SLPS determine which schools to close? What criteria should be used?

First there needs to be community meetings on what the actual condition of that particular school is in; attendance, population, test scores, transportation, cost of operating and parental involvement. This process must be transparent for the community and parents to have a clear and concise overall picture of the condition of the school and its effect upon the students, the community and the district as a whole. This criteria should be utilized when considering school building closures.

No comments: