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Position papers: State Board of Education, District 7

10/4/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Staff Writer

James Collum vs. Sarah Fowler vs. John Sans vs. W. Roak Zeller

James Collum
Sarah Fowler
John Sans
Voters will vote for one candidate for State Board of Education District 7 representative for the unexpired term ending Jan. 1, 2015, on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. This race is nonpartisan. Candidate W. Roak Zeller did not respond to our request for information by the stated deadline. The information provided below was submitted by the candidates, with their responses to our questions printed as submitted.

James Collum

Why are you running for state board of education? 

“I received a quality public education in Northeast Ohio which has been largely responsible for the success and happiness I have been so fortunate to experience in my lifetime. I believe this to be a right of every child in our Ohio communities and I believe that right may be in jeopardy given recent troubling developments in our state’s political climate. Based on these recent observations and my discussions with parents, teachers and community leaders, I felt compelled to run for this elected position so I can be in the best position to advocate for the children, teachers and parents of our communities. I want to insure students will have the same opportunity for success in their attendance of our public schools that I was afforded.”

What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?

“If I have the privilege to be elected to the State Board of Education, the three most important issues that must be addressed are: (1) Adequate funding. At this point in time, although not within the specific jurisdiction of the State Board of Education, there needs to be a frank and open discussion about how to adequately and fairly fund our public schools. (2) Retention of quality teachers. In the face of criticism of our public education system and one of its most important assets, our educators, we need reemphasize the value of teachers in our schools. (3) Establishment of a better method of evaluating the performance of our schools in lieu of our overreliance on standardized test scores. Constant and needless testing of teachers and students that only leads to an inaccurate measure of their performance is not a productive use of anyone’s time.”

 

Sarah Fowler

Why are you running for state board of education?

“I am concerned about government infringement on parental rights. Parents have the God-given right and responsibility to direct their children’s education and I desire to protect their right to choose whatever education opportunity they deem best for their child. I desire to preserve educational freedom for future generations, including my own children and grandchildren should the Lord bless me with any.”

What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?

“First and foremost, it is my goal to preserve parent’s rights to direct and be involved in their children’s education. I believe that parents should be able to choose the education opportunity that is best for their child. It is also important for local school boards to retain jurisdiction over the selection of the teachers, contracts, curricula, and daily operations of their public school(s).

“Secondly, we need to ensure that our students are receiving curriculum that teaches accurate, contextual history that includes our founding documents. Education involves the passing on of beliefs, skills and facts, in context. It is important to include ‘who’ historical figures are, as well as ‘why’ they believed/acted in that way.

“Finally, the State Board of Education has the opportunity to make funding suggestions to the legislature and governor. I believe it is time to replace burdensome (and unconstitutional) property tax funding with a more broad-based system that will not continue placing financial hardships on our seniors, farmers and land owners. A broad-based system could bring stability to local school board budgets so that programs and teachers are not continually hanging on the outcome of the next levy.”

 

John Sans

Why are you running for state board of education?

“The United States is in steep economic decline and much of the cause relates to the failure of the educational system to provide the skills needed for the 21st Century economy. Much economic documentation is available, but an excellent summary resource is the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom by Miller, Holmes, and Feulner. All the countries of the world are ranked. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, and Ireland all now rank above the United States in economic freedom. The United States has plummeted to tenth place with strong indications that it will fall even further unless there is a dramatic change of direction.

“The current public school model was developed by John Dewey more than 100 years or five human generations ago. In all that time public education has been preserved like an insect frozen in amber. It is pretty in appearance and strongly resembles a living insect, but it will never again go forth to pollinate flowers. The public education system was suitable for the industrial revolution a century ago, but the world has changed and the public education system is obsolete in the internet age, because it does not provide the right skillset.”

What would be your top three priorities if you took office? Why?

“1. Implement for Ohio the ideas of Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist from the University of Chicago. Essentially he said that the public schools need competition to improve. Nothing else will work. So charter schools, internet schools, parochial schools, home schooling, etc. must all be encouraged.

“2. Reduce the amount of pointless testing in the public schools. Too much testing only encourages test fraud as in Atlanta. It is a fundamental premise of industrial quality assurance that a product or process cannot be improved by additional testing. The same statistical principles apply to education. The process must be reengineered to increase the Cpk parameter to 1.66 or higher.

“3. Focus on fundamental skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Most of all children need to be imbued with a lifelong love of learning. The first great economic revolution was agriculture 5,000 years ago. The second great economic transition was the industrial revolution starting two hundred years ago. Now we are in midst of the third great economic revolution related to information technology and the internet. Jobs of the future cannot even be predicted now. Rather children must be taught to reeducate themselves several times during their working lives.”

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