Last week's DCI account of the League of Women Voters' school board forum, while fairly accurate, missed one very important difference among the candidates and that is competition in education also known as vouchers.
I know of no other way to force change for the better than competition.
Any organization will defend itself and resist change especially if it involves changes in personnel levels. But let me just illustrate the magnitude of the problem as I did at the forum. Our per pupil funding with state equalization and local property taxes is about $7,000 per student. If a class size of 20 can be maintained either directly or with the addition of remote classrooms, that's $140,000 per classroom.
Teacher's salary plus benefits is $45,000, so that leaves $95,000 per classroom for heating, lighting, maintenance, aides and busses. I think a much better job can be done at a much lower cost with those funds, but it will take competition to show the way. I would vote for vouchers once the last hurdle of the Supreme Court is passed in a few months (the Court of Appeals has already ruled in favor of vouchers). The voters should know that Tammy Smith, my opponent, opposes outside competition and vouchers. As was pointed out in the DCI front page article I oppose Common Core as it straightjackets the future and limits local control; Tammy Smith voted for it. I oppose the billion dollar tax increase Amendment 66 and Tammy is for it.
Please bear this in mind as you cast your ballot.
Editor's note: The DCI asked Tammy Smith to clarify her position on the issues raised by Mike Mason in this letter. Her response follows:
I am not sure where Mr. Mason got his information on my position of these different issues. Let me take this opportunity to clarify some of Mr. Mason's misconceptions regarding where I stand on certain issues.
Mr. Mason says I oppose outside competition. This is totally not true as evidenced by the number of choices students and parents have come to enjoy in our school district (i.e. traditional, charter, an opportunity school in multiple communities, Montessori, DAAL and the support of parental decision to home school.
Mr. Mason stated that I voted for Common Core. I have never voted for Common Core. I supported the adoption of the Colorado Academic Standards. Our current curriculum has been developed totally by Delta County teachers. With the input from parent and community through the accountability process I felt this gave us total local control and in my opinion this has truly been a grassroots effort.
As far as Mr. Mason's statement that I favor Amendment 66, I have no idea why he makes that statement. I have remained neutral on this position and have encouraged people who ask to please research and get as much information on the amendment that they can. I feel we need to listen to the voters.
In closing I would like to state that in my opinion a school board member must be willing and able to put aside personal and political philosophies and make the best decisions you can based on input from parents, students, staff and the various communities. I have always tried to do this and promise to continue. I will look at every issue separately and make the best decision at the time for Delta County children.blog comments powered by Disqus