Highlights from the Superintendent Candidates’ Q&A Tonight with Ferguson, Uselton, Darnell and Dr. Robinson
Just my thoughts on the candidates.
Jerry Darnell: I loved his comments in reference to putting together an actual parent-teacher committee to work with the district on various issues. He came across as kind and good-hearted as people have said that he is. There is no question that he cares about the students and parents. He was a well liked principal, and he is good at mediating between staff and parents when issues arise. He opposes Common Core because of the federal intrusion into education and is against over testing our children. Mr. Darnell wants input from staff, parents and the community.
Cory Uselton: I loved his comments about unifying the district. I think he took the strongest stance against Common Core and PARCC testing. He commended Senator Parker for his work on dyslexia and stated that he will be involved with our legislators and education legislation in Jackson. Cory stressed the importance of planning, not just for the short term, but for the long term. He values his teachers, students and parents and wants their input. He discussed ways to help ensure SPED students graduate. He emphasized that we need to worry less about the test results and focus on what’s best for the students.
Edith Robinson: I loved her comments about being a strong supporter of our teachers. She values them and realizes how important their role is in the classroom. She shared her experience with SPED and discussed her grandson’s auditory processing disorder. Dr. Robinson stated that she sees some issues with Common Core and recently proctored the PARCC test to better understand its impact on the students and staff. She explained the issue with our district not having a certified speech pathologist and the difficulties of keeping one employed. She also stressed the need to be transparent to the public.
Jim Ferguson: I loved his ability to be able to discuss the issues while adding his sense of humor into the discussion. This may not seem like a lot, but I appreciate anyone that can discuss serious issues and not lose their sense of humor or true spirit. He opposes Common Core and the PARCC test. He thinks that we are testing too much. Jim wants to evaluate the jobs at the county office, because he knows this has been a serious concern in the county. He loves the students and shared some of his personal experiences in dealing with students with special needs.
Overall, they all seemed to concur that Common Core and PARCC are a problem. They all believe we are testing way too much and admitted that too much of this semester is devoted to testing as opposed to instruction. Learning has pretty much subsided for the remainder of the school year. They all felt that this needs to be changed.
Other mutually agreed upon points:
Depending on budgets and board approval we will have 4 certified teachers for dyslexia next year.
Early identification of dyslexia is important.
We need to improve upon the way in which SPED children graduate. Look into the diploma options.
We need to make sure that IEPs are being followed and that we put together clear plans for SPED students to achieve maximum success.
Expulsion and suspension of SPED students needs to be reduced, and behaviors manifested as part of a student’s disability must be taken into account.
They discussed bullying of SPED students and in general. They all agreed that this is a serious issue and shared ways our district has addressed the issue.
This is a brief summarization of the evening, the candidates and their stances on the issues. Most of them seemed to share similar stances, and I thought they all did an overall good job. Since this event was hosted by The Arc, the conversation focused on children with special needs. I would suggest to everyone that you listen to the candidates speak more than once. Try to meet with them one on one or in a smaller group setting. Make sure you get the answers to any questions you have. I think they have all done an excellent job of being easily accessible to the public.
I commend them all for a job well done tonight.