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Primary election voters guide for Shorewood School Board

Four candidates will advance to April 1 spring election

Feb. 3, 2014

 

Wendy Daniell-Rhodes

Age: Not given

Employer/occupation: Saz's Catering

Education: B.A. Italian, French from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; master's in cultural foundations of education from UWM

Contact: (414) 963-4832; wendy.daniell@sbcglobal.net

Why are you the right person for the job?

I am passionate about education and Shorewood schools. School districts around the state have been challenged by political decisions. We need to maintain the high quality of education that parents in Shorewood expect. I will make decisions based on the best interests of the children in Shorewood.

Across the state, districts are warming up to, and some implementing, the concept of merit pay for teachers. Is this an idea you support? If so, how would you make it happen in Shorewood? If not, how should the district compensate employees?

This is a moot point. Every district in Wisconsin will come under the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System in 2014, coupling 50 percent performance with 50 percent student outcomes. It will be based on test results and "performance," which will be judged by school administrators. In theory, educators have strong support from the day they initially begin teaching and have continuous support as they continue their careers. The pay they receive will be reflected in that.

In your estimation, what is the most pressing issue facing the district and how would you go about solving it?

The most pressing issue facing the district is to maintain the high level of education we have come to expect. We need to retain and recruit excellent educators. Classroom sizes need to remain low. Gov. Walker speaks of tax cuts, but any surplus the state has should be re-directed to schools. SEED is a phenomenal asset to the community. I would encourage all residents to become involved and aware of the issues facing our schools and voice their opinions to the Legislature. Not many residents attend school board meetings; We need to reach out and communicate better with the community.

Gregg Davis

Age: 48

Employer/occupation: network administrator, BMO Harris Bank

Education: bachelor's in political science and history, University of Michigan

Contact: (773) 398-9460; grdavischicago@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

I am the only person running with the breadth of experience combined with an unswerving commitment to public education. I have served on local school councils in a large, challenging urban environment with limited budgets for over eight years and have served on several Shorewood School District committees.

Across the state, districts are warming up to, and some implementing, the concept of merit pay for teachers. Is this an idea you support? If so, how would you make it happen in Shorewood? If not, how should the district compensate employees?

The Shorewood schools have some of the most creative, innovative teachers that I've ever encountered as both a parent and council member. Merit pay will not encourage our teachers to do a better job and may in fact do the opposite. I fear more teaching to the test if merit pay were to be adopted here. The current step system is the fairest way, at this point, to compensate the Shorewood district staff.

In your estimation, what is the most pressing issue facing the district and how would you go about solving it?

The most pressing issue facing the district today is the lack of clear communication and soliciting of community input by the board. We have seen multiple administrators and staff leave yet there has been precious little discussion of why this is happening in one of the state’s best school districts. There may be very good reasons for these departures, one of which is the uncertainty of benefits due to Act 10, but there hasn't been very good explanations. Additionally, the district has already started to align curriculum to the Common Core Standards and again there has been no community wide discussion. My proposal would be to hold monthly community sessions to let people know what is on the horizon with the district and to solicit input from them. If we want to continue to be the best school district in the state, we all have to communicate and work together.

Margaret Schmidt

Age: 47

Employer/occupation: full-time doctoral student; former Shorewood High School teacher

Education: bachelor's in French and history from the University of Wisconsin; master's in French from the University of Texas; master's in curriculum and instruction from UWM

Contact: (414) 828-8967; mschmidtschoolboard2014@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

My educational background, work and life experiences make me a uniquely qualified candidate. I have dedicated my life to education, having spent over 20 years teaching, including the last 18 at Shorewood High School. I am an innovative thinker, able to balance theory and practice to create and advance change.

Across the state, districts are warming up to, and some implementing, the concept of merit pay for teachers. Is this an idea you support? If so, how would you make it happen in Shorewood? If not, how should the district compensate employees?

I do not support merit pay for teachers because K-12 education is not a business and teachers should not be compensated according to a business model. Merit pay undermines collaboration by pressuring teachers to only think about their own performance, thus destroying a healthy school environment. I believe in a variation of the current system of compensation that would allow teachers to advance on the pay scale based on strong evaluations.

In your estimation, what is the most pressing issue facing the district and how would you go about solving it?

Generally speaking, I believe the most pressing issue for the district is the erosion of local control. State and federal mandates and initiatives (namely, Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessments, and Educator Effectiveness) are competing with our community's agenda. As a School Board member, I will research these initiatives and possible alternatives, evaluate their fit with the community's preferences, and encourage open community discussion around these and other issues in public forums.

Paru Shah (i)

Age: 41

Employer/occupation: assistant professor of political science at UWM

Education: bachelor's in philosophy from the University of Michigan; master's in public health from University of Illinois at Chicago; PhD in political science from Rice University

Contact: (414) 988-9132; pshah17@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

My family moved to Shorewood because we love the schools. I am seeking re-election because over the last year I have held a number of leadership positions and have worked consistently to build consensus and work collaboratively toward the common goal of achieving excellence for all students in Shorewood.

Across the state, districts are warming up to, and some implementing, the concept of merit pay for teachers. Is this an idea you support? If so, how would you make it happen in Shorewood? If not, how should the district compensate employees?

Shorewood values excellent teachers, and I support finding ways to compensate teachers for their hard work and dedication. I do not support compensation systems that focus narrowly on test scores, however, since a single indicator cannot measure successful teaching. As we move forward as a district in using Educator Effectiveness, I do support systems that create career paths for teachers, honor their professional development and include teachers as partners in development of the compensation plan.

In your estimation, what is the most pressing issue facing the district and how would you go about solving it?

We still deal with the aftermath of Act 10 in Shorewood, and Given <XH>the significant amount of staff turnover in the last few years, the district must continue to find ways to attract and retain the best teachers and administrators. This year, we have taken a number of important steps toward creating an environment that acknowledges this goal. We have created opportunities for collaboration across the district, such as teacher feedback and input in decision-making around significant policies areas (curriculum, human resources, finance), and the creation of professional learning communities in all four schools in Shorewood. In addition, we are in the process of working with staff to create a new compensation system based on what teachers value most. Last, we have prioritized remaining competitive in terms of for our salary and benefits as part of in our budget process.

Ruth Treisman (i)

Age: 57

Employer/occupation: nurse practitioner, clinical assistant professor of nursing at UWM

Education: bachelor's from Oakland University; masters in nursing from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor

Contact: (414) 967-0330; treisra@gmail.com

Why are you the right person for the job?

I bring experience and stability. I will continue to serve my community as well as the staff of district by contributing my time, talents and passion to help our students achieve educational excellence and to grow into adults who are well-prepared to be good citizens.

Across the state, districts are warming up to, and some implementing, the concept of merit pay for teachers. Is this an idea you support? If so, how would you make it happen in Shorewood? If not, how should the district compensate employees?

Many of our teachers have met rigorous standards through intensive study, self-assessment, peer review and expert evaluation to achieve national certification. This is truly an outstanding achievement. I feel we should help develop teachers through staff development. I worry that merit awards will create inequities in the workplace and I think that with further study of the issue, we can achieve a system in Shorewood that takes in consideration all employees.

In your estimation, what is the most pressing issue facing the district and how would you go about solving it?

THE NEED TO IMPROVE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. With the district’s changing demographics in recent years, it has been an ongoing challenge to raise overall performance levels. While an ever-increasing number of district students do excel (as evidenced by the growing numbers of students mastering Advanced Placement classes), there remains an achievement gap that must be addressed. In recent years the board has taken a number of steps in this regard, including the development of the RTI plan that focuses on improved teaching and learning programs, are looking at different approaches to the school day, buying new textbooks and increased professional development programs for the staff. In general, the emphasis should be put on “All Children Moving Ahead.”

 

Editor's Note: Candidates were limited to 50-, 75- and 150-word responses.

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