Thursday, April 21, 2011

Meet the Ward 4 State Board of Education candidates: Andrew Moss

On April 26, Ward 4 residents will elect a new DC State Board of Education (SBoE) representative. In an effort to help my readers get to know the candidates and their stances on the issues, I sent out a short questionnaire to each candidate. I'll run the responses alphabetically each day this week.

Today: Andrew Moss.

1) What key issues do you see yourself and the DCSBOE focusing on to improve the education of all DC children?

There are many key issues that I would focus on if elected to the DC State Board of Education, namely global education, Common Core Standards implementation, and improving graduation requirements. However, I am passionate about workforce readiness and I am a strong advocate for career and technical education programs. We live in a competitive world and our students need to be better prepared to enter the workforce. A high percentage of our youth between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed, signifying there is a disconnect between what schools are doing to prepare students to enter the workforce and the actual skills needed in the workplace. It is disheartening that residents of neighboring jurisdictions come into our city to take advantage of employment opportunities while many of our former students lack the basic skills to secure jobs. I would focus on implementing challenging standards and curricula in DC Public and Public Charter Schools that prepare students for the workforce and develop career and technical education programs for Ward 4 schools.

2) Do you have (a) school-age child(ren)? If so, do they attend DC public schools?

At the present time, my son is in nursery school, but he will enter a District of Columbia Public School in September 2012. As a parent, my hope is that we will have options for him in Ward 4 instead of competing for special permission to attend a school outside our neighborhood.

3) What is your opinion on the current responsibilities and limitations of SBoE representatives, and how do you plan to work within the position's limitations?

I think the DC State Board of Education Representative position is only limited when you compare the current state board of education to the former local school board. The state board of education is productive and effective in what they are responsible for. I attended a public meeting in March and I found a lot of innovative ideas for improving education in the District of Columbia and complex issues are still presented to the board to make recommendations to the superintendent of education for improvement. If elected to represent Ward Four, I would work with what falls within the purview of the state board of education and use my background and expertise to contribute to the work of the board to maximize results.

4) Many people suggest that we must hold students accountable for their own performance. Do you agree with this statement? If so, how do you propose enforcing
student accountability?

I believe students are accountable for their own performance when the proper resources are provided for them to excel. Since our public education system doesn’t provide them with standard facilities, a challenging curriculum, and other necessary resources needed to receive a competitive education, we can’t say to students, “You are accountable for your education.” As a result, student accountability can’t be enforced at this time.

5) Considering Phelps, the Career and Technical Education-focused high school, just received deep cuts in the latest round of school budgets, how do you propose we prepare students for life after high school? Do you support introducing more career and technical education into the school system?

It is unfortunate that Phelps High School will likely suffer with budget cuts next school year. I am a strong advocate for career and technical education. Such programs enable students to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the workforce upon earning a high school diploma. Preparing students for life after high school begins with identifying and honing a skill of interest to a student. We should offer more support in District of Columbia Public and Public Charter schools to nurture the budding talents of our students such as culinary arts, cosmetology, and plumbing. Being exposed to these skills early in the education career will only enhance the career choice of a student after high school. I just saw a former student of mine who is now well into adulthood and has built a successful career as a chef in the area. He was exposed to that discipline in a DC Public High School. With Phelps losing money to sustain their career and technical education program, some programs will be eliminated and that will mean less opportunities for our students.

6) The SBoE is responsible for approving the District's state accountability plan under Title I of the ESEA (aka No Child Left Behind). Are you familiar with the requirements of the accountability plan? If so, would you approve the District's current plan? If not, what would you change?

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was greatly needed at the time of passage, although it lacked the funding to be successfully implemented. However, there are many requirements under the District of Columbia’s accountability plan that need to be revised and updated to meet the needs of our students at the present time. In order to discuss what I would change, I find it appropriate to layout the benefits NCLB. It has helped the District of Columbia to track the success of schools and to identify the specific needs of failing schools. The law has also mandated qualified teachers in our school district. As a result, the District of Columbia State Board of Education has been instrumental in advising the state superintendent of education on improving the quality of teachers and the requirements for certification. In addition, the NCLB has held each District of Columbia Public and Public Charter School to accountability standards that are measured annually and made public to the parents.

One downside to NCLB is that too much emphasis is placed on test scores and it may put pressure on teachers to gear instruction to standardized tests. It also emphasizes reading, writing and math subjects, which has caused other subjects such as science, social studies and physical education to be neglected. The primary recommendation I would make to improving the District of Columbia No Child Left Behind Accountability Plan would be to increase the emphasis for science due to the importance of technology in today’s society.

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