Education Matters: In board election, common sense, open minds count Before

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

I tackle this week’s topic I must apologize for last week’s quiz.

There were a few glaring errors that a number of people pointed out to me and I’m feeling a little contrite, since I was trying to demonstrate that human intelligence still surpasses any and all technological contrivances that simulate our brains.

The answer I gave to the question, “Which of the seven was beardless?” referring to the Seven Dwarfs, was “Dumbo.” The answer, of course, is “Dopey,” which I absolutely knew, but for some inexplicable reason, I wrote Dumbo, the Disney elephant with big ears.

What can I say? I’m human. Senior moments aside, I’d like to turn to the local election on April 5, and specifically to the contest for seats on the Glendale Unified School District board of education. All the candidates deserve our respect and admiration for wanting to improve the state of our education and spend countless uncompensated — and often thankless — hours toward that end.

I’m no expert on any of the good people running for the board, but I’ve gotten to know some of them fairly well in their connection to our schools. I hope the voters in our community will take experienced leadership into consideration when they step into the voting booth.

There are daunting financial decisions facing our district and experience is going to be invaluable. We’ll need leaders unafraid to speak their minds, while at the same time remaining willing to change their minds after when new information comes to them.

Listen carefully to which candidates have common sense and which are absolutely, above all other things, dedicated to the education and the well-being of our children. We need a steady hand and wise counsel in the years ahead.

We’ll also be well served by any candidate with experience in the kind of technology that is envisioned to upgrade our district’s infrastructure. This is especially important if Measure S should pass, since some of the bond’s proceeds will be used to maintain a competitive technological edge over school districts throughout the nation.

All too often our elected officials rely on input from outside sources to guide their decisions on how monies are spent, and that can lead to bad decisions and wasted money. We voters rightfully demand assurances that the public’s investment in education is in good hands.

Ask which of the candidates is addressing the options that our secondary students presently lack in our schools. I remember a day when shop classes were part of our secondary curriculum and our educational establishment was not hamstrung by the assumption that all children are destined for college.

There is a growing number of students today who have no interest in geometry or Shakespeare, but who want to pursue trades. Those students find nothing but frustration in our secondary schools. I envision a day when we are able to offer a number of options for our school children, even perhaps establishing a separate facility for those who wish to pursue an education in the trades.

Next week, I’d like to discuss Measure S and try to sort out the pros and cons of a bond measure that will have profound implications for the continued high quality of our schools. As to how the teachers in the district feel about the measure, I have been privy to many discussions that have taken place on various campuses and it is my belief that the great majority are for Measure S, despite the stated opposition by our union’s leadership.

Every teacher is for reducing class size, which is what our union presently is struggling to accomplish. That will take money that hopefully Sacramento will free up for districts throughout the state, but there is great uncertainty whether that will happen, given the deep cuts proposed for our state’s budget. And if we must live with 30 children per class in our elementary schools while our new governor attempts to put our economic house in order, then so be it for the time being.

I took out all of my class pictures from Montrose Elementary School and counted the number of my classmates in grades 1 through 6, and with the exception of one class (29 students), the rest were all over 30. If my generation was somehow able to receive a quality education with those numbers, I’ve got to believe the present one can do the same.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@sbcglobal.net.

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