Glendale Unified school board candidates unfurl their answers

Teacher evaluations and budget hurdles were among the topics submitted from the public for a forum that put the spotlight on the seven candidates vying for three seats on the Glendale Unified school board.

The televised forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank on Wednesday, attracted about 20 people to the district headquarters, where candidates each were given up to one minute to respond to each question.

Speaking on the teacher-evaluation process, incumbent Christine Walters said statewide test scores shouldn't be the only measurement of teacher effectiveness.

She suggested implementing student surveys at high schools similar to ones used at colleges “to see how effective students believe their teachers are … but that wouldn't be the entirety of it,” she said.

Candidate Daniel Cabrera said observations should be the primary component of teacher evaluations and test scores should be used to measure teacher progress.

Candidate Ali Sadri said he has been studying the methods of Michelle Rhee — a controversial educator and former District of Columbia schools chancellor.

“I do think you need to have some sort of reward system for teachers that produce better students, so I'm a supporter of that, so far,” he said.

However, in response to a question about the new common core state standards — which include in-depth development of critical thinking, problem-solving, communication skills and creativity — Sadri deferred to fellow candidates.

“I'm not familiar with it,” he said of the initiative, which the majority of states will adopt in 2014.

Candidate Jennifer Freemon said the new standards will require additional training for teachers to collaborate with each other on lessons that allow students “to delve into subject matter in a deep and authentic way.”

Incumbent Greg Krikorian said “unity and purpose” were important in gaining the support of fellow board members to achieve a single goal.

“The ultimate goal here is students first, and I have a track record and strong history on that,” he said.

Candidates were also asked how various parent groups raising different amounts of money for schools may indirectly contribute to inequity among schools.

With some parents unable to afford to contribute to fundraising efforts, candidate Armina Gharpetian said the district may want to seek help from local businesses.

Seeking additional public funds for the school district should be a priority, said incumbent Joylene Wagner.

“We need to continue to advocate at the state and federal level for real adequacy in funding,” she said.


Follow Kelly Corrigan on on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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