- Howard Hills has the know-how and experience to help our School Board attain a higher standard in performing its legislative and school administration oversight roles:
- Continue what works and serves students and families well.
- Manage positive change to better serve school community.
Howard Hills has clear priorities -
- Enhance local control of locally funded schools: More user-friendly, high-performing School Board empowers entire school community
- Increase school budget transparency: More open, orderly budget execution
- STEM: More comprehensive science, technology, engineering and math curriculum K-12
- STEAM Plus: Expand inter-disciplinary curriculum integrating fine arts, STEM and classical studies
- Fiscal practices reform needed to prevent creeping state government regulatory intrusions into local school finances
- Home Grown/In-House "Master Educators" program: Invest in teachers, end costly undue dependence on outside consultants and Sacramento education industry
- Enhance civics of school governance: Regular and on-going "Open House" school governance education workshops for Board, parents, students and community
- Restore active democratic Student Government: Citizenship and civics education derived from Student Congress, Cabinet and Honor Court can enrich campus life
Question: Is it possible for us to have good schools even with a weak School Board?
Yes, but a high performing School Board can make good schools even better for students, teachers and families. When schools are good that is never an excuse for a School Board to operate at a lower level of excellence than we expect of students, teachers, parents.
Currently, in curriculum development, budget execution, personnel management and community relations our School Board is unable to sustain consistent continuity and often does not follow rules it imposes on parents, teachers, students and the public. This undermines trust and divides those served by the schools into factions, forcing people to take sides instead of working together.
I bring to this campaign 47 years of volunteer service as a student, parent, grandparent in public schools, including national, state and local PTA affairs. My ability to help our School Board also is due to skills not currently represented on the Board acquired as a senior legal counsel in the Office of the President, National Security Council and U.S. State Department.
In every senior post I held my mission included enlisting career and political officials in restoration of best practices and high standards of performance after years of decline in effectiveness, efficiency and economy. My experience and success in restoring user friendly service to the public was recognized at the highest levels in the federal government.
I am running to give voters a choice to see how a School Board member performs duties without being influenced by re-election politics, or any other personal interests. If elected I will come to every Board meeting prepared to cast independent informed votes that serve every student in the schools, as if every child was one of my own.
I am running for one term to give back to the schools where my public service career began. I do so because it has become clear our School Board members too often act defensively and unproductively due to a need for greater confidence in performing the governance role assigned to the Board under state law.
If elected I will support the empowerment of the Board at a higher level of performance so that it can in turn better lead, serve and seek to empower our professional educators, students, parents and community with even more successful public schools.
Philosophy of Our Campaign
My primary goal is to restore openness and ensure greater public awareness with more active community participation in the school district's budgetary, rule-making, human resources and policy development process.
I will work with other Board members to restore trust in the fairness of public school governance and a higher standard of civic literacy in Board proceedings and policy making.
We should work in a more collegial and collaborative way, consulting with all parties of interest, to make school governance more user friendly for teachers, students, parents and the public.
We need to make school governance more predictable, uplifting, welcoming and even fun again.
Why Does It Matter?
Our local School Board spends more than $45 million in local property taxpayer dollars every year, in a unnecessarily complicated and controversial school finance process that needs to be streamlined and more transparent.
As a Board member I will do my own independent due diligence to ensure we are investing in our local public school human assets - teachers, staff, employees - effectively, efficiently and prudently for optimal outcomes.
American civics should be modeled by the School Board, instead we too often have too much drama, intrigue and personality driven controversy. Roles of Board and staff are not well-defined and good institutional boundaries are not observed. As a result Board and staff are not practicing traits of high-performing school governance identified in national studies on best practices for School Boards.
If the Board, staff and public are triangulated and being played off against each other, that means the academic leadership has become enmeshed in the governance role of the elected Board. It is the job of the Board to set clear policy and support strong academic leadership, but protect the staff, teachers, parents and the public from an unduly politicized school governance culture.
The Superintendent should be able to point to Board policy and direction as the source of authority for all school administration measures. The Board should be able to support the Superintendent and point to policy set by direction of the Board governing and authorizing measures taken by the Superintendent. When we restore true "best practices" in School Board performance we will see morale restored, higher achievement, with fairness and integrity in the governance of our schools.
That is when taxpayers and private charitable donors will be getting their money's worth out of our public schools in more fruitful ways, already proven in other districts we can learn from to make our great schools even better.
If elected I will hold myself to a higher standard and work to restore a more generous spirit of civic volunteerism.
As a former Peace Corps Volunteer in what Americans call a "third world" country, you will never hear me complain as recent Board members have that School Board is a "thankless job," or that "I don't get paid so I can't take the time" to cast a fully informed independent vote.
We need to recover the civic literacy to understand that volunteerism in service to community is an honor driven by a higher sense of duty than anything we get paid to do it.