My Goal in Blogging

I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Four school committee candidates step up in Amherst

Hampshire Gazette
Saturday, January 23, 2010

AMHERST - Incumbent School Committee member Kathleen Anderson is running for re-election, while incumbent Andrew Churchill is not, in the upcoming election in March.

Anderson, of 49 Deepwoods Drive, faces three challengers for the two School Committee seats. They are: Ernest Dalkas, of 170 East Hadley Road, Richard Hood, of 69 South Pleasant St., and Rob Spence, of 16 Bayberry Lane.

The election is March 23. The deadline for filing nomination papers is Feb. 2.

Anderson, 58, is an artist and educator. Her children, who are 35 and 33, attended Amherst schools, and her grandchild is currently at Crocker Farm School.

"I am interested in being a voice for many students whose issues and concerns sometimes get overlooked," she said in an interview. "I know many people are concerned about the redistricting decision, and some people's desires were unable to be met. I trust the voice that I bring will ensure that students who have had attachments to a particular school will feel that their needs will continue to be met."

Anderson said she contributes "a voice outside the mainstream" to the conversation about education.

Dalkas, 61, is a retired Vietnam veteran, and has children who are in fourth-grade and ninth-grade. He is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee on the school budget, and has been on the Crocker Farm Governance Council and a Town Meeting member.

He said he's running because he "wants to give back to the community."

"I'm very concerned about budget cuts and the direction our schools are going," he said. "I feel we are lowering stands for our children, and they are paying the price. It's the obligation of our community to educate our children, even though it's tough financially."

Hood, 52, has a Web design business and works out of his home. He has two children who are 23 and 21 and went to Amherst Regional High School. He is a Town Meeting member.

He is a member of the Citizens Advisory Committee, where he has pushed for greater budget transparency.

"What I really have a passion for is good communication," he said. "I feel that too often people inside the school system think everyone else knows what's going on just because they do. I want to foster a culture where people are always asking #What do we know that folks out there need to know?' Likewise, I think parents often communicate poorly with the schools and too often assume something they have heard is true, when it's not."

Spence, 40, is an emergency-room physician who works at Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer. He has two children at Fort River School and a third younger child.

He has been a member of the Fort River School Council and Town Meeting. He has served on the board of advisors of Amherst Committee on Excellence, and said he favors the School Committee's increasing reliance on data.

"I'm running because I felt like I could help the Amherst schools be a model of academic excellence," he said.


Anonymous said...

I know nothing about Rob Spence other than what I read in this article, but my first reaction is that we do not need another ACE person on the School Committee. Sorry, Rob, but I think we need a wider variety of opinion.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it would be terrible to have another school board member actively working to ensure that all Amherst kids get a rich, quality education! Especially someone who is a product of excellent public schools, spent years helping heal people in poor communities and who will be an active, intelligent school committee member.

jm said...

Hoepfully, you will learn more before you make a decision and dismiss any candidate so lightly. Isn't that what we would tell our children?

Anonymous said...

When did anon 354 say s/he didn't want "to ensure that all Amherst kids get a rich, quality education"!!

It is possible, I kid you not, to want the best for the children and NOT agree with the ideas of CS and ACE.
Shocking, I know.

Catherine A. Sanderson said...

My responses:

Anonymous 3:54 - make sure not to vote for Rick Hood either, since he also supports ACE. I'd hope you, and all voters, seriously consider all candidates and vote for those who best agree with your vision of what our schools should be. And I'd be careful about stereotyping "ACE" -- which includes people with a range of views, experiences, backgrounds, and priorities.

Anonymous 2:27 - as I said to the poster above, I believe all voters should carefully consider and learn about all candidates!

JM - well said.

Anonymous 8:47 - what types of ideas do I have, and does ACE have, that you disagree with? Use of evaluation, or data? Can you clarify the areas of disagreement?

Rick said...

Rather than talk about “ACE people” it’s better in my view to look at what is in writing as ACE goals, which I do generally support:

But the ACE goals are far from all that I support, and you can read the rest of what I support here:

I am not an “ACE person” nor am I am “Anti-ACE person”.

The stereotype of what an “ACE person” is may come partly from the fact that many of the ACE goals target mainly things that would help moderate to higher achieving kids, or at least do not specifically target things that would help lower achieving and/or disadvantaged kids. But that doesn’t mean that all “ACE people” are only interested in that. For example, Steve Rivkin is pushing for a summer school program to help disadvantaged/struggling kids even though that is not one of the specific ACE goals. I fully support that effort by Steve.

And guess what… that’s going to take money, so vote for yes for the override:

Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to see how any ACE goal won't benefit all Amherst students. Rck, can you be specific about what goals don't help lower achieving kids? Or why supporting some goals that help higher achieving kids should be pitted against goals that help lower achieving kids? Are there any ACE goals you don't support?

Rick said...

Well I agree with you that basically all the goals can help all students.

I would say AP Chemistry is one goal where it’s a small minority of high achieving kids that will benefit, and there is no such one item on the list that is strictly focuses on struggling kids – such as the summer program mentioned above would be.

That is not a bad thing, and all I am saying is that it’s an incomplete list of things that need to be done.

Or why supporting some goals that help higher achieving kids should be pitted against goals that help lower achieving kids?

I don’t think this at all – they don’t need to be “pitted against each other” - that mentality is illogical.

Are there any ACE goals you don't support?

I have reservations about two of them:

Establish a goal that all students complete a rigorous algebra course by the end of 8th grade.

This one sounds good to me – I just want to know more about what other schools do and how we would do it.

Offer students the opportunity to take four years of lab science in high school in the core scientific disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics).

This is of course referring to the ninth grade science debate. My view on that is here: - bottom one on the list of FAQs.