school board candidates differ on English learners
21, 2004 12:00 AM
VALLEY - In a wide-ranging discussion, the four candidates for the Paradise
Valley Unified School District governing board talked about closing schools,
marketing the district and getting parents involved.
About 50 people attended the 90-minute forum Wednesday at the district office.
It was sponsored by the Paradise Valley United Parent Council.
Incumbents Sue Skidmore and Tom Ohmart and candidates Nancy Case and Anne
Greenberg are vying for three open seats in the Nov. 2 election.
four agreed they didn't want to close another school. Besides, Ohmart added, the
law requires at least a year to begin the review process of closing a school. In
2003, the board voted to close 500-student Gold Dust Elementary School in an
attempt to save money.
said the district instead should work on marketing itself and adding different
programs, maybe expanding the Core Knowledge curriculum to other schools.
Skidmore suggested that the district look into adding another International
Greenberg said the board should ask parents what type of magnet programs they
want their children to attend.
candidates differed on how to help English language learners in the district.
Skidmore said research from Johns Hopkins University showed that a paired
bilingual education program, where students are taught to read in their native
language and in English at different times during the day, was best. Learning to
speak a different language was much different from taking a test in that
language, Skidmore said.
certainly could learn enough Croatian to go to the bathroom, but I couldn't pass
AIMS in Croatian," she said.
said that English immersion was state law and that the district had to look at
the schools that were teaching the students successfully.
Greenberg said the district needed to look at each student individually and find
different ways to make each successful.
Ohmart said there were two issues: First, students have to be immersed in the
language; next, parents need to support their children in learning the new
candidates disagreed on whether a registered nurse is needed at every school.
The district is considering allowing licensed practical nurses.
can't find BSN's (nurses with bachelor degrees) to fill those positions,"
agreed and added that the quality of the candidate was more important.
Greenberg said she would prefer to have a nurse with a bachelor's degree in
nursing. The person has to be able to do more than just put a bandage on, she
said. The nurse is the person who manages the health office.
Ohmart, whose wife is a pediatric emergency room nurse, said he would want
someone there who could do the job in its entirety.
Getting parents involved at the middle and high school level is harder than at
the elementary level, a parent attending the forum told the candidates. How did
they plan on involving them?
said an open exchange between parents and teachers was needed.
Greenberg said that parents could be used as tutors.
parents have different skills," she said.
Extracurricular activities can hook parents, Ohmart said.
"They'll start to understand they have a role in their child's education," he
the candidates agreed that the Legislature should provide more state funding per
student and fund the education mandates it sets forth.