In a continuing tradition I sometimes put up a discussion or debate entry on Thursday Nights and recruit a few participants. Over the next few days former Simi Valley Mayor and School Board Member Greg Stratton and long time educator and union leader Stephen Blum of Ventura will be discussing their views and experiences in education.
Here are their biographies:
Greg has served as mayor of Simi Valley and after that he served on the Simi Valley Board of Education. He has occasionally written comments on my blog and has been outspoken in his views to the local press. Greg, Stephen sent in his bio below. He has frustrated fellow board members, unions, and more over the years. Serving on local boards and councils is often a thank less job. Being an elected official opens a person up to a high level of criticism, some of it deserved and some of it not. Greg, ever think of running for the park board and saying you served on all three?
If you want to add more to your bio email it to me and I will update yours too.
Education: BA in history from California Lutheran - 1977, MA in education from California Lutheran - 1990, Juris Doctorate from Ventura College of Law 2006. Passed California Bar Exam in 2006.
Taught for 25 years at Buena High School, Foothill Technology High School, and Ventura Adult Education. Coached cross-country and track and field for 22 years at Buena High School. Currently serving in eighth year as president of the Ventura Unified Education Association. Member of the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees since 2006.
Married to Debbie Blum who teaches at Rio Mesa High School. Our daughter, Teresa, is attending Ventura College. Competitive road runner for 30 years, two time Master's National Champion (5,000 and 10000 meters) former Master's American Record holder (road 5,000).
The format for this discussion is free flowing. I am going to start by posting some questions below that I want both of you to answer with a very brief response. After that it will be more Lincoln Douglas style where you can ask each other questions and explain your views more.
Make sure to include examples from your involvement with education to help all of us understand your reasoning more.
So here goes:
1. What are your thoughts on the recent Pink Friday rallies? Did either of you attend an event?
2. President Barack Obama has said he supports merit pay, extending the school day, and other educational reforms. Have you ever supported these type of proposals?
3. What do you think of the growth of magnet schools and/or charter schools? Would you like to see the expansion of charter or magnet schools in your community?
What are the major reasons charter or magnet schools haven't been increasing in your area? Simi Valley has two elementary magnet schools but it takes luck to get a student in. Do you support growing charter or magnet programs?
4. The state budget is likely going to cut back substantially on education spending. What do you think the impact on the quality of education will be? What programs or staff would you cut?
5. The seniority system makes sure that new teachers are laid off first, regardless of passion, talent, and skills. But most districts use some sort of tie breakers after seniority.
Do you support the seniority system as it currently is used? What tie breakers do you think should be used?
Thanks to both of you for agreeing to participate.
Comments from other people will be deleted until after the discussion when my readers can post their thoughts.
UPDATE: THIS ENTRY IS NOW OPEN FOR ANYONE TO COMMENT.