The AJC asked Kira Willis, state school superintendent candidate, her views on four issues. (Her answers are part of a Sunday/Monday package in the AJC.)
1. How would you manage a mandated 10 percent cut in education spending?
2. How will you restore public confidence in test results?
3. Do you support vouchers for public education?
4. Do you support pay for performance for teachers?
1. Since the inception of No Child Left Behind, administrative positions have grown dramatically in systems across the state, particularly in the larger counties.
These positions, seemingly accountable to no one, have little or no contact with students and usurp funds that should be going directly to the schools. There is too much bloat in county administrative offices.
Let’s eliminate these positions and move to biannual tests for our elementary and middle school students.
We will save ourselves at least 10 percent, money that should go to our students.
2. Eliminating many of the tests that are administered to our children saves money and anxiety for our students and teachers.
The average 11th grader is tested 11 times. The governor vetoed the bill that eliminated first and second grade testing, and the frenzy continues; however our students still rank last in graduation rates.
How is it that most of our children pass all of these tests, but only 50 percent of them graduate from high school? I will deliver real, raw data to the public, not “funny numbers” that make us look like we are doing better than we actually are. It promotes a false sense of security not only for our students but also for our communities and state.
3. In order for our schools to fully meet the needs of our students, we must offer our children choices. I do not support vouchers. What I do support are tax credits for families that wish to home school or send their children to private school.
I also support school choice. Vouchers mean another department within the DOE created to decide who receives a choice and who does not. A simple tax credit eliminates the need for a voucher department. School choice allows a free market in education and creates competition between schools.
4. Competition between teachers is a very different matter. Pay for Performance, or Merit Pay, eliminates collegiality within the teaching profession. Today, teachers share best practices. Pay for performance negates any type of sharing the practices that enrich student learning. I propose that schools simply relieve poor teachers and administrators of their duties.