Differences add up at forumLooking ahead to the next five years, candidates for Red Wing School Board outlined their goals — should they be elected.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Looking ahead to the next five years, candidates for Red Wing School Board outlined their goals — should they be elected.
Incumbent Paul Kramp said his target boils down to one word: excellence.
“That’s our goal and that’s our objective,” he said.
Wacouta resident Ray Bronson said he envisions Red Wing being the No. 1 district in its peer group and in the state’s top quartile.
For Red Wing resident Steve Anderson, the goal is “continued improvement.” He said standardized testing scores and student success would be the benchmarks.
The candidates presented those — and many other — ideas Wednesday at a League of Women Voters forum at City Hall.
The fourth School Board candidate, Red Wing resident Emily Baldwin, did not attend. Organizers said she was out of town on a work-related trip.
Candidates fielded numerous questions submitted by community members, including one probing their support for standardized testing.
The tests — which measure students’ proficiency in math, reading and science — are “a necessary evil,” Anderson said. Still, he lamented how the system can steer educators toward “teaching to the test ... rather than teaching for understanding.”
Bronson said the tests can be revealing, noting that results have shown Red Wing students falling behind in math proficiency as they move on in school.
“It’s an important variable,” Bronson said of testing as an assessment tool.
Kramp also worried about whether the focus on testing produces a “teaching to the test” approach.
“I think there’s a danger to that,” he said.
The candidates found some room for agreement: all three said they would support the state’s Q Comp merit-pay system for teachers, would be open to public-private partnerships and would encourage greater outreach for parental involvement.
But when asked to identify the biggest problem facing the district, each candidate presented different examples.
Funding issues topped Bronson’s list, saying he would form a task force to evaluate Red Wing’s funding-to-achievement ratio against other districts.
“It is our problem and we have to solve our problem,” he said.
Anderson also identified funding as a key issue, but said he would work to tackle it on the state side.
The state’s education finance formula presents funding disparities between districts, he said.
“Sometimes that’s not such a great idea,” Anderson said.
Candidates also were asked what qualities they would like to see in the next district superintendent, following Supt. Stan Slessor’s recent announcement that he will retire in June.
Kramp said Slessor’s successor must be a community leader, good communicator and strong staff leader.
“It’s a very difficult position,” he said. “You’ve almost got to be a super-man or a super-woman.”
Bronson went a step further.
“Being a superintendent is the hardest job I can think of that’s on this earth,” he said.
He called for the next superintendent to be a proven leader with a passion “to make our schools absolutely the best in the state.”
Anderson said he would look for a visionary with leadership, passion and strong communication skills.
“It’s important to have someone who can look to the future and plan ahead,” he said.