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April 10, 1998     Jewish News
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April 10, 1998
 

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DIALOGUE Virginia Beach School Board Candidates for May 5 Election lection Day in Hampton Roads is May 5. The Community Relations Council of the United Jew- ish Federation of Tidewater, both in 1996 and this year, has taken a particular interest in the views of the candidates for the Virginia Beach School Board. This year, voters will select nine of the 11 members, and 18 individuals are seeking those seats. The CRC sent a survey to all announced candidates. Below are their responses. Those wishing more informa- tion may contact Betsy Karotkin at 671-1600, and be sure to vote on May 5 1. What are the biggest challenges facing our schools, and how would you address them? 2 In your view, has the U.S. Supreme Court gone too far in restricting the role of religion in public schools? Religious values are the foundation for the moral values we seek in our lives. How would you propose to promote these values in our schools without violating the First Amendment separation of church and state? 3. What are your views on school vouchers being used to pay a portion of .private school tuition? What are your views on charter schools? John H. McLaughlin 1. The two biggest challenges facing our schools are finding adequate funding and serving effectively an increasingly diverse population. These two issues are so intertwined that visionary leadership is required to meet the challenges. 2. The U.S. Supreme Court has gone way too far in its restrictions of religion in our schools. Within current guidelines, we need to emphasize responsible behavior and move away from the present trend of "making students feel good." We need to find ways of influencing youth positively within the community. 3. I believe that money should follow students, and the resulting competition for students will/mprove public education. Such a system has been used at the college level for years in Virginia. I support charter schools and encourage innovative and alternative approaches to educating our youth. 1. Two challenges demand resolution: deteriorating teacher morale and deteriorating relations between school board and city council, especially over budget, matters. Each problem, unless corrected, will have a direct and negative impact on education in Virginia Beach. With my Navy experience in human resources and personnel management, I am thoroughly qualified to identify and solve problems which hamper teacher morale so the teachers can concentrate on doing what they do best: teach our children. No one, inside or outside the school system, has. studied the budget more than I have. I have the expertise as well as the time to help develop a credible budget and work with city council to adopt it completely without contention. 2. Based on my experience, with a daughter about to complete twelve years of public education in Virginia Reach, if the parents are doing their job at home, it makes no difference ff the schools promote moral values or remain silent. If the parents are not doing their job at home, it still makes no difference if the schools teach moral values or remain silent. 3. I do not support vouchers. Charter schools are acceptable if by establishing them we can demonstrate a tangible gain to the school system Donald F. Bennis 1. A) Improve and implement a budget based on "needs" of the school system and based on the city's ability to fund same. B) Enhance curriculum and improve testing. C) Approve alternative education sites for disruptive students so that they can be removed from the regular classroom setting. 2. No. The school system needs to incorporate respect and tolerance for individual rights and beliefs and respect for property in its curriculum, perhaps by way of a course in citizenship. 3. Both arc questions that require action by the State Legislature. Although a charter schools bill has passed it has not been signed into law but I would have to take a close look at the provisions of the statute before deciding on a local option. The same can be said of school vouchers if passed by the legislature. 1. The problem of ignoring social skill development is the cause of unsafe school environments. Moreover, it reduces teaching and learning time. In short, it invades every aspect of childrens' academic and social lives. We can continue to throw money into studies and curriculum development, but how successful do you believe they can be if teachers are denied enough. teaching time because they are busy dealing with discipline problems. As long as we continue to ignore teaching social skills, we will continue to deny students knowledge necessary to create safer schools for them to become competitive in the job market. The usual administra choice is to seriously deal with cases only involve guns or drugs. Kids get the message that all other discipline problems are forgiven by default. Parents are withdrawing their kids at an alarming rate, forced to find an alternative. Discipline is important down town, but it is evidently not a priority - it i mine. Homeschooling has exploded from 500 students last year to 600 this year - a. shocking 20% increase over a single summer vacation. Each student withdrawn represents nearly $6,000 in government funds gone. Homeschoolers alone account for nearly $3.5 million. Add to that figure the several thousand students withdrawn to enter private schools. Imagine what we could do with those funds..We need to give students a moral compass. Years of conversations with parents, pupils and teachers have helped me to develop a star plan with 5 points. *Why are students of expensive private schools the only ones who benefit from uniforms? Let public school students look respectable and they will adjust their manners to rise to the occasion. Research shows that uniforms have 3 significant factors: 1) grades and self-esteem improve, 2)violence and discipline reduce, and 3)parents like it that they spend less on and argue less about clothes. *Every school needs a CITIZENSHIP PROGRAM to honor students who choose to demonstrate appropriate choices regarding classroom behavior and how they treat others. Our present systems pays more attention to the disruptors. Schools have shunned teaching morals because they link it to sanctioning a single religion. But most religions do share moral guidelines: charity, honesty, kindness, self-discipline. *Every school should provide a PEER MEDIATION PROGRAM that reflects the checks and balances systems of our larger society. Guidance counselors, trained in mediation techniques, can realistically deal with the large numbers of disruptive students that administrators are unable to handle. Mediation teaches students how to work through their anger and conflicts. We need to begin teaching these skills when children enter school. Early intervention increases the likelihood that they will achieve success. *Teachers must be authorized to REMOVE DISRUPTIVE STUDENTS from class - not forced to keep them in class. *Make administrators accountable by using numbered referrals just fike police officers must. 2. No. Religious values are the foundation for the moral values we seek in our lives. How would you propose to promote these values in our schools without violating the first amendment separation of church and state? The values common to the Judeo-Chriatian world are denied so many young minds and is precisely why I prese myself to the public as a candidate for School Board - to be an advocate for reform in this direction. The separation of church and state is to ensure that one religion is not allowed to overwhelm another, degrading those affiliated with the religion of the minority. However, some moral laws are generic to all religions - charity, honesty, respect, loyalty ..... Candle Lighting April 10/Nlesan 15 Eve of Pesach-Firat Seder Light candies at 7:15 p.m. April 11/Nlmmn 14 First Day of Peesch Light candles at 8:15 p.m. April 16/Nissan 20 Light candles at 7:20 p.m. April 17/Niuan 21 Light candles at 7:21 p.m. April 24/Nlssan 28 Light candles at 7:27 p.m. 3. This furor would never have been possible without the hostile situatiorL in public schools. Thus, we have a burgeoning parental community who choose to withdraw their children from the public schools in favor of the more disciplined and academic fortitude offered in private schools. Sadly, the frustration has forced many parents who cannot afford private school to homeschool. My moral support is with responsible parents who commit themselves to remedying a situation thus far ignored by school leadership. Until the problem of the lack of moral training is addressed, students will continue to be the ultimate victims of this situation. Dr. J. Henry McCoy, Jr. 1: Instructional values must be at the highest possible level. This means that attention has to focus on: A) Good teachers with adequate pay; B) Keeping classrooms as small as possible; C) Providing good, sound, basic curriculum, D) Providing for the technological training needed for the future; E) Upgrading old school buildings; and F) Providing the tools and equipment needed for modem learning. 2. Yes! I am one of the many that feel that classroom prayers should be restored: I feel that if the religions of the world can be taught in an objective manner without getting into the deep philosophies, it would at least give the young people a sense of importance for whatever faith they may choose. This can be a guide throughout their lives to live by moral standards. 3. I am not in favor of vouchers being used for private school tuition. I am not very warm to the charter school idea. Carol Bluestein 1. One of the biggest challenges facing our schools centers around budgetary constraints and how best to meet the needs of the greatest number of students with the resources available. We face a time where many of our schools arc in dire need of modernization and renovation. Old, crowded buildings with antiquated electrical systems are unable to accommodate the technological needs of today's students while staff members often lack adequate space, storage, phone lines or restrooms. I support parity among schools. Correcting these areas will be addressed through the comprehensive strategic planning that is underway and ongoing. School safety is a concern of mine. We need to develop effective ways such as constant vigilance and follow-up regarding any hints of potential violence taking place. Anonymous tip lines, visible and approachable administrators who have contact with students, and the "policeman in the school" program are ways to try to thwart off violence. I'd like to see video cameras placed in our high and possibly middle schools for more effective monitoring of students. Hopefully, corporate sponsors could assist with the expense of this initiative. I am a believer that it takes a whole village to raise a child and today's society is not meeting this challenge. Parental non-involvement is a problem; in some schools more than others. Parents need to realize that schools can't provide everything a child needs. Parents must be active participants in their child's education. I support early childhood intervention and education of parents by offering workshops and parenting classes. Another challenge is keeping students in school and graduating them. I support alternative educational opportunities for the non-traditional learner or disruptive student The state has increased the requirements for graduation, and while I applaud this, I'm concerned about the student who is not college bound, yet will have to meet the new requirements. They may not have time in their schedules to take technical job skills classes. We need to keep a watchful eye on this. 2. No. I don't feel that the U.S. Supreme Court has gone too far in restricting the role of religion in public schools. While I believe that religious values contribute to the moral values we seek in our lives, public schools are not the appropriate forum for religious teachings. Public schools serve children from all religions and walks of life and there is no way a school could effectively teach religious beliefs that would pertain to everyone. I do see a way thdt schools could promote moral values through history lessons which extol the values and morals of great men and women from our past. I also am in favor of promoting citizenship and character education across the curriculum. 3. I do not support the use of school vouchers to pay a portion of private school tuition. Public money should be used to foster and provide for the education of all children in a public setting. I do not support charter schools, however know that our state has sanctioned a potential of twoin each locality, so we may indeed have a charter school proposed for Virginia Beach in the next few years, My main concern about them is that they may become an elite school for the rich. With stringent admission policies and close watch for discrimination of any kind, perhaps they could work, however I'd CONTINUED ON PAGE 11 WINNER OF 16 VIRGINIA AND 24 NATIONAL PRESS AWARDS SOUTHEASTERN VIRGINIA EWISH NEW.' 5G29 orporale Woods Drivo, Su 225 Vir0inta lleach, Viria 23462.4376 (757) 671-1600 Fax (757) 671o7615 e-fnd ujflft.org David Brand .............................................. President Mark L. Goldstein ....................... Exec. Vice Pres. Annabel Sacks ................................ President Elect Reba Karp .................................................... FMitor Ahm Frleden ................................... ,rtce.President Mark Hlers ............................ production Manager Rormld Kramer ............................... Vice-President Hal Sacks ................................ Book Review Editor Toni Sandier .................................... Vice-President Stewart L. Smolder .............. 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