PA	
  
	
  
School Board
1. Why do you want to serve on the Durham Public School Board of Education?
What is the role of a...
Collaborative, with emphasis on similar experience
Through collaboration with the search firm, the Board needs to assess t...
Are we looking for every opportunity to lift non-teaching tasks from the
teachers to the Central Office? We should.
4. How...
6. Does DPS need to make changes to its school suspension policy? If so,
what changes would you work for as a Board Member...
Trust teachers. Give parents choices. Give all students a chance for school
success.
8. What is your opinion about school ...
being asked to teach themselves often in challenging situations. Gracious
teachers who sacrifice hours after school tutori...
• Worked in marketing and financial business roles both in international and
domestic contexts.
• Studied abroad in an His...
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Jimmy Doster 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire

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Jimmy Doster, candidate for Durham School Board of Education District 2, 2014 People's Alliance PAC Questionnaire

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Jimmy Doster 2014 PA-PAC Questionnaire

  1. 1. PA     School Board 1. Why do you want to serve on the Durham Public School Board of Education? What is the role of a board member? Durham is my home. My church home, The Summit Church, and family are here. The economy matters to me. Schools often weigh heavily in a family’s decision where to live. Durham Public Schools should be a reason why people associated with the Triangle’s universities and businesses choose to live here, and why more companies should want to locate here in Durham. Right now this is not often the case. As a School Board member, I will offer to partner with our business community, other educational institutions, and state and local governments in an effort to make improvements in our performance and reputation. The “achievement gap” matters to me. A top priority is dramatically improving the educational achievements of our students, specifically economically challenged students. While many social factors contribute to this achievement gap, the Board can play a vital role—in our decisions and our tone. “Pushing kids through” is not helpful to students, their future, and our community. An unshakeable commitment to student achievement is needed. This commitment must begin at the Board and cascade through the administration, teachers, parents, students, and community. We can and should do better in this area. High-achievers in academics, athletics, and the arts matter to me. A Durham Public School teacher told me of his concern that some high- achievers plateau after being conditioned to think that exchanging their potential for mediocrity is okay. This leads to attitudes of “just passing” or “doing as little as possible to get an A”, which is not in the best interest of the student, their future, and our community. Teachers and parents should identify high-achieving students; encourage and build them up, while helping others become high-achievers, too. 2. The board will be involved in the hiring of a new superintendent. What should the search process look like? What qualities should the successful candidate possess?
  2. 2. Collaborative, with emphasis on similar experience Through collaboration with the search firm, the Board needs to assess the skills and experience the candidates have. Given the achievement gaps so widely discussed, I believe that the best candidates will have experience in a school system with the socioeconomic characteristics similar to those found here in Durham. Financial management, literacy, community outreach While financial management competency is necessary in the superintendent’s position, it is equally important that our new superintendent have significant experience in dealing with low achievement scores, especially in reading, and in building community support for the schools and their effort to bring all our children to the proper level of education they need for their future. Deliberative process including all stakeholders The superintendent selection process needs to allow adequate time for deliberation that includes all relevant stakeholders: administrators, parents, teachers, community representatives, and new school board members. The superintendent has a significant impact on the success of our schools and school children. Working through the process and listening to the needs of the group will result in a timely execution of this important selection. 3. How should teachers and administrators be evaluated? Are the current state standards effective? Teachers must be respected as educators and professionals. Like other professionals, teachers will progress through appropriate evaluation throughout their careers and be expected to continue their professional development. At the same time it is the responsibility of the school system to provide them with appropriate feedback, mentoring and coaching. The system must provide significant professional development opportunities for our teachers. Implementation matters. Let teachers teach—no busy work. My experience in the professional world has been that most standards, whether they be for evaluation or otherwise, will work if properly implemented with meaningful involvement by all levels of management. Process is key. Our School Board members should attend meetings of the Durham Association of Educators. Are we holding regular office hours?
  3. 3. Are we looking for every opportunity to lift non-teaching tasks from the teachers to the Central Office? We should. 4. How should students be assessed? What role should standardized tests play in evaluating students? Tests are not everything. Tests are a tool. Standardized tests, properly used should be a tool for helping insure each student receives high standards of education. We should use them to assess needs so that we may better serve them. Take for instance the new requirement regarding third grade End-of-Grade tests. By accepting that reading becomes the essential skill to continue learning, we need to put in place programs that insure our kids can read. Empowering schools to provide this skill is necessary since there are too many students who do not pass these tests the first time around. Again, “Pushing kids through” is not helpful. Balanced and better evaluations Focus on standardized tests should not result in squashing the creativity and ingenuity of a child. Of course, standardized tests must be balanced with other types of evaluations. For instance, a child may not pass the reading test, but that does not tell us what method will work best to get him or her to read. That is the craft of teaching, which we all acknowledge. Just as in every other profession, practice in your field is required beyond formal or book learning. This is why retention of experienced and successful teachers is a key ingredient to improving our schools. 5. In spite of the introduction of magnet schools, it appears that Durham Public Schools have become increasingly segregated by socioeconomic status and race. What are your thoughts on this situation? As I alluded to above, this is a key priority. As our schools increase student achievement and the Board and Superintendent lead the campaign to make the community aware of our success, then more parents from diverse socioeconomic statuses will choose to enroll their kids in our schools. As together we work on those improvements, I will not advocate mandating where parents send their kids. I believe in maximizing parental choice. We must understand why many parents believe that the best choice for their child is an alternative to Durham Public Schools. At the same time we must develop educational solutions that address the school population we have now while working towards a better future.
  4. 4. 6. Does DPS need to make changes to its school suspension policy? If so, what changes would you work for as a Board Member? Yes, and first we need to understand the data. Durham Public Schools is working on changing its school suspension policy. Four community meetings were held late last year, but I have not yet seen a report. Also, we have not seen DPS data on what the reasons are for suspension, such as fighting, late for school, absences etc. To develop a new policy, analyzing and understanding this data is essential. High and consistent standards for student behavior Disciplinary methods and standards should be applied consistently to all students. I believe we should remediate student behavior at the school level, not by sending students home (unless there is a known safety issue). For those that must be sent home for out-of-school suspensions, soon, it will be feasible to use alternative methods of learning such as E- Learning so the suspended student can use time at home or at a public library to “virtually” attend school. Upon returning to school, he/she will not be behind in their work. In all cases, learning from community best practices is important, for example, observing successes at institutions such as the YMCA could lead to alternatives in out-of-school suspensions. Ultimately, more rules and policies won’t solve the central issue, which is the character of the individual. As leaders, we need to lead by example. As a community we need to be supportive. 7. What is your opinion about the Charter School movement? I respect the concerns raised regarding charter schools. With that said… Maximize choices for parents. Learning best practices through competitive benchmarking is a principle that I support. Choice provides an incentive for parents to learn about different school options and get involved in their child’s education. Our School Board can learn from the Charter School system, and vice versa. We need to trust teachers and what they think is best for their classroom; therefore I advocate for less regulation from the state government, leading to more opportunity for alternative methods of instructions, classroom organization, and restructuring course sequence.
  5. 5. Trust teachers. Give parents choices. Give all students a chance for school success. 8. What is your opinion about school vouchers? Injunction Since there has been an injunction on the Opportunity Scholarship Program, I will review the voucher program when it is appropriate. At this time the courts have their foot on the brakes. Philosophically consistent Public money is currently given for preschool programs. Public money is given for private higher education in the form of grants. Therefore, it is philosophically inconsistent to be for preschool and higher education but against K-12 by saying it “takes money away from public schools”. However… Help people reach across aisle …Being a unifier and not a divider, as a School Board member I will stand with those who want to meet in the middle and support means-tested, targeted vouchers for low income families that cannot afford the best school option the parents determined for their child. My vision is that parents will choose Durham Public Schools as the best school option for their children. Let’s rally around this vision. By working together, we can make our local schools the best choice for our kids. 9. As a board member how would you lead the decisions addressing the needs of the students who are at risk for low achievement and dropping out? Early childhood education is foundational—preschool and kindergarten teachers are often unsung heroes. At this time I will thank my Pre-K teacher Mrs. Evilsizer J First, this must start with parents either teaching their 3-5 year olds themselves or giving excellent pre-kindergarten teachers the privilege of doing so. The learning gap that exists in 1st grade must change. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Second, we must find ways to train and retain our teachers with the best track records for achievement with at-risk youth, including incentives. Third, we must consider the effect that homework to be completed outside of school can increase the low-achievement risk for some children, as they are
  6. 6. being asked to teach themselves often in challenging situations. Gracious teachers who sacrifice hours after school tutoring students is a partial remedy. In addition, a DPS mother of two told me, “After-school daycare programs should be less about play (video games, etc), and more about helping students practice what they learned during the day.” 10. Why do you think that parents choose to take their children out of the public schools in Durham or don’t choose them at all? How would you address this issue? Parents want the best for their kids and some have decided that, for their kids, DPS is not the best choice. It goes a step further—some people decide to leave Durham County, or choose to never move to Durham in the first place. Hence, our economy suffers. Durham is the home of two great universities, a vibrant downtown, and sits adjacent to the nationally famous Research Triangle Park. My vision is for everyone working in or near Durham will choose to live in Durham and send their kids to DPS. I have staked my home here and plan to raise my kids here. DPS will be great for them, and right now I want DPS to be great for you—that’s my vision. 11. If you could do three things to improve Durham Public Schools, what would they be? 1) Work with the Board to ensure that DPS is defined by all the successful and innovative programs and results achieved by our hardworking administrators, teachers, parents, and students. We must have a louder voice than the naysayers. 2) Increase the number of children in high-quality, pre-kindergarten classes. 3) Retain and recruit excellent teachers, with great emphasis on professional development. The future can be bright. I am optimistic and excited about what Durham Public Schools can become. I look forward to being a part of it. Vote Jimmy D. “D” is for Durham. Personal Information 12. Please describe your educational background, noting any degrees and honors you have earned. (skip if resume included) • Distinguished college graduate from The Ohio State University, BS Business Admin, Marketing specialization. 3.9/4.0 major GPA. • From start to finish, I graduated in less than 3 years.
  7. 7. • Worked in marketing and financial business roles both in international and domestic contexts. • Studied abroad in an Hispanic culture. • Top-performing Senior Project Case Competition winner. 13. Do you have children? Where do they or did they attend school? Durham is my home. My church is here. I plan to marry here. I plan to raise our children here and send them to DPS. 14. Please describe your adult employment history (skip if resume included)   Since college graduation, I work for a hybrid advisory firm as a Business Analyst. I’ve happily served my community by co-leading a 6:15am high school Bible Study for high school students in Durham and working in The Summit Church Kids program. LinkedIn.com/in/JimmyDoster -- JimmyDoster.com Twitter.com/JimmyDoster Facebook.com/VoteJimmyD (919) 809-9890

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