Santa Clara County, CA November 2, 1999 Election
Smart Voter

Political Philosophy for Katherine A. Rudolph

Candidate for
Governing Board Member; Palo Alto Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate

I. Students as Shareholders Having children take responsibility in the education process. The School Board should help children learn what it means to be students; that it is not a passive activity. Every teacher should know that his or her class is a group of active, engaged thinkers, creators, and problem solvers. S/he challenges them and expects the best out of every one, empowers his/her students to succeed, but does not do the work for them. We need parents to encourage their child's development of student responsibility. And we need administrators who facilitate the above.

II. Leveraging Silicon Valley Part 1 - Let's use the Internet to solve today's problems, not look for ways to include it just because it's there. We should be vigilant in our pressure on publishers to put textbooks online for children to access from home or anytime they are not at school. Having more children access information and homework online would free them from having to lug heavy books around many times a day. It would also extend the life of each book tremendously, cutting down on costs. Online access would not replace textbooks, but it could sure help when students forget their books at home or at school. It could also greatly expand the way students and teachers can interact with material.

Imagine this scenerio: A student goes home and logs on to the Internet to access her history reading and assignment, which her teacher has posted both in class and on her homepage. The student reads the material with the freedom to cut, paste, highlight, and directly reference the reading without any damage to the "book". She can answer the questions in her homework assignment, take a quiz, and submit her work. She doesn't have to worry about remembering to bring her book or her assignment in the morning. She's done! If she is interested, she can see tomorrow's discussion topic and view the calendar for upcoming assignments and tests. She can do this all within the context of her teacher's homepage, and all without a single piece of paper.

Part 2 - Learning lessons from start-ups Shoestring budgets, changing direction quickly if need be, assessing a lot of information and making smart, quick decisions.

Accessing the wealth of knowledge and the financial generosity of our district's leaders is not only a way to improve the functioning of the district by learning lessons and raising funds from them, but it also a way to build our knowledge base and a new kind of library for reference and use. Beyond providing texts and periodicals, our school libraries could truly become first-class institutions, where conferences, discussions, and creativity are as common-place as studying and reading.

III. Broadening Curriculum At all grade levels there is a tremendous opportunity to show students how different subjects have much in common. Through pilot programs, students could learn about subjects like English, History, and Foreign language beyond their traditional scopes. The programs would explore commonalities across the disciplines, to encourage more global thinking. This concept exists today, in pockets, at the high school level, but there is still much more we can do.

For example, as juniors, students could opt for a cluster of courses like: European History, French, and European Literature. In this cluster, teachers would work together to provide related discussion topics, a continuum, that would build upon the core material and provide more context and richness for learning. A similar cluster could be done with math and science. Calculus and Physics, for example, would be a natural cluster.

IV. U in Unified Part 1 - Getting Together A PAUSD student card would bring all parents and students in our district together under the umbrella of student activities. With this effort, we can support athletics, arts, extra-curricular academics, and clubs that all of our students enjoy at all grade levels. Booster clubs are still vital sources of support for our students and their activities, but we should make an effort to pool our resources and capture those donors (private and commercial) who may be more willing to contribute to a "general fund" that benefits the school district.

Part 2 - U in URL Let's use the Web to really provide useful information to parents, students, and teachers. Parents of students at different campuses should have a simple way to access the same data at different school sites.

V. Creativity We can be more creative in how we approach and educate our students. Children learn and are inspired in different ways. Beyond subject matter, is the how of education. Do kids love PE, because dodge ball is more interesting than algebra or because we present the subject of PE in a cooperative, team-building, success-oriented forum? We tend to think that recess and PE give the brain a rest from "academia", but there is a lot of decision-making and strategy going on. Art also evokes what is arguably the most valuable and least cultivated skill our children have - creativity. I challenge the district to look seriously at how to bring more creativity to every class and bring out creativity in every student.

VI. Changes in school population PAUSD has already taken steps to handle the recent increase in school population by hiring assistant principles and administrators at the junior high level, for example. Conservative initial measures like these have made sense so far as we gauge how much the increases and decreases affect the overall flow of the school day, quarter, and year. The good news about increases in student attendance is the relative increase in parent numbers. Schools should do as much as possible to leverage the parent population for assistance as often as possible, and certainly in times of increased student population.

I do believe, however, that we must and will move forward with more physical changes at the middle school level. The proposal to reclaim Garland as a sixth grade within the next year or two, and then to service sixth and seventh grades the following year is a good one. This plan will afford the district time to identify and begin (re)construction on a third middle school campus. That campus may come from Stanford, and if it does, it will be a wonderful opportunity for both the university and the district. However, that may not materialize (at all or not soon enough), and we will then need to look closer at Cubberley, Terman or another site.

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ca/scl Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 18, 1999 11:32
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