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|Political Philosophy for Stephen J Cole|
According to figures released by the NHUHSD there were approximately 2200 graduating seniors in Humboldt County in 2004 and about 1700 students in the Second Grade county wide. If this trend holds, there will be significant impacts on the school system and the NHUHSD in particular. Additionally, the high cost of housing is making it very hard for young families to live in Arcata. These two issues require attention now to avert a crisis in the years ahead.
Also, private schools are popular with a significant segment of our population, and in recent years we have witnessed the creation of charter schools. The NHUHSD itself has created 2 charter schools and an "alternative" day school along with other non-traditional learning options. All of this provides a large amount of diversity for students and their parents which I applaud. However, if fewer students are entering our school system, we will need to devise creative solutions to maintain a high quality educational experience for young people in the public school system.
Financing the operation of Arcata and McKinleyville High School has been challenging in recent years. The current school administrators and the school board have worked hard to stretch the dollars that are received. They have consolidated services with other school districts where possible and provided "out sourced" services to other districts which bring in revenue to the high school district and save money for the served districts. Funding the district has been accomplished in a professional manner even when the State makes adjustments in its funding levels midway through the school year. In order to meet the high probability of declining enrollment, planning must begin now to supplement the efforts that have already been made. Any number of options need to be explored including additional grant applications, alumni support, volunteers, advise and consent discussions with the teachers union, and a general awareness within the community at large. Ironically, one solution that should also be explored is the addition of one administrator whose job it is to develop additional funding sources and provide the expertise regarding new regulations that school districts are facing.
Please note that I am not being critical of the current school board or administrative personnel. The district has a benefited from a dedicated staff and the volunteer efforts of the folks who have serve on the school board. What I am saying is that those who will be elected to serve on the NHUHSD board will be under more pressure than past boards if and when declining enrollment and rising costs impact the district.
Future leaders and citizens need to be prepared as best as possible to fulfill their roles in our society. We live in a world that is becoming more interdependent by the day. Our future citizens need to be educated in a truly global fashion. I would like to be part of the effort to shape our public education system so we can open the eyes of our students to the cultures beyond our borders. Students not only need to be exposed to what the world has to offer them, but how the world can benefit from the role that they will play in life. Each student has abilities and interests that can be used to enrich their lives and ours. The more they are exposed to the world at large, the more options they have to explore. The more they know about the world, the better their decisions will be.
Suggested enhancements to the high school Curricula:
Continuation of a diversity of educational experiences. Keep the NHHSD charter schools and private schools well staffed and funded. Encourage efforts such as the Cedar Academy and the Arcata Arts Institute.
Expose students to a variety of career paths and provide experiences that will prepare them for the career of their choice. This would include courses for the 4 year college-bound student, courses for students who choose to attend a technical school or junior college after high school, and courses designed to encourage the student who has no plans for further education to at least consider that possibility. I believe in the value of "the trades", and if a student is inclined to become skilled laborer, craftsman, or technician, I believe that they should be encouraged to explore these possibilities.
Provide courses that expose students to the history and culture of countries around the world. The citizens of this country know very little about the countries on the African and Asian Continents and very little about the Middle East. These parts of the world are having a huge influence on the United States and future citizens will be making decisions regarding the role of the United States in these areas. Courses in this area could include some history, some exposure to customs and languages, and discussions of current events in those areas.
School Board Meetings:
I would suggest that the school board meetings be conducted in a more time efficient manner. The present school board consists of good, dedicated people, but I believe that the meetings last too long. After about 10:30pm, it is difficult if not impossible to have a meaningful discussion and make good decisions. If meetings must be 3 to 5 hours long, then there is a need for 2 meetings per month. But, if the meetings can be held in 2 to 3 hours by being more efficient with the time, that should be the goal. Public input during the meetings is imperative, but it must be done properly using time-limited public hearings. The use of consent agendas, summaries, and time limits for comments and all help to move a meeting along.
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 23, 2005 22:15
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