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Alameda County, CA February 7, 2012 Election
Smart Voter

Answers to Questions posed by Piedmonter 1.3.12

By Sarah Pearson

Candidate for Board of Education Member; City of Piedmont

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1. Should the board amend its policies to allow grandchildren of Piedmont residents to attend Piedmont schools?

A change like this would require careful study to determine whether there is in fact extra capacity at Piedmont schools and how many grandchildren this might involve. The board would need to ensure that such a change would not be a financial burden on the district, and also that it could be executed fairly. I am interested in learning more but need detailed information to make an informed decision.

2. Aside from the "Every 15 Minutes" anti-drunk driving program, what more can the district do to stem the use of alcohol by students?

As a pediatrician and a founding member of the Wellness Center at Piedmont High School, this topic is extremely important to me. At the schools, we can build on the 7th grade unit about alcohol and drugs by incorporating this information into the curriculum on a regular basis through 12th grade. Teachers, administrators, school sports coaches and Piedmont police must work together and will need the support of parents if we are to be successful in reducing our teens' use of alcohol and drugs.

3. The law mandating a pro-gay curriculum in California schools to teach children about the roles and contributions of homosexuals went into effect this month. What are your views on this legislation?

The new law, called the FAIR Education Act, adds LGBT people and people with disabilities to an existing statute that requires California schools to teach about the contributions of women, ethnic minorities, and other underrepresented groups. The legislation leaves it to local schools to decide how to implement the requirement. I am confident that Piedmont schools can successfully achieve the law's objectives, which are to increase tolerance, understanding and the need for mutual respect among all students.

4. Is the district managing its money wisely or not? Give two examples.

While it is critical that we continually look for ways to use our funds more efficiently, I do believe that the district is managing its funds wisely. For example, our current budget was designed conservatively, so the recent mid-year cuts in state funding will not affect this year's educational program. Also, skillful negotiations have allowed for cost sharing between taxpayer contributions, parent donations and teacher concessions.

5. Are Piedmont students pushed too hard to achieve?

Many kids feel pressured in academics and sports, but my sense is that the pressure comes more from parents, peers, society and the kids themselves, rather than from the schools. I don't think our students should be pushed to achieve but rather motivated to excel. I want our schools to nurture curiosity and inspire a love of learning through a rigorous and engaging curriculum taught by top notch educators.

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