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Ed Scott Running for School Board

Breaking News

The post below the row of stars to follow was written by Ed Scott, candidate for Ward Seven School Commissioner. I appreciate guest posts like this very much. It’s less work for me. Thanks Ed.

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Hello Haik, Hope you had a good break and happy new year. I’ve filed my petition, written a My Turn criticizing the budget process that should be in soon (don’t take it personally–also have copied my correspondence to board members to you), have had an announcement in North Ave News, and now I am taking you up on your offer to use your blog to say why I want to run. I appreciate this as I cannot afford to place ads, etc., and I am becoming more and more committed as I see Machiavelli at work such as the travesty that is the decision about after school program–that never should have gotten off the ground in the first place! Thanks

Why I am running from Ward 7 for the Burlington School Board

Thank you, Haik, for offering to let me use your blog to state why I am running for the school board.

Sixteen years ago, in 1994, I moved from the Northeast Kingdom where I had been a teacher and guidance counselor, to Burlington to take a job as guidance director at Burlington High School . Surprisingly, the rural union high school I left was state-of-the-art in many ways, but to my surprise when I got to Burlington, I found the guidance department I was taking over was still operating in the paper age, and the high school was entrenched in outmoded practices; teachers, not the administration, not the school board, were running the school.

Before the first bell rang on my first school day, tedious paper add/drop procedures so long in place, went out the window as I found it was possible to computerize such things. But other issues that elicited my ideas for change were often met with, “The teachers will never go for that.” While I can attest that the guidance department has been transformed, delivery of services continues to be outmoded and unsuccessful for a large number of students. Scores on the NECAP tests are low, and 15% of students do not make it to graduation. This information is on the department of education website for anyone interested.

I am retired now and have a 9-year-old, who with her friends, is closing in on middle school. I feel I must to do more than critique from the sidelines but to get involved in the decision making. With my background I can make meaningful contributions about how instruction can be improved. I have ideas about how to replace the current structure of leveling that puts a ceiling on academic and personal growth with a teaching model that is student centered and reflects individual differences. As a former teacher who likes kids and wants the best for them, I can be their voice.

Generally, we have a good school system with many successes. Acknowledging these as well as problems is important. However, like many voters, I am often suspicious of how decisions are made. Just recently, for example, the final decision was made about how to restructure the after school program. You can read about it in Haik’s blog, but quite frankly, the way the process worked out was Machiavellian. Now a BSD employee is the site director at Smith, Susan Carter and her sister have lesser, part time roles, just as was proposed last year. Our rep on the committee, Shireen Hart, voted no, but it happened anyway. I feel an obligation to be involved in these matters from the beginning so that perhaps I can help hold off such ill-advised, unfair decisions before they get off the ground.

I have held offices and community positions before where I lived in Derby , VT. Town moderator, community mental health board member, boy scouts committee, little league, always actively involved. I am a veteran who served as a helicopter pilot in Korea and Vietnam . Currently I am a guardian ad litem in Chittenden Superior Court. I am a good team player.

I believe I have the background, the ideas, and the energy to contribute meaningfully to the school board, and I hope you support me. Thank you. And thank you, Haik.

9 comments

1 Overpaid Teacher { 01.09.11 at 12:19 pm }

A lot has changed in the last 16 years Ed. Stop in and see us sometime – you might be surprised. There has been much turnover since you’ve been gone – many changes as well. Neither the school board, administration, nor teachers solely “run the school” as you suggest. We try to work collaboratively to do what is best for kids. But I will say, most of the time, the teacher in the classroom knows best.

2 ed scott { 01.10.11 at 8:25 am }

Dear Ovepaid: A lot has changed, but not enough. One look at class sizes and the emphasis on college prep at the expense of lower levels shows that BHS is years behind every other school in Chit County. Kids are tracked out of middle school, an out dated practice that fails to recognize that some students mature more slowly than others. No other school has honors freshmen classes. I could go on and on; the teachers are still to be held responsible for these archaic, unfair practices. BTW, who are you?

3 Carol { 01.10.11 at 11:57 am }

Ed,
No other school has honors freshmen classes? What about Essex? (Links to Honors classes in their 9th Grade Core Curriculum on their website.)

The danger in electing someone who thinks he knows what it’s all about, because he worked at BHS 16 years ago, is that perhaps, he isn’t current on what’s happening at BHS today. Take away honors classes and AP classes, and good luck getting those families to enroll their kids. Good luck having diversity in the school, unless diversity means only color. Should a public education mean only teaching at the minimum level? It seems like that is what you are advocating. I hope you’ll write back and tell me that I misunderstand what your goal is.

4 ed scott { 01.10.11 at 1:52 pm }

You do misunderstand. But You’re right about Essex. CVU is hetero, MMU has no honors at freshman level, Colchester has a team taught, humanities class using differentiated instruction as a teaching model, for example. Who is advocating taking away honors and AP? Not I. But do we need 14? CVU has 8. When over 40 students dropped out of the class of 2009 (most recent on dept of ed website), something is wrong. What BHS’s college prep program does is cap student growth–once tracked, it’s nearly impossible to move up. I know. I do not advocate teaching at the minimum level, that’s not what differentiated instruction is about, that I advocate. It’s about enabling every student to reach his/her potential without hobbling them with tracking. I think I keyed into your fear that I advocate dumbing down, but I suggest you check out online what other schools are doing as well as differentiated instruction. Incidentally, I think some big changes are coming to BHS. Stay tuned.

5 ed scott { 01.10.11 at 1:54 pm }

ps. Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to explain.

6 Overpaid Teacher { 01.12.11 at 5:49 pm }

Kids at BHS are placed in classes that best meet their needs. If you want to call that tracking, fine. A lot of work goes into student placement each year. Teachers take the recommendation process very seriously. The fact is that kids at BHS are working at VERY different levels for VERY different reasons. There is a lot of research that shows that differentiated instruction works and there’s equally as much research that say it is does not. Talk to some parents (high achievers) in Colchester and get their opinion of DI before concluding that it’s the solution to all our problems at BHS. It is not. Even in a DI class structure, tracking and ability grouping still occurs. The fact is that BHS has a very small number of honors classes and a very small number of low-achievement classes compared to the so-called “regular track.” Most students are working in this regular track. To mix these students with our honors group would be a mistake in most subject areas (math and science especially). Believe me, the students working at the honors level are so far (exponentially far) ahead of their peers that it makes almost no sense to group them in any other way. If we do decide to go to DI exclusively, you can watch the mass exodus of kids head to Rice.

7 ed { 01.15.11 at 8:01 pm }

Not exclusively, and not in math and science at all, and not in the upper grades. Elementary, middle, with transition into 9th. That makes sense from my experience in managing the 8-9 transition at EMS and BHS.

8 gini { 01.20.11 at 10:45 am }

Hi Ed,
Although I don’t agree with all of your ideas, I admire your passion and your willingness to take on the daunting job of school commisioner. It’s nice to see someone stepping up to try to put their ideas into action. Good luck!

9 ed { 01.20.11 at 11:04 am }

Gini: Thank you. Through this process I have learned a lot. No one should go into a job like this with absolutes in mind. These are very complicated issues.

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