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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

RULE Survey: Emery School Board Candidate Christian Patz

Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE), a public community activist group that works for Emeryville resident empowerment, interviewed all four candidates running for the Emery School Board in the November 4th election.  Below, the Tattler presents the fourth in a four part series presenting the Emery School Board candidates participating in the RULE survey.  The four were highlighted in alphabetical order.

Emery School Board Candidate Christian Patz

Christian Patz is currently an Emery School Board member, having served since his June appointment, replacing former member Josh Simon. This will be Mr Patz' first time facing Emeryville voters.  The voters are to pick from three of the four candidates running.  Readers may peruse Mr Patz' candidate website HERE.  

Here are Christian Patz' answers to the RULE survey:

1)  What is your view of charter schools? How should the District respond to any applications it might receive to create a charter school within District boundaries?
My view of Charter Schools is not positive.  Overall I am against them, as they take away funding from traditional public schools.  Charter schools lack oversight of academics, finances, and administration. They pay teachers less (the average charter school teacher's salary is about $32,000 vs. the average traditional public school teacher's salary of about $34,700, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research report).  This can lead to higher staff turnover.  The biggest reason I am against Charter Schools is that they do not serve all students.  They can send a struggling student or student with an IEP [Individualized Education Program] back to their home school.  Traditional public schools cannot and do not do this.  It can be another blow to that student's morale and grades.  Traditional public schools serve all the students that live in their area, without regard to their status.
I would only support a charter school if it would be a benefit to Emery USD.  Most of the Charter schools in the East Bay do not.  Instead they pull students out of local schools and decrease the amount of available funds to serve kids.  Especially in a District as small as Emery's, it is hard to imagine a Charter school coming in that would benefit Emery.

2)  What, in your view, is the primary mission of the District?
The mission of public schools is to create lifelong learners that are ready for fulfilling lives and productive careers.  Schools help communities accomplish their collective goals and promote common good.  It is the most effective way to reduce inequalities and increase the number of responsible citizens.

3)  As an individual trustee, how would you want to interact with teachers? Would you want to meet with teachers as a group, individually, and if so, how frequently? Or would you primarily rely on the superintendent or public Board meetings to communicate with teachers?
Balance is critical; it is the role of the superintendent to meet with staff members on an ongoing basis.  As a Trustee, my role would be to listen to teachers when I am on campus and hear their individual voices.  I hope to talk with ETA [Emery Teachers Association] regularly to hear their collective voice.  I want to see not just hear what teachers are doing.  I want to hear their voice when ETA speaks, when the Superintendent speaks, and when the Board votes.

4)  What is the appropriate role of standardized tests? How would you use the scores? Should scores be used to evaluate the performance of administrators or teachers?
These are three very different questions.
  1. Standardized test are here to stay. America’s move to Common Core and smarter balance provide a vast improvement to the bubble and score tests of the pasts.  Testing is a federal mandate.  That means that public schools are in the testing business and will be held accountable for their scores.  The district cannot afford to lose out on Federal funds, so the roles of the tests are to ensure that the funds keep coming to help our students.
  2. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.  I wish I could use test scores to adjust the tests to ensure they are measuring what we want them to measure.  Barring that, we use the scores to assess how we as a district are doing.  If we find a pattern, we can focus our attention on how to improve in that area.  For example, when I co-taught biology, we used the STAR scores to identify a certain concept that the students were struggling to understand.  The whole science department brainstormed ways to improve the unit.  A hands-on lab was developed that demonstrated the concept.  Student scores improved, but more importantly, instruction and student understanding increased.
  3. Data used incorrectly is not only unhelpful but detrimental, so I do not support its use for teacher evaluations.  The data set is too limited and out of date.  For administrators, it is a different story. As data sets get larger, they provide a clearer picture of situations.  Schools will be judged on their test scores, so they have to be part of the equations.  The annual school climate survey is another tool for evaluating administration.

5)  In recent years the District has fired or reduced the hours of some staff in favor of outsourcing school services such as the breakfast and lunch programs. When is it appropriate to outsource an existing school service? What factors should guide these decisions?
Schools and government are inefficient by design.  The services they provide are too important and too ripe for corruption so they have to be done in a deliberate fashion.  The scope of work done by a $10 million dollar entity has to have a set of criteria for what can be done in house and what has to be outsourced.  The closest I can come to a guiding principle is: tasks done every day should be done in house and things done irregularly should be outsourced.

6)  What role should a Trustee play in District fund-raising from businesses, non-profits, and grant-making institutions?
This is not an area of strength of mine, so I would not be a good person to do it.  In a district of the size of Emery, they should be doing it.  This is something that can be outsourced.

7)  The District controls three properties. How should it allocate resources amongst these properties? Assuming the completion of the Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL) in 2016 and the use of the San Pablo Avenue site for K-12 instruction and administrative offices, what should the District do with the Anna Yates and Ralph Hawley sites?
I am still learning about the district plans and what are the options for the sites.  I attended one of the planning meetings and was not impressed with the choices presented.  When I am at Ralph Hawley, I ask myself, why are we renting space from Oakland when we could have classes here?  I clearly need more information, as I assume there are structural issues.  As a special education person, I would love to see the district house programs that benefit kids with unique needs.  It is a positive way to generate income and keep the sites focused on education.
8)  Should Emeryville schools receive contributions directly, or should they be managed by a third party?
Directly, I hate paying commissions

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