Board of Education Candidate – Paulette Anders

Responses to The Tentacle April Questionnaire

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Image Courtesy Paulette Anders
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You may recall in April of this year The Tentacle sent out a questionnaire to all the Board of Education candidates with 19 questions.  When Mrs. Anders became an official candidate for the BoE we extended her the same courtesy.  Sue Johnson was the only candidate who responded then and Paulette Anders responds very timely now.  

The questions and answers are provided in their entirety below.

1. According to Frederick County Public Schools there is a systemic race issue in our schools where minority students are unfairly targeted by administrators and staff.  Do you agree? If so what local statistics and facts do you have to back up that belief?

Systemic racism? No.  However, I do believe there are individual acts of racism that, most likely, need to be addressed accordingly.   I have not reviewed the local statistics at this juncture; but looking forward to doing my due diligence as a Board of Education member.

2. Do you believe there is a gang problem in our schools?  If you do, what steps would you take to ensure the safety of all students? If you do not believe there is an issue, why not?

Yes, schools are a reflection of our community, so if we have gangs in our town, there will be gangs in the schools.  Sheriff Jenkins and the SROs have been taking an active stance in partnering with our schools and the community to provide information and communication to parents/guardians to recognize warning signs and provide counseling.  I hope to see the partnership between our SROs, the schools, and the community be continued as they have been crucial to the safety and security of our schools. And maybe these bonds can start to build bridges.

Image Courtesy Paulette Anders

3. There are conflicting reports regarding “restorative justice” practices and their impact on school safety.  What is your opinion?  

Restorative justice is referring to bringing all parties together to try to encourage the peace process.  This helps in some situations and harms in others.  Justice has to be relative to the circumstance. 

4. Were you aware that FCPS does not have a specific reading program to teach beginning readers?  Would you change this, and why?

Yes, I am aware that FCPS does not have a specific reading program. I believe one way to address gaps in achievement is to start with a quality scientifically based structured literacy program.  Learning to read starts the foundation for academic success

5. In June of 2017 the Board of Education adopted Policy 443 “Creating Welcoming and Affirming Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.”  This policy allows boys to enter the bathrooms and locker rooms of girls as well compete on the sports of those traditionally set aside for girls.  Do you support this policy?  Why? 

I am not a proponent of boys entering the locker rooms of girls as it infringes on privacy rights. In addition, in my opinion, boys competing on teams traditionally set aside for girls may create an unfair advantage in certain sports.  I do believe there are alternative options to provide transgender and gender non-conforming with appropriate bathroom and locker room facilities.

6.  What is the purpose of Title IX protections in academic settings? 

The purpose of Title IX is to help make education settings safer with regards to harassment, sexual violence and bullying.

7.  What power over local education do you believe a Board of Education has? 

Local Boards must follow Federal Education law, COMAR, and policies set for by the Maryland State Board of Education.   The Board sets local policy, oversees all budget and finances, hires superintendent, and holds her/him accountable, sets curriculum, and approves strategic planning, mission and staffing models.  The FCPS BOE did not reopen schools when Governor Hogan urged them to do so. This shows that the BOE is willing to take a stand in certain cases but not stand up for over-testing, changes in curriculum they disagree with, etc.

8.  Why is it necessary for each county to have a Board separate from the State?

Each county in MD should have their own BOE because schools best serve their students when they are under local control.  The State Board often creates policies or mandates that may impact Frederick County in a different way than other school districts.  Each system should have the flexibility to implement the policy in a way that fits their system the best while also being compliant.  And the community has an opportunity to impact and influence the direction of their schools every two years at the ballot box.

9.  Please list in order your priorities in education.

  1. 1.         Advocate for getting students safely back to school (in person
  2. learning, obviously a very current priority)
  3. 2.         Be an independent voice for parents and students
  4. 3.         Support learners with challenges and underserved students

10.  Do you believe political ideology belongs in elementary classrooms? 

Policy 314 prohibits teachers from bringing political ideology into the classroom.  I support this policy.

11.  Do you believe 13 & 14 year old’s should be instructed on how to use condoms, dental dams and taught about anal sex? 

13 & 14 year old’s are at a pivotal time in their development and therefore each is at their own point of emotional, physical and mental maturity.  I am not a supporter of a sex education curriculum that assumes that all students are at certain point in their lives. I am not a fan of the “opt out” program, I would rather have an “opt in” program.   An “opt in” program, in my opinion, would be more likely to encourage parents/guardians to explore the curriculum and give parents a little more control.

12.  Who has more authority over students, parents or school administrators?

 Parents

13.   How do you feel about a line item budget?

I support a line item budget.  There is a lot of information regarding individual schools but more details from the central office should be accessible. 50% of the county budget is spent on education; therefore, I believe citizens should be able to review how their taxes are being spent.

14.  What is your opinion on school vouchers?

I support school choice and school vouchers either through direct payment or tax credit.

15.  Should members of the Board of Education communicate in their official capacity on their personal social media accounts?  Should they be able to block constituents if they do?

I do not think members of the Board of Education should communicate in official capacity on their personal social media accounts. This answers the second question, if they are not using their social media accounts in an official capacity, they can block people from their personal social media lives.

16.  Should the Board negotiate in the teacher’s contract the ability to fire inadequate teachers?

I believe that teachers are one of the most important catalysts to student success, and sometimes, THE most important.  Therefore, how can you justify keeping inadequate teachers? A personal improvement plan (PIP) should be quickly implemented and with measurable objectives.  If this PIP does not work, the teacher should be removed and not relocated to another school or administration.  There will always be some excellent teachers that may have personality or teaching style differences than that of a student – there should be a checks and balances system to prevent such a teacher from being removed.

17.  Do you think teacher salaries should be capped? 

I do think teachers and administration (school and central offices) salaries should be capped. The focus should be rising the salaries at the lower end of the scale.  I advocate dollar amount increases as percentages benefit the top salary earners.

18.  Should the Superintendent’s salary increase every time the teachers’ and staff salaries increase?  If yes, why?

Since the current superintendent was hired, the BOE has made great strides in the position’s compensation. The FCPS superintendent’s salary is no longer at the bottom of the list in Maryland.  However, I recognize that the FCPS superintendent is essentially the CEO of the largest employer in the county.  As such, I would like to see a bonus plan implemented should certain metrics be met as put forth by the BOE. In addition, if salary increases were based on a dollar amount rather than a percentage, lower wage earners within the system would receive the greatest benefit.

19.  Do students have enough free, unstructured play and recess during the school day?

Historically, I don’t think students have had enough unstructured play and recess time. It will be interesting to see how the pandemic impacts play time – there could more outside play to provide mask breaks and/or so students are interacting in a more safe manner or there may be less unstructured play time because schools will need to provide so much more instruction time to make-up for the achievement gaps that will inevitably occur across all populations of students as a result of long-term virtual learning. Furthermore, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated in the past: “Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. “In essence, recess should be considered a child’s personal time, and it should not be withheld for academic or punitive reasons.”

Information on Paulette Anders can be found on her Facebook page here.

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