Brock calls education his passion
Editor’s note: This is second in a series of two articles in which candidates for the Eagle County school board answer questions about challenges and problems facing the district.Eagle resident Vern Brock, who is running against Mary Ann Stavney for the Eagle seat – District D – on the Eagle County School Board to replace the outgoing president, Barbara Schierkolk, is no stranger to the education system.Brock graduated from Eagle Valley High School, and says he wants to give back to the community that provided him with the best education. Brock now is the town engineer for Eagle. But, he says, education is his passion, and making the education system the best it can be and better is one of his goals if he wins the Eagle seat.1. The Teacher Assessment Program, or TAP, was designed to link merit pay with advanced performance, combining increased accountability and professional development for teachers. What is your take on TAP?The Teacher Advancement Program is one step in the direction of meeting two goals: 1) Most Americans think teachers aren’t paid enough and 2) parents want public schools to raise student achievement.With these two paradigms, there is political pressure for accountability through assessment. I agree with 1 & 2 above, but we need to remember that parent and community involvement in students’ lives plays an equal rolein accountability with the teacher.2. The school district has strived to maintain an 80 percent proficiency when it comes to the Colorado Student Assessment Program tests. What recommendations would you make in order to meet that 80 percent proficiency?The Board adopted TAP in 2002 to achieve a higher proficiency in assessments, and I recommend that the program be closely monitored and modified and improved if it does not produce the intended results.I respect the views of the teachers in making changes to the program. I emphasize patience to allow the instructional leaders of mentors and masters to better define their role in this equation of success.3. This November, the school district is asking voters to approve a tax increase that would replace an old debt. What are your thoughts about the increase and how do you think it will help or hinder the district?3) That tax – Referendum 3A – is a pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later funding request for $8.6 million that will protect the district’s investment of approximately $4 million in bus value, over $100 million in school valuation, and upgrade of 2,000 computers and information systems.The tax also extends the life of the 27-year-old administration building.4. Student achievement is one of the most important parts of a student’s success rate but there has been an achievement gap between Hispanics and non-Hispanic students. How do you plan to address the gap problem?This problem is nationwide and not unique to Eagle County. I support the “No Child Left Behind Act” approved by Congress, as it requires that every public school classroom be staffed by a fully certified teacher by the beginning of the 2005-2006 school year.5. What areas of the school district do you think needs the most attention and why?Areas of the school district needing attention:- The Gifted & Talented Program needs continued evaluation and an improvement plan. This group of talented students should not be left behind.- The area of teacher to mentor/master collaboration needs emphasis because of the vital role they play in improving student achievement.- Testing procedures for Spanish-speaking students under current student-assessment guidelines are producing skewed classroom and school-test results. This issue needs to be addressed at the district and state level.