Beytien points out importance of equity [Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA)]
(Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Craig Beytien Age: 53 Occupation: Publishing consultant Native of: Overland Park, Kan. Family: Wife, Alyson; three sons, ages 22, 21, 20 Volunteer: President of Dubuque Rotary Club and Dubuque Teachers Credit Union; director of Keystone Area Education Agency Board of Directors; member of the city of Dubuque's Long Range Planning Commission; and elder at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day SaintsQuestion: What is a major issue facing the school district?
Answer: We have growth on the West Side and demographics that we need to take care with, relative to the way our population is stratified across the community. We need equity in terms of the educational experience. I suspect one of the things we're going to have to look closely at is what is that balance and how do we achieve equity in a way that ensures that every student has an opportunity to learn and to succeed. The way kids learn today is different than how they learned in the past. They're much more visual, they're more kinesthetic and they want to be engaged and interacted with. The traditional stand and deliver model of education is not proving effective. I think our teachers know that. I think that they are eager to evolve the way that they teach, to adapt to the way students learn and that includes engaging technology in a way that we haven't in the past. The biggest challenge is not just funding for what is the infrastructure needs and the technology needs, but ensuring that our teachers have training and the professional development they need to be successful.
Question: What is your proudest board moment? What is a board regret?
Answer: The recognition and the need to change leadership. I'm one of seven, have no more power than what the board itself can wield, but as board president (at the time when former Superintendent Larie Godinez ultimately resigned) there holds a special responsibility to lead the charge and set forth the evidence necessary to begin the change of command. I felt that that process was done respectfully. It was certainly done legally and appropriately. One of the chief responsibilities of the school board is to ensure there is appropriate leadership. At that time we did not have that. So it fell to me and the board to rectify that situation. I'm proud of the fact that we did it with respect, we did it with care and then we set forth a plan ... to choose a new superintendent, and all evidence would suggest that we made the right choice. As an adjunct to that, what was needed in order to better manage the superintendent was a strategic plan. That's the second thing I'm most proud of in the last few years. As board president we set forth a framework for a strategic plan that we ultimately adopted and it has become a benchmark for which we can evaluate the superintendent. I wish we perhaps would have recognized some of the situations with leadership earlier. No real regrets. I stand by every vote. I stand by every decision.
Question: How should teacher performance be measured?
Answer: Everyone has to create that solution otherwise you're not going to have buy-in and acceptance on the basic premise. When we evaluate students we agree upon a rubric. We need a rubric that is fair, that doesn't simply rely on one or two observations any more than it would rely on simply the grades of the students or the performance of the student in the classroom. The diversity of student ability within an individual classroom has to become a factor. How much have those students grown individually as opposed to some single number of advancement or achievement. In order for there to be an actionable, workable model, teachers, administrators and the DEA (Dubuque Education Association) have to work together and devise a model that everybody feels comfortable with that is accurate, fair and ultimately usable.
Question: What differentiates you from the other candidates?
Answer: I'm very willing to see both sides. I think everyone is fairly fair within our group, but if you would ask my colleagues about me they would say Craig's fair, he would give hearing to all sides before making a decision, he's not one to rush to judgment. I bring 30-some years in publishing and education so I have some knowledge in things that are relevant to everything from curriculum to development to the kinds of materials that we're evaluating now for use in our schools. I'm involved greatly within the community. I spend a lot of time doing community service and that gives me insight because I'm interfacing with so many different facets of our community. I'm fairly good at reading what the community wants and needs and that's reflected in my votes and my attitude.
Question: What is an educational weakness in the district?
Answer: A weakness would be too strong of a word. I will say that a significant part of the educational experience is the extracurricular activities. As a matter of fact, I want to erase the word extracurricular from our vocabulary. I consider athletics, chess team, Spanish club cocurricular activities. They are a part of the learning process. When I reflect on my own experience in high school and middle school, it wasn't just the courses I took and the grades, it was the theater program, it was forensics, it was debate, it was the tennis team. It was the involvement in other things that taught me to work with other people, to collaborate on a team, to be involved, to have common interest with other people. More and more if you talk to college recruiters, it's not just the academic profiles they're looking for, they're looking for someone who has outside interests, who pursued them and who is more well-rounded. What we owe our kids is an opportunity for them to have a well- rounded experience.
Question: What is an educational strength in the district?
Answer: If you look at the numbers outside of what No Child Left Behind reports, you'll see we have consistently increased the performance of student achievement. Has it been to the level in all areas that we like it to be? No. It's never going to be perfect, but you have to look beyond what NCLB actually says. It upsets me every time I see School in Need of Assistance or District in Need of Assistance because we're at a point now where the rubric is so end- loaded that I can't imagine that 90 percent of the schools in the United States aren't going to be Schools in Need of Assistance. People are kind of looking past that finally as an indicator, and they're looking at what is the real achievement of our kids year to year, cohort data, child to child.
Question: How do you feel about the number of construction projects this summer?
Answer: Two years ago, when we really sat down and looked at that 10-year plan we said we need to be thinking ahead of the curve and not simply reacting to the needs of buildings as they fall apart from use. We knew that the front end of this was going to look heavy, but there were so many things that needed to be attended to. Because of the favorable bonding opportunities and the lower construction rates, it made sense to start these projects now. There were conversations at the staff level and with the board: "Are we spreading ourselves too thin?" There were probably a couple other things we could have done, but we said let's stage these a little bit. The 1-cent sales tax allows us to do things that otherwise we would not have the capacity of doing. I think that has served us well, and we're using those monies responsibly. I have no regrets about spending the money we're spending, ensuring our buildings are the best they can be to help support learning.
Question: How do you feel about the city and district analyzing the feasibility of an indoor aquatic center?
Answer: I was at the very first meeting with (City Manager) Mike Van Milligen, Mayor Roy Buol and Superintendent Stan Rheingans where we sat down and had those very first conversations as board president. The opportunity to collaborate with the city on a project is a positive thing. Now, it may turn out depending on the feasibility study and the nature of what they determine they need and what we need, there may not be a connection and we need to be prepared for that possibility. I'm hopeful that we can create something that is greater than the sum of the parts. We need a competition pool with a diving space that is the right length and right depth for our kids, because we're not going to continue to throw money down at the hole that resides at Hempstead (High School) currently. It doesn't make financial sense. I'm hopeful, I'm positive that we can figure out a balance between what will be serving the community and serving the schools. We're a river community. We ought to have a world class aquatic center that can be used by our schools and by the general public.
Question: What did you love about school? What did you hate?
Answer: I had a great senior year. I just remember it being a time of excitement and anticipation. I really came into my own in terms of someone who could communicate well. It was the friends, some of whom I still have lifelong friendships, the activities and the whole atmosphere. It was hopeful and fun and positive. I didn't like study hall. It was too passive for me. I like to be moving and doing things. I was very efficient, I would get my homework done before. For me, it was like a wasted hour and I'd usually get myself in trouble because I was trying to interact with others."
Question: In the past 10 elections, you didn't vote in the September 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007 elections and the February 2009 instructional support levy election. Why?
Answer: I became much more politically active after I came to Dubuque. You get every candidate here in spades. That's exciting. You feel like a part of the process. Just being part of that process and seeing that process played out, I just got much more interested. When I first got here, I had three children in crisis so my attention was really about IEPs (individualized education programs) and spending time dealing with teachers in the classroom. I was also in a new job. My attention was very much with what my family needed at that time.
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