Observer Newspapers Questionnaire

OBSERVER MEDIA GROUP 2014 CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE
Manatee School Board

• NAME: Charlie Kennedy

• AGE: 44

• FAMILY: Single

• EDUCATION: B.A., Political Science, Univ. Of Pittsburgh ‘94
M.A., Social Studies Education, Duquesne University ‘03

• OCCUPATION: Teacher, Manatee High School

What specific skills or experience do you have that qualifies you more than your opponent to serve as a member of the Manatee County School Board? I have been a high school teacher for the past ten years. Our school board needs the voice and experience of an educator who knows the challenges of today’s students and teachers. Our board also needs an independent voice that has no connections to the factions and special interests that currently make our school board dysfunctional. For more details, please see my website – charliekennedy.org

What do you like about the new Florida State Standards? What don’t you like about them? While I think it is a noble ideal to have similar standards among all states to properly measure student progress and success, decisions about education have historically been made at the local level. I believe it should remain as such – under state and local control.

What do you see as the most crucial challenges that will face the school board in the next two years, and how would you propose these challenges be addressed? There are three challenges to the school board must address in the future. 1. Rebuilding trust between the community and the school board. Solution: transparency of actions and community input into all major school board decisions. 2. Rebuilding trust between school district employees and their central leadership. Solution: incentivizing teachers and staff to earn bonus pay for educational gains, positive performance reviews and developing new and imaginative curriculum. 3. Improving the educational outcomes of our most vulnerable populations. Solution: move people and resources into Pre-K and elementary schools, especially schools with large at-risk populations.

What is your position on:
Charter Schools? I think charter schools are a great idea so long as they are within the publicly funded school system. Many students would see immediate and long-term benefits from specialty charters (arts, technical skills, science, etc). It would also not only be satisfying for parents to have choices but also give a better educational experience for students.
Vouchers? Bad idea. Public money being diverted to private, for-profit and/or religious schools undermines the basic tenets of publically provided and equal education for all.

Would you support adding a one-mill school property tax like Sarasota County to provide additional funding? I would support it but I wouldn’t push for it. The citizens of Manatee County will not vote for, or support in any way, a tax increase. Therefore, we need to plan and budget within our current tax rates.

What is your vision for the Manatee County School District? By devoting resources and talented school employees to early childhood education we will see returns on those investments for many years to come. Manatee County’s ranking among Florida counties will rise into the top 10%. We’ll become a state leader in reading, math and science. We will be financially responsible which will lead to better credit worthiness and respect of the community. In addition, the entire community is improved by the economic benefits of investments in early childhood education, as demonstrated by multiple economists who have studied and documented this trend.

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