for school board Trustee, District G 2014
Student success is what I strive for, and positive change in student success is why I ask for your vote. When you cast your vote on election day, please consider my dedication to student success and my qualifications to help make this a better place to grow up.
As a first-term trustee seeking re-election, I hold and am running for a non-partisan office. One of my most important duties is to bring diverse individuals together in the pursuit of transformation in student success. I am also under some legal obligations and restrictions as an elected trustee. In this role, it is important that I not take a political stance on some of the issues with which our society is grappling, and it is important that I maintain an unwavering stand on certain issues that can make or break our opportunities for success in building a brighter future for our young people.
Here you will find my official positions as well as a transparent list of issues that I acknowledge are hot topics at this time, yet on which, to ensure my greatest effectiveness in bringing our community together for children, I take no political stance. You may find that most of my positions feel more like editorials than simple positions. The reason for this is that education is the business of human development. It is not simple.
Nevada must invest better in Kindergarten through 12th grade student education. Better investment means better use of resources at the school district level; transparency is an important driver of smart investing at the school district level. Transparency means we invest precisely in what works for student success, and we quickly abandon failed investments. Better investment also means that funding education becomes a higher priority for all Nevadans than it has been in the past.
Nevada students face stiffer odds against positive life outcomes than children in any other state in our nation, according to the annual Quality Counts "Chance for Success" ranking. Partners with the school district are vital in assisting students and families to remove obstacles to learning that may be inherent in challenges such as transiency, language barriers, poverty, and low parent education levels. The school district's partnerships are viable and sustainable when they synergize resources toward student success. The school district is not responsible to assist partners in accomplishing portions of their mission statements that are not in direct alignment with the school board's vision. Partner relationships are subject to memoranda of understanding and other formal agreements that must be available for public inspection.
Many individuals and organizations offer to partner with the school district in ways that would require school district funds to go to the "partner." For clarity and transparency, we must recognize that these propositions are for vendor relationships. In other words, while any service being purchased by the school district must of course be for the educational benefit of students, it is nonetheless a purchase. Whether an individual, a non-profit organization, a business, an educational service provider, or a consultant, any entity that receives funds from the school district in return for a service or product for its students is a vendor and is subject to procurement laws, policies, regulations, and accountability for a return on the investment.
Corporate Reform or Market-Based Reform
The education reform climate in our nation at this time is a high-energy storm that includes dangerous cross winds and hidden undercurrents, as well as opportunities to fill our sails and catch forward winds of unprecedented strength. Time-tested principles of leadership, and many of the smart business principles at the heart of high-performing organizations, are applicable in the education setting. Two important differences between the business of human development (which is the business in which schools engage) and the business of almost every other entity, are these: human development outcomes are much more complex, both to achieve and to measure, than the bottom line outcomes of some businesses, and extrinsic human performance principles, such as competition, that often work well in business settings are just as often inapplicable to a workforce of individuals whose primary sources of motivation are intrinsic. For these two reasons, many of the ideas and initiatives put forward by the corporate reform movement are failing and even causing reversals to prior progress toward student success in this nation. Most insidious are money-driven efforts toward "recovery school districts," vouchers, and various forms of takeover, i.e., removal of the democratic process and parent voice from local school and /or school district governance. The apparent calm that can sometimes immediately follow removal of parent and community voices is only a pent-up time delay of the eventual storm that makes such takeovers unstable and many of their gains unsustainable. Often, moneyed efforts to foist one or more of these three evils upon communities are couched in disingenuous student-centric-seeming language. On the other hand, there is good available for student success in today's stormy climate. Many of the ideas and much of the energy around the idea of education reform are being captured toward transformation in student success. As parents, educators, and community leaders, we can openly, thoughtfully, and collaboratively plumb the work and resources inherent in the storm that is today's reform movement, and incorporate appropriate ideas, individuals, partners, vendors and leadership principles into our own strategies for student success. We can make larger strides forward this way than we could were we to "duck and cover" and ignore the work that is being done and the resources that are available as part of this storm of reform. Of course, as in any storm, there is danger of capsizing. Our riggings must be unfailingly secure; in other words, nothing can take the place of children, even for a moment, at the center of our hearts, minds, vision, and decision-making.
Choice in Education
As families, we rightfully desire choices for our children. Traditional public schools, magnet schools, career and technical academies, charter schools, private schools, homeschools, and cooperatives, as well as educational competitive opportunities for students in robotics, bridge-building, marketing, computer programming, leadership, aeronautics, and other learning areas, can comprise a rich and healthy educational ecosystem for students and families in any community. All of these need to grow both in quality and number here in our community and across Nevada. Each needs to remain distinct, in order for our improving education ecosystem of choices to be truly diverse. Vouchers and other methods of getting public dollars into private schools endanger important distinctions, including those that allow private schools to show us what is possible when schools are more free of legislative mandates and federal-level interference. In a state as limited in education resources as Nevada, competition is not the key. The best way to grow a diverse and healthy educational ecosystem for our students and families is to work together, taking care not to duplicate efforts nor to muddy distinctions that make our growing educational ecosystem broad and rich. We must synergize: openly, transparently, and collaboratively.
Collective Bargaining in Education
Any relationship involving people's livelihoods and daily working conditions can be difficult to navigate toward win-win, and collective bargaining certainly is no exception. There is no guarantee, when contract negotiations begin, that students will come out winners in the end. At the same time, the power of collective bargaining to move positive change forward, at a transformative pace, is remarkable, as demonstrated right here in Nevada with the empowerment movement that can rightly be said to have lifted our community's sense of what is possible to new heights and can also be credited as a beginning movement in our school district's progress from being among the nation's fastest-growing school districts to being now among its fastest-improving by some measures. Collective bargaining in education is an asset in our community.
Implementation of the Common Core State Standards is proceeding rather dismally across our nation at this time. There is a sense of federal over-reach, loss of ability of communities to collaboratively strategize toward their own students' success, lack of necessary supports for the needed changes in teaching and learning activities, loss of parent and community voice, and evidence of possible blind spots in student data security. Nevada is proceeding more thoughtfully than many states, and is likely to succeed in using the best parts of the Common Core picture to achieve transformative student success. The decision at the state level to re-brand the Common Core State Standards as the Nevada Academic Content Standards was an excellent decision: It sends a message to the federal government about our intent to use the work that went into development of the standards for our students' own good, as we Nevadans see fit, and it builds the groundwork for any adaptations we will need to make to the standards in order for them to be useful tools toward our own students' success. Nevada's state superintendent is also more cognizant than most regarding student data security, and appropriate opportunities for parents to opt out, thanks in part to the fact that Nevada is a state that listens to parents. Another smart decision, also in response to parent, educator, and community voices, is the legislature's recent decision to delay the attachment of high stakes to Nevada's new educator evaluation framework, in favor of building its likelihood to generate improvement, development, and capacity building of educators. Less robust than other states, on the other hand, is Nevada's support for the needed changes in teaching and learning activities. Many other states and high-performing countries offer far more advanced teacher leadership and job-embedded capacity building opportunities and time for professional learning and student-success planning among teams of teachers in schools. Nevada can and should take advantage of the good for our students that the standards have to offer, readily and unceremoniously discard any pieces that are less than useful toward student success, and invest better in teacher leadership, useful data, accountability, and other teacher training and supports for our higher expectations for student success. Nevada should not go back to prior standards.
Bullying is real, in many forms, and it is wrong, in any form. Student-led work to build and maintain safe and respectful learning environments in our schools is very effective and very important. Partnerships with individuals and organizations that assist schools in building climates of kindness of respect are vital. These are not enough, however. Smart investment in resources and training that build the capacity of our educators to foster safe and respectful learning environments is smart investment in student success.
Our country needs to clarify the path to citizenship for all immigrants and stop being content with the fact that there are roadblocks in the way for many young people who grew up in immigrant homes and who want to earn a college degree and help make our nation and our world a better place.
There are better ways to foster student success.
Medically accurate, timely age-appropriate sex education, delivered to students in our schools only by well-trained teachers and health professionals authorized by law, policy and regulation, and only with informed parent consent, will help make this a great place to grow up. Good work is taking place across Nevada and here in our school district to improve open communication and planning regarding improved sex education content and delivery.
Parent Trigger Laws
Parent voice is imperative in positive change and continuous improvement. Some of the parent trigger laws passed in other states have had the consequence, whether simply unintended or deliberately and deceptively engineered, of actually removing parent voice in their children's school, by turning over the school to an organization that is less receptive and responsive to parents than the public school it once was. Nevada should be cautious in its approach to ideas like this that may sound like something other than what they really are.
The way our schools are perceived is as important to Nevada's economic development as will be our actual positive transformation in student success. If you are among the individuals, or if you belong to a group, that points out only the failures, and none of the victories nor momentum so far, please get to know the student success data better, and join us as we plan how to build on successes and eliminate investments that bring little or no impact on student success. Some people fear that if Nevada ever abandons its tendency to repeat the phrase "last in everything," the sense of urgency to transform our schools will somehow lessen, or the appetite to privatize or market-base everything will be undermined. To the former concern, I answer: Both the sense of urgency and our capacity to actually transform student success here require that we know, deeply, where our students really are, and that we build upon and invest better in what works toward student success, and both are also contingent on robust community collaboration. Regarding the latter concern, please see my positions on choice and on market-based reform. Another worry expressed by some people is that showing success in spite of Nevada's relatively low investment in education will undermine work toward a better investment in our schools. Again, if this is you, please get to know the student success data more deeply. You may find K-12 education as the investment with the highest positive impact and return of any investment Nevada has made in recent years. As we demonstrate, in the beginnings of student success, that transformation is indeed possible, we demonstrate a great reason to invest better. Now is the time to end all the various forms of rhetoric that demoralize students, families and educators, and that sabotage economic development.
A few hot topics on which I take no political stance as a currently serving school board trustee and candidate for re-election:
"The Education Initiative" 2014 Ballot Question
Affordable Care Act
Federal Tax Reform
Stem Cell Research
Please vote Cranor for Trustee, District G! You can assist me in my campaign by donating, by volunteering, by sharing your understanding of my commitment to student success with your friends and family, by respecting my need to remain politically neutral on some hot topics, and by alerting me to any topics that I have inadvertently left off of this page. If there is a topic you feel I should be taking a stand on as a candidate, that I did not address here, please let me know in an e-mail. My campaign e-mail address is ErinCranor2014@gmail.com. Thank you!
Erin Cranor stands for children.