Decision 2018: Board Candidates on District Curriculum

What is the board’s role when it comes to curriculum changes?

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Monte Schmiege

That’s an interesting question because I have a different opinion on that. Some people will say that we need to leave that to the experts and I don’t necessarily believe that. If we had policies or some way to describe what curriculum should look like that would be one thing, but we really don’t. And things change so much that it is difficult to do that. I think the board’s role is oversight. But I worked with administration to update our policy to allow the board to approve standards and curriculum and this is modeled after what Green Bay does, as a matter of fact. And the board is also responsible by law and action in August to authorize a list of board-approved standards so there is a precedent of the board approving standards.  

Chris Zwygart

We employ curriculum experts who spend nearly all of their time analyzing the effects of curriculum and what curriculum changes may be beneficial. We need to take a hard listen to what these experts have to say. That way, we can make much more informed decisions as to what this district needs to benefit our students. I really think curriculum should not become a creature of politics. I’m not saying that curriculum is, was, or will be a political football, but we need to listen to the experts, and of course the teachers and students who work with this material daily. As for standardized testing, it can be very beneficial. It helps teachers visualize what they need to turn their focus on in their education strategy. It can prove to be stressful for some students and I recognize that opt-outs are a good thing for some students and their parents who feel they don’t need to know. The standardized testing in some situations can be a necessary thing to compare our district’s performance with others in Wisconsin and I think that’s an important student and teacher performance marker.

Kurt Rebholz

Being a business professional speaking in percentages, I think 95% plus of the curriculum offered is a great curriculum. Both my kids have had great coursework, it seems even whether you’re college driven, or non-college driven. I know Metalcraft in Mayville just donated robotic machinery for those going into that field, which is a wonderful career. To me, I think the curriculum has been outstanding. On the testing… not every test is perfect. I think the people actually doing the tests and the people administering the test, their voices should be heard for recommendations for what to do different. I know Common Core you can’t change, that’s directed by the state of Wisconsin. West Bend has no say, the school board doesn’t have any say in whether they can do that or not, so they have to follow state statutes. Those are some of my thoughts. I feel it’s a great curriculum, but yes, get input from students and teachers on what things need to be changed. The board should support advanced course curriculums along with trades education to set West Bend apart as a state leader in education.  We are among the leaders now–let’s continue this mission and passion to attract more students and families to move to the district and community. I’m a common sense business leader that wants to support and enhance student, teacher, administrator and community teamwork.

Mary Weigand

The board should overlook what kids are learning and the standards they are held up to. I want to look at what kids are reading in English language arts class. I want to make sure kids are reading books that teach lessons, including the classics. I also think we should get rid of Common Core and introduce new standards that push kids to learn more. We need to look at a new curriculum fitting those standards. As Common Core comes in, our standards go down, and it becomes more touchy-feely. It’s not so much this is what happened, and this is when it happened, and this is what the context is of what it happened in. We’re getting away from that, and it’s troubling. It might even be Jimmy Kimmel where people go up to kids in the street and ask them questions, and they agree with what the president or whoever says. Kids don’t know facts like who our president is, who the vice president is. They don’t even know the process of how people get into office. They can’t back it up with any historical context when looking at things that are going on. Kids want to know the context of why something happened. Kids want to learn. I know they do, I talk to kids. They want to know what happened, but things are being dumbed down and I’m concerned about that. The school board now has the opportunity to approve curriculum which is new. The school board has to look at curriculum before it’s approved. They’re not micromanaging, they’re just saying yes this looks great, or no, let’s find something else. They’re looking at it because the community wants representation, and I hear that when I’m out talking to people. I hear parents who are upset about what their kids are learning, and they feel like their kids aren’t being challenged. If I get elected to the board, I want this context of what is going on in the classes and what the kids feel about it. Tests aligned to Common Core are potentially a dumbed down test. Kids are overtested, and there is an unhealthy obsession with test scores. I know that’s because that’s what everybody looks at, but you have to somehow measure how well the teaching is going and how much kids are learning. Kids get burned out with testing. I’m glad parents can opt their kids out of some standardized testing. Kids should be learning just because it’s really awesome to learn these things. All the stress and pressure put on kids becomes unhealthy. With too much testing, the joy of learning starts to fade. The love for learning is very important to instill in kids. These tests scare kids in a way. How the curriculum is taught, and the love for learning is really important for our kids.

Interviews by Current reporters Abby Gawrych, Andrew Jung, Grace Peplinski and Priyanka Trivedi. Responses are listed in the order that the candidates will appear on the April 3 ballot.

Read more about the candidates at The Current, including their backgrounds and their thoughts about budgeting priorities and why they chose to run

Click on each name to see their official campaign sites: Monte Schmiege, Chris Zwygart, Kurt Rebholz and Mary Weigand.

 

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