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Candidates Stress Quality Education

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Quality education for all students was the major goal listed by the nine Ann Arbor school board candidates who spokc Thursday night at Pioneer High school. Slightly more than 100 persons attended the meeting. Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) Council President Frank Warren, commenting on the size of the audience, asked: "Just how concerned is the Ann Arbor community about its school board?" There were only 60 persons at the first PTO candidates' night, he said. Fifteen-year-old Sonia Yaco, Human Rights Party (HRP) candidate, was present but was not allowed to speak as a caudidate following a vote of 24 to 35 that she remain in the audience. According to the PTO Council format the audience at each candidates' night is deciding whether she should speak, although several HRP members said later that the vote was unfair since there was lio discussion over the matter and some peoplc didn't vote. Miss Yaco was not accepted as being eligible for candidacy by the school administration since she is not of legal age to run. She has taken the issue to court. Questions concerning the recent investigaron of Mildred Bautista, former ass'si&nt to the superintendent, were not given to the candidates for discussion, according to a PTO council spokesman. All questions for the candidates had to be written. Duririg the candidates' speeches, each stressed the importance of equal opportunity in the schools and called for an end to racial and sexual discrimination. They also all addressed the issues of the fir.ancial responsibility of the board to provine quality programs within a balanced budget, teaching of the basic skills and improving relations between tfce administration and the teachers and the need for library services. However, candidates' views differed on busing for racial balance, students' rights, the community high school and tracking in the schools. Following are sketches of what the candidates said: Gretchen Groth Wilson "As an HRP candidate I represent and am committed to the platform of the grc.up which emphasizes community coitrol," she said. Students, teachers and parents, she added, should all have decision-making power at the board level so that all interests would be protected and students would have the same rights as adults. She also said that a woman should be on the board to protect the concerns of vomen and to help elimínate sexism in the school system. The present board was criticized by Mrs. Wilson for its budgeting of funds. She said: "The board may know what were spending our tax money for but the public doesn't." Although there have been numerous discussions over quality education, Mrs. Wilson said, at this point there have teen nc actual plans for implementation. She also said there would be no quality education until the community was actually involved in decision-making. Lettie Wickliff Lettie Wickliff said that as a former teacher she was concerned about teachers ge.tting the support and help that they needed. "If teachers are dissatisfied it will affect how they teach our children. The administration should listen to the teachers who feel ignored and don't have the opportunity to voice their differences or get the help they may need." According to Mrs. Wickliff it is the board's responsibility to assure that every child has the opportunity to learn. She said she does not support busing for racial balance since she feels that it implies that blacks are intellectually inferior to white children. "It's what is at the end of the bus trip that is important and it's a f allacy that black children must be with white children in order to receive a quality education," she said. Cecil Warner An incumbent school board member seeking re-election, Cecil Warner sáid that due to grave financial problems in the schools he has requested an ad hoc committee for the board consisting of parents, teachers and specialists to "examine, determine and establish a means of providing optimum programs within the restricted budget." "The main responsibility of the schools is to teach reading, writing and arithmetic and assure that the student learns," he said. He also stressed vocational guidance for all students so they can find their interests and aptitudes and work in areas that allow them to experience these fields. "It is also necessary that students study the multi-ethnic concerns and contributions of all cultures to our society and world," said Warner. He supported the middle school and community high school concepts and indicated he feit there would be improvement in discipline with these programs. According to Warner, the responsibility of the board is to establish policy, appropriate funds and monitor costs. He said it is not its responsibility to be involved in administrative matters." That's why we hire a superintendent," he said. Terry Martin Terry Martin said that as an Ann Arbor parent she has watched the "quality of education go steadily downhill, while the taxes go steadily upward." "The schools should provide all students with the practical skills," she said. "Instead of just stressing self-identity, the individual abilities, talent and motivation of students should be emphasized." Mrs. Martin said tbat she was in favor of tracking because if the system is going to produce exceptional individuals then they cannot be brought down to the 1 o w e s t common denominator. Every child should be challenged as to his own capabilities for an equal educational opportunity, she said. In discussing the middle school and community high school she said that the district had moved too far too fast and that the high schools are already overcrowded and that the community high school promises more than can be delivered. She also spoke against busing for racial balance saying it hasn't achieved anything according to studies and it is wrong to say that black children need to be with white children in order to learn. According to Mrs. Martin, a junior high student has no role at all in serving on the school board as a voting member since the student is not a taxpayer and is not responsible to the community as a whole. Henry Johnson "After three years on the board I feel that there are many unfinished tasks that should be continuel," said Henry Johnson, school board incumbent seeking re-election. "Most important is humaneness in education, which should be more than just a phrase." Johnson said he hoped that we can get our system to the point that humaneness means simply relating to people as human beings, not racially. He said this type of concern must begin at the top with the board. According to Johnson, the new administration has moved rapidly in new methods and techniques, but these things should be applied to the district as a whole and used to benefit the total school system. Students should be involved in decisión making in viable ways, said Johnson, since the focus of a school system should be on students. He also said that people must interact racially in order to have any type of multi-ethnic experience. Johnson also condemned the system of tracking as "an inherent evil." (Tracking involves the involuntary grouping of students according to intellectual levéis.) Curtís Holt The HRP platform has made a great impact on all the candidates, according to Curtis Holt, who said that each of their statements have now addressed the issues the HRP is concerned with. Holt said each candidate was more involved with condemning racism, sexism and supporting youth input than they had been at the onset of the campaign. The Board of Education was criticized by Holt for not assuming the kind of role he said it should have with the budget. He said the members were not aware or involved enough with their responsibility over funding for the schools. Holt was also critical of the new community high school, calling it "a dumping ground for students and teachers who could not get positions elsewhere in the system. Clarence Dukes The three main issues for the board, according to Clarence Dukes, are (next page please)