Monday, October 27, 2014

2014 AAPS Board Candidate: Jeffery Harrold

Read more about Jeffery Harrold at

Staff morale has been an issue in the school district. How do you think the board should monitor and respond to staff morale issues, if at all? Given that the majority of district staff are teachers, should teachers be treated differently (better OR worse) than other staff people in the district?

I think that all district employees should be treated with dignity and respect. Where there are still bargaining units, I would like to see someone in central administration with the responsibility to regularly meet with the union representatives to get feedback and work together to address mutual concerns and opportunities. Where bargaining units are not in place, there should be a regular system of receiving feedback from employees and a defined process for responding to problems and ideas submitted by employees for improvement and innovation in their work area and the district at large.

What is your position on the amount of standardized testing currently conducted by AAPS (Too much, just right, too little)? What is your attitude toward parents opting out their students from standardized tests that are not state-mandated? What is your attitude toward parents opting out their students from standardized tests that are state-mandated?
Currently AAPS may be engaging in too much standardized testing.  Students are being asked to take multiple standardized tests, but it seems so much testing is going on that teachers do not have time to make good use of the information from the tests to positively impact student learning.  They take away a lot of time from classroom instruction and for many children (and adults) they are a source of anxiety. Parents have the right to opt their students out of standardized tests, whether state mandated or not.  It is important for parents to talk with their child's teacher about their decision to do so.  It is also important for parents to understand the impact their decisions have on schools.  Ultimately, parents must make the decision they think best for their children, especially if they feel their children are being harmed by the testing.

Aside from the budget, what are your two top priorities for the Ann Arbor schools?

I want to focus renewed attention to the achievement gap. This will involve listening to students, and parents about their experiences, successes and failures in our schools,. It will also require that we engage in dialogue with teachers, administrators, and support staff to gain their perception of the barriers to student success. Utilizing this feedback and research on best practices for achieving student success, we can then engage in courageous conversations between all parties to find a solution that fits our community.

I would also like to see us adopt the “Solutions not Suspension” pledge advocated by the Student Advocacy Center and adopt the Model Code of Conduct passed this summer by the State Board of Education. The policy "strongly urges school districts to review existing zero tolerance policies and to adopt practices that allow educators to address disciplinary matters as opportunities for learning instead of punishment." (

What is your opinion regarding the annexation by AAPS of the Whitmore Lake school system? If you had to vote today, how would you vote? What's good about the annexation and what challenges do you anticipate if the annexation is approved?

I am opposed to the annexation of Whitmore Lake. I do not think we have guarantees from the state to match the current projection for per pupil allowance nor do we know we will receive reimbursement for the complete cost of the transition. If the Whitmore Lake student population is not growing, annexing it will not provide new revenue. In addition, there has not been sufficient time to discuss what will be done to bring the Whitmore Lake schools in line with the racial balance we seek for our current schools.

Hindsight is perfect, but whether you are an incumbent, or not: Name one decision that the school board made in the last six months that you think was a very good decision; and name one
decision that the school board made in the last six months that you wish had been decided differently. (Incumbents may wish to say how they voted on that issue. It's ok if you changed your mind after the fact...)

I think the District made very good decisions in closing schools in a timely manner in response to the extreme cold weather this past winter. I think it made a poor decision in the decision to privatize custodial services. 

Assuming that you are elected, name one or two other board candidates that you would like to see serve beside you, and explain why.

The field has a variety of talented candidates. It would be difficult for me to narrow my answer to two.

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