School District 51 District D race: Michael Z. Lowenstein
Michael Z. Lowenstein
■ Age: 75
■ Hometown: Alfred, N.Y.
■ Years in Grand Valley: 13
■ Past board/committee or education experience: Ph.D. in Chemistry, taught at Adams State College, visiting professor of civil engineering at CSU, Summer Engineering Fellow, NASA-Houston (two summers), education project manager for international solar project at SERI, workshop lecturer at University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, lecturer at numerous professional courses for the IEEE, 500 Plan reading tutor, Math & Science Center volunteer, School Safety Committee member, and District 51 substitute math and science teacher.
Q: Do you believe teachers should be paid based on their evaluations? If so, which qualities should be most important in the decision to boost someone’s pay?
A: If evaluations are based on student growth in the teacher’s class, then evaluations should serve as a portion of the determination of teachers’ pay. Observed performance should be an equal portion of the pay determination.
Q: Do teachers need more instructional autonomy or should they teach the same lessons as other teachers in the district?
A: Once the important curriculum is determined, then it should be taught by all teachers. However, one should not confuse curriculum with methods. Each teacher should have the autonomy to teach by the method that teacher finds to be most effective.
Q: Do you believe local students are performing well? As a board member, how would you hope to contribute to improving their performance in the classroom and on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program tests?
A: I do not believe that students are performing well. Performance in the classroom could be improved if greater discipline was present. Principals and teachers and the school board should agree on a plan of action for improving discipline and the board should make it clear that it will back the teachers in their discipline efforts. With greater discipline comes a better learning atmosphere and improved performance. I do not believe that the TCAP is necessarily the best test to show student performance and I will query the State about developing tests that measure what is important.
Q: Will you vote for Amendment 66? Why or why not?
A: Absolutely not. Several reasons out of many are: Analysis shows that the district might receive as much as 78 cents return on every dollar paid in taxes. Not a good return on investment. The best way to improve funding for the school district is to encourage the growth of new business. A higher income tax will certainly not make it likely that new business would want to move to Colorado. A time of financial difficulty for many of our citizens is not a proper time to raise taxes.
Q: Name an area where District 51 spends too much money. Also, are there any areas of the budget where the district should spend more?
A: Without a detailed analysis of the entire budget, I am not able to identify areas where too much money is spent. If there is any money that is not being profitably spent, the money should be shifted to areas that provide direct support for teaching and student learning, the two most important areas of the budget.
Q: Are you in favor of longer school days and/or a longer school year in D51? Why or why not?
A: There is no doubt that longer exposure to good teaching should improve student performance. However, both longer school days and longer school year require more money and money is in short supply. Rather than using these methods to provide more instructional time, we should examine the excessive reporting requirements, extra forms, extra meetings and duties that all take away from a teachers ability to prepare for class and also the actual time available for class. We should use the teaching time available more efficiently instead of adding more time to be used inefficiently.