Twenty Two and Counting…
I thought it might be interesting to check in with one of America’s youngest public school district governing board members, LCUSD’s Andrew Blumenfeld upon the completion of his first year serving on the board.
During a rare break from the continuous jet-setting between Princeton, New Jersey and La Canada Flintridge, I was able to sit down with Mr. Blumenfeld.
As reported in the La Canada Outlook recently, Andrew racked up over 100,000 airline miles over the past year. When asked about what he would consider the highlights of 2012, he immediately blurted out “Extending Wendy Sinnette’s contract.” No argument here! Another goal realized was the implementation of the parent surveys to help the administration gain insight into the pulse of the community on a variety of issues. One other issue he mentioned was the successful effort to stop proposed legislation AB5. “It demonstrated how the Board can play a role in getting the community active.” “We were so pleased how the Board was able to help the community to become plugged into what the Legislature is doing.”
The only low point he could recall was dealing with the fall-out from the teacher collaboration days. Andrew described his first year as generally a steep learning curve, but a terrific experience.
One Year Goals
Mr. Blumenfeld’s one year goals can be summed up in Mrs. Sinnette’s 18 goals. The Governing Board and Mrs. Sinnette arrived at 18 specific goals for the year. More specifically Andrew spoke to the issue of teacher tenure: “We will be deciding on teacher tenure this year with a lot more information than we have been able to in the past.” “This year the process will be dramatically improved from ones in the past that will include student assessment data and parent surveys.”
Longer Term Goals
Let’s talk five year goals: “I would like to be in a place with technology where we are measuring the success at the level of the individual child rather than at the aggregate level.” “Use of things like surveys, every-student-succeeds plans, as well as tracking software that follows students in college.” “Our whole way of how we are evaluating the contribution the teachers are making in the classroom.” “We know that we have stellar teachers, but we now have new ways to verify that we have the best teachers and have ways to reward them for this contribution. Andrew cites the New Haven, CT school district as one that LCUSD may seek to duplicate some aspects of their contract. Andrew also cited the Las Vergines School District and their merit-based pay component.
I asked Andrew if he was able to apply what he was learning in the college classroom directly to LCUSD and he responded “Yes, between the things in school that I am learning and by keeping up with what’s going on around the country with different research.” “When it comes to education, the sky is the limit because there is a lot of exciting and interesting things out there.”
When summing up his first year he went on to say “I was surprised at the speed of change by which we were able to incorporate some of the changes including the new communications initiatives.” “Sometimes bureaucracy can bog things down, but the Board was able to work together in conjunction with Mrs. Sinnette and make rapid changes IE: Governing Board Newsletter, District-wide survey and routine e-mails alerting folks about the Governing Board meetings.”
I did have to ask what it was like working with colleagues more than twice his age? “When our new term started we met as a board for five 3+ hour meetings and really got on the same page with each other. I have never felt that I have been treated any differently because of my age.”
When asked about how he felt about the La Canada Flintridge Educational Foundation, Andrew said ”The Foundation is like the bedrock of this community and is one of the organizations that makes it possible for La Canada to continue to offer the highest level public education anywhere.” “The Governing Board can’t thank the Foundation enough!”
Andrew is currently a senior majoring in Sociology and Education at Princeton University. There is a light at the end of the tunnel with graduation coming up in May. Andrew will be teaching for the prestigious “Teach for America” program for two years in Los Angeles. “I can’t wait to be living in one place!”
What words on the page do not convey is the absolute enthusiasm for which Mr. Blumenfeld speaks so eloquently about all things related to public education. Thanks for your service to our community and good luck with your last semester at Princeton!
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