I unequivocally and enthusiastically support Missy Bender for a second term on the Plano Independent School District Board of trustees. Usually when deciding who to vote for, I end up searching for the candidate that I find least objectionable. This case is different. Bender is exactly who I want to see on the school board.
Serving all children
Missy Bender appears to share my contention that certain aspects of the Texas implementation of No Child Left Behind is not fully compatible with PISD's mission of providing the best education to each child. She is an advocate of using annual progress for each child as a more meaningful measure than merely counting how many children meet some minimum standard. As she says on her website she is
especially proud of the school district's approach to tailoring instruction to each child.. This means that the gifted child and the child with learning disabilities will get the education that is appropriate for them.
This position is not as uncontroversial as it may seem when stated this way. We must remember that resources (time and money) is finite, and every dollar and hour spent one way is not spent some other way. Every resource that goes into providing the best for children who are not near the cusp of passing the TAKS diminishes PISD's chances of receiving higher state accountability ratings. To a significant degree, PISD is faced with a choice between concentrating on accountability ratings and providing the best education to all children.
Ideally there would be no conflict, but there is. Ms. Bender and the present board have been working to improve the accountability system so that it will not punish districts like Plano for doing what is right for our children. Some candidates may begrudge the effort that the school board puts into lobbying the Texas legislature, but both budget constraints and concerns as well as accountability issues cannot be addressed without working to prevent Austin from doing even more damage.
Competence, intelligence, and professionalism
The combination of legal, regulatory, financial and management issues that the Board has to cope with is daunting. A board member needs not only a solid grasp of the facts, but an understanding of how they interact. Bender demonstrates obvious intelligence and a deep understanding of the subtleties of the issues, and she simply radiates competence. Finally, she is not ideologically driven. Her passion is for solving the real problems the district faces in workable pragmatic ways.
So for those eligible to vote in the May 9, 2009 PISD elections, please vote for Missy Bender for place 7. In a posting that I am still working on, I will have a recommendation for Place 6, where the choice between the candidates is not so clear.