Candidate Survey: Lisa Mack for Baltimore County Board of Education
Lisa A. Mack
Dual MA in Management and Finance from College of Notre Dame of Maryland
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Retired Director of Wholesale Markets for Verizon. Work part-time as a Standardized Patient at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland
Adjunct Faculty – School of Language Arts – CCBC from 2009 – 2013
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Why are you running for office?
Baltimore County students are not adequately prepared for work and/or college because they are being educated in an “every student passes” system that does not hold them to any meaningful standard. Last April, Dallas Dance told all elementary school faculty that no elementary student could be retained for any reason. While edicts like this may help inflate the pass rate as reported by Baltimore County, they do nothing for the students who would benefit from another year in the same grade that would allow them to master grade level content. Students are tested to exhaustion, yet nothing is done with test results. How is it that fewer than 5% of high school students pass tests which are deemed to be essential to their ultimate post high school success, yet Maryland has an 87% graduation rate? Many decisions made by the school board seem to be made in a vacuum. For example, all Baltimore County students receive a 50% simply for putting their names on a test or assignment. Whom does a rule like this help? The students? I think not because neither college professor nor boss is going to give students/employees 50% on papers or 50% of their salary simply for signing their name. Education is the great equalizer and we, the citizens of Baltimore County and the BC School Board, must do a better job educating our students not just passing them through.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Winston Churchill because he prevailed when his predecessors would have capitulated and because he was not afraid to take an unpopular stance on significant issues no matter the cost politically.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
“What You Should Know About Politics…But Don’t” because, in today’s world of fake news, it is a book that looks at important issues and provides opposing, but well researched, perspectives on those important issues.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
“The Tyranny of Metrics” because it highlights the risks associated with making decisions based on metrics and it cautions against focusing so much on metrics that things that matter are made to seem less important. For example, the state of Maryland touts its “87% graduation rate,” yet, for many students, their diploma is meaningless because they did not learn enough to function in the real world.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
Initially, to understand the impetus for student impacting decisions that have been made in the past. Ongoing, to look at past and future decisions to ensure that they are made in the best interest of the students and not the best interest of the school board and/or its administrators.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
The biggest issue facing county schools is the number of students who graduate from county high schools and do not have the knowledge or skills to function in the real world of college or jobs. Each semester, CCBC offers approximately 7700 seats to students needing remedial math, reading, and English classes. Many students need to take two remedial reading classes, two remedial English classes, and three remedial math classes before they can even take a “for credit” class. How did these students graduate?
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
The three biggest issues facing Maryland schools are 1) a measurement system that focuses on metrics and not on true student learning and achievement 2) while schools can and do provide stability in the lives of many children, schools cannot educate children, feed children, vaccinate them, counsel them, and care for them without adequate resources. If schools are expected to do more than educate students, every school should be staffed with a doctor, nurse, social worker, and counselor. This type of staffing would allow teachers to do what they do best: teach. 3) finding a way to include parents in their children’s education. A teacher, no matter how dedicated or well prepared, can only impact a small part of a child’s life. Parental involvement ensures understanding and continuity when the student is not in school.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I have not read the curriculum, but I am familiar with it. I like that students have the ability to participate in hands on learning through modules and stations. I do not like that teachers cannot deviate from the provided lesson plans. Additionally, the school system needs to decide on a curriculum and stick with it. Constantly implementing curriculum changes cause nothing but frustration and confusion.
What is your position on school spending?
Teachers should have the biggest say in school spending. They know where dollars are needed more than anyone on the board. Ongoing school expenditures should be closely analyzed and scrutinized to ensure that any expenditure passes the litmus test of “Does this help students learn and retain knowledge?”
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
Teacher Benefits, Teacher Pay, Teacher Training
What is your position on teacher tenure?
I typically do not agree with tenure in any occupation. However, in the world of teaching, it is difficult to measure the impact and efficacy of a teacher when there can be so many other factors affecting a child and his/her ability to learn.
What is your position on standardized testing?
There are too many tests given to students and essentially nothing is done with the data.
What is your position on classroom size?
The optimum classroom size is twenty and should never exceed twenty-five.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?