Candidate Survey: Art Kaff for Harford County Board of Education
B.A., State University of New York at New Paltz; J.D., University of Bridgeport School of Law (now known as Quinnipiac University School of Law); Masters Degree in Strategic Studies, U.S. Army War College
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Colonel, Army Reserve. Disclaimer: Mention of military background does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.
Active in PTOs and PTAs; Member, Harford County Board of Education, December 2012-June 2015; Parent of two children in Harford County Public Schools (one will graduate in May 2018, the other is a sophomore).
Member, Harford County Board of Education, December 2012-June 2015
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Why are you running for office?
I am running for the Harford County Board of Education because District E needs a strong representative on the Board of Education who will be an advocate for all in the district. We also need someone who will advocate vigorously for a number of issues, including the following: 1) small class sizes, 2) improving teacher and staff compensation, 3) fixing the budget process, and 4) safety and security. I will also be a conservative voice. I have always believed in public service. For example, I am an Army veteran and I serve on the Harford County Commission on Veterans’ Affairs. Disclaimer: Use of military background does not constitute endorsement by the Department of the Army and the Department of Defense.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Abraham Lincoln. He was a tremendously inspiring leader who overcame great adversity in his life and worked to unify the nation.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
“Colin Powell, My American Journey.” This book is about General Powell, an individual who arose from tough neighborhoods in New York City and became a four star general and a great military leader, advising a number of Presidents.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
“I Am Malala: the Girl Who Stood Up for Education And Was Shot By the Taliban.” This book demonstrates the importance of education.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
There will be several important priorities, but my top priority will be small class sizes. Students learn best when there are small class sizes. This priority is also closely related to the need for preventing further cuts to teacher positions.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
Fundamentally, the biggest issue has been funding problems and the budget process. This has been the primary cause of greater class sizes, cuts in teacher positions, stagnant compensation, and lack of vocational training for students. The County Executive has sought to do much good in the past few years by including additional funding for Harford County Public Schools in his budget proposals. We must continue to address this issue.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
The three biggest issues facing Maryland schools are as follows: 1) Funding for education, 2) the state of Maryland falling behind other states in education, and 3) the overemphasis on standardized testing.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
Yes, I have read the curriculum. I do not support Common Core and the PARCC Assessments. There is also an overemphasis on standardized testing. There is a great need to develop curriculum locally instead of relying on the Common Core.
What is your position on school spending?
We must ensure that school funds are spent carefully. While there are strong needs for our schools, such as the need to improve compensation, to bring more technology in the classroom, to improve safety and security, and to bring more vocational training, we must also ensure that funds for education are not wasted in Harford Public County Schools and are spent wisely. We must also strive to find ways to look for efficiencies in the budget. Finally, there needs to be greater transparency in the budget process and spending on the part of the Board of Education.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
Classroom Technology/Computers, Security, Teacher Pay
What is your position on teacher tenure?
We need to find ways to retain our teachers, as we have been losing them to other counties and other jurisdictions.
What is your position on standardized testing?
I dislike standardized testing due to the stress it places on students and teachers, and the time it takes away from valuable classroom learning.
What is your position on classroom size?
Small class sizes are greatly needed. It is clear that students learn best when class sizes are small.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?