Candidate Survey: David Bohn for Allegany County Board of Education
B.S. Human Biology
D.C. Doctor of Chiropractic
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Chiropractor 1989 to Present. Software Designer. Post Graduate Educator.
I have taught in the classroom at both the community college and university level. I continue to teach postgraduate courses and continuing education for medical professionals across the US and I teach hybrid online/hands on licensing programs for chiropractic assistants in the Maryland. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, my wife Suzette and I have raised and helped educate 6 children all of whom have attended and graduated high school in Allegany County. All six have also attended college (the youngest will start college this fall) and 1 has achieved a J.D., 1 a Masters in Education, 1 working on her MSW, 1 in pre med and 1 in nursing.
This is my first time running for political office. I have always been interested in politics but it seems it is time for me to try to help our county get back on track for our students.
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Why are you running for office?
I feel that education is the foundation for our lives. I have been in love with learning since I started school. I was fortunate to have excellent teachers and an home environment that encouraged learning. So many of our students need help that they are not getting. It seems policies and procedures, endless testing, lack of funding, poor budget choices, lack of counseling, etc. have caused our educational system to stop meeting the needs of our community and our students. I am running to help reverse that and restore our educational system so that it again meets or exceeds the needs of our students and community.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
I first voted for a president in November of 1984 and I voted for Ronald Reagan. I have been fascinated with him ever since. I was raised in a Democratic household. Like me Reagan felt his democratic party was drifting from fundamental American beliefs and values and became a Republican. My father was a telephone worker, the local union representative, and he was a democrat throughout my childhood. I was told many times why I should be a democrat when I was of age to choose. My current views lean libertarian, especially on social issues, but I admire the way Reagan governed.
Reagan was elected governor of California twice during which time he successfully reformed California’s Welfare system, that stopped the sharp growth and reduced welfare by 300,000 people while at the same time providing increased benefits to those that actually needed them. He reduced spending, and increased taxes to balance the enormous deficit budget. The average citizen was doing much better, and the economy was improved and climbing.
He promised to apply the same fix to the federal government, and after the disastrous Carter years had similar success earning him two terms as president. He brought about the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, he strengthened the military, and responded decisively against terrorism.
He was a brilliant and inspirational public speaker, the media referred to him as “The Great Communicator,” and this contributed to his growing popularity. So those are some of the reasons I like him so much.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
It would be hard to chose a favorite book but at the top of this list would have to be The Federalist Papers by Charles Kesler, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison. In my view this is best guide to how our government should run that has ever been written. Most modern guides quote or reference it. It explains in fine detail exactly what the founders were thinking and wanted when they created the charter of liberty that continues to govern the greatest country ever created.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
The most recent book on education I have read is The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Although it is not exactly an education text it is based on a truly radical idea—that great companies can fail precisely because they do everything right. This also applies to our educational system. Some psychologists claim the typical college student’s attention span is about 10 to 15 minutes long, yet most university classes last 50 to 90 minutes. If a university student has a 15 minute attention span how long do you think our middle and high school students can pay attention? We are losing our students because of technology, not for lack of it. Teens spend nearly nine hours every day consuming media. Teens are spending more than one-third of their days using media such as online video or music — nearly nine hours on average, according to a new study from the family technology education non-profit group, Common Sense Media. If we fail to acknowledge fact like this and change our approach to education we will never turn the tide. We must look outside of the traditional box and make the hard changes necessary to bring our students up to the educational level they need to succeed in life.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
Currently safety and security is at the top of the list for parents and as a parent I understand completely. Administration and budget is also at the top of my list. I think that we may be spending far more on many items than needed. For just one example. For somewhere around 20 years the county and the board shared the same software and personal for payroll and accounts payable. Then about 2-3 years ago they decided to split and each get their own accounting software and personal. So what happened? They bought the exact same expensive software (2 copies, same county) and each hired people to run it. As of now both are not fully utilizing this software but we have duplicated services. This happened because of a failure of elected officials, the board and the commissioners to communicate and work together. This is where things will change if I am elected. I have ran my own business for almost 30 years. I cannot afford to waste money and stay open. I will look at the Board’s budget and expenses the same way.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
A community feeling that nothing really matters and that nothing is ever going to change.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
1. Too much testing and teaching to pass tests when many students cannot make change without a calculator.
2. Losing our focus on providing a high-quality education due to funding challenges.
3. Waste. Larry Hogan is paid a salary of $165,000/year to run our state yet our superintendent is paid well over $200,000 plus somewhere around a $12,000/year allowance for his care to oversee 22 schools. It seems to me we should be able to find someone qualified to effectively run our school system for something less than what the state pays our governor.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I have been talking with elementary and high school teachers about the curriculum. I have been told by many teachers that they would like to be able to teach some things that they feel are important but are bound by established lesson plans designed solely to meet standardized testing.
What is your position on school spending?
I think I responded to this above. We are in one of the poorest county in the state of Maryland. Maryland households had a median annual income of $73,538, the highest of any state. In Cumberland the median household income is $31,750. We need to maximize results per dollar spent.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
Security, Technology Programs, Vocational Skills
What is your position on teacher tenure?
Tenure should only be granted after a thorough evaluation with supervisor, parent and student reviews over 4-5 years. Once a teacher is granted tenure it is very difficult to remove them from the classroom. Great teachers are truly priceless but a bad teacher can cause irreparable damage to a student. We should be sure we are granting tenure to excellent teachers who have a passion for their work. My kids had teachers who actually told their students that they hated teaching.
What is your position on standardized testing?
I believe that kids naturally WANT to think—WANT to infer, hypothesize, generalize, synthesize, value, and so on, and traditional instruction often fails them. Learning, to be effective, must actively involve the learner. There are years of research that show that high-stakes standardized test scores are not reliable or valid.
Marion Brady, a prominent educator, says “the most significant objective of formal education is making sense of reality.” Reality can only be understood by identifying the systemic relationships that link the parts of reality together. Students need to be educated and encouraged to construct comprehensive, integrated, permanently useful mental models of reality to guide thought and action throughout their lives.
What is your position on classroom size?
If you visit http://www.heros-inc.org/star.htm.) and their review of the research, we can scientifically document several important findings about reduced class size, which local school districts may find useful:
1. Smaller classes in the early grades (K-3) can boost student academic achievement;
2. A class size of no more than 18 students per teacher is required to produce the greatest benefits;
3. A program spanning grades K-3 will produce more benefits than a program that reaches students in only one or two of the primary grades;
3. Minority and low-income students show even greater gains when placed in small classes in the primary grades;
4. The experience and preparation of teachers is a critical factor in the success or failure of class size reduction programs;
5. Reducing class size will have little effect without enough classrooms and well-qualified teachers; and
6. Supports, such as professional development for teachers and a rigorous curriculum, enhance the effect of reduced class size on academic achievement.
Implementing these findings will depend on eliminating waste and redundancy in our budget.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?
Our school system relies almost entirely on the state and our local government for money. I think this system should be fine if there are open lines of communication. I can see a benefit of elected boards having taxation authority. That way they would face the same tough votes as county commissioners and state delegates and senators when it comes to weighing school system financial needs with the residents financial concerns.