Candidate Survey: Paul Konka for Baltimore County Board of Education, District 3
Paul V. Konka
B.A. (History)–University of Wisconsin-Madison
M.B.A. (Finance and Investments)–George Washington University
J.D. (Law)–University of Oregon
Now: Teacher and Professor Previously: Supervisory Accountant, Contracting Officer, Management Consultant, Computer Programmer, Navy veteran (24 years–retired as Captain)
Substitute teacher in BCPS for the last four years (kindergarten through sixth grade) and adjunct professor with UMUC (teach business finance and personal finance).
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Why are you running for office?
Because my experience as a teacher, professor, supervisory accountant, and contracting officer will ensure a high quality of education for all students in a safe environment, that teachers are adequately paid, and that the school system has appropriate administrative oversight.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
No one. The position for the Board of Education is nonpartisan.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
No favorite, but a good one is The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
A high quality of education for students.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
Ethical leadership because once that issue is resolved we can then more effectively address the other issues.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
A safe school environment, empowered teachers, and administrative accountability.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I have taught the curriculum for the past four years.
What is your position on school spending?
It should be sufficient to provide a high quality education. It should be spent effectively and administrators need to be held accountable. My background as a supervisory accountant will ensure administrative accountability within the BCPS system.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
School Maintenance, Security, Teacher Pay
What is your position on teacher tenure?
The current BCPS policies (Rule 4302 on Awarding and Maintaining Tenure and Rule 4303 on Termination of Ineffective Tenured Teachers) are reasonable. The important issue is to have quality teachers providing quality education to our children and young adults.
What is your position on standardized testing?
Standardized testing and exams have been a part of school since schools began, but too many exams are not useful. Since 2013, 15 states–from red state Alabama to blue state Rhode Island–have stopped participating in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams. Only six states now use the PARCC exams and only two (Maryland and New Mexico) use them for most grades. What’s wrong with this picture?
What is your position on classroom size?
A smaller classroom size (up to a point) enhances the educational experience for both the student and the teacher. Smaller classes than what we now have would mean more teachers and therefore administrative accountability is critical to ensure that taxes do not increase. According to the Institute of Education Sciences at National Center for Education Statistics, Baltimore County had a student-teacher ratio of 15 in 2014 (the latest data available). That statistic, if correct, is very misleading as my classes have averaged in the mid to high 20s.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?