Mesa School Board - Candidate Response -Elaine Miner

Mesa Public Schools Candidate Questions


1. What is the purpose of K-12 education?


There are multiple purposes of K-12 education. To name a few, they include:

(a)    To prepare our children to become active, productive and prepared contributors to our society;

(b)   To prepare our children to become knowledgeable productive participants in our nation’s democratic processes and government and be prepared to undertake the responsibilities attendant to protecting our nation’s core freedoms;

(c)    Individual rights and public duties, including obedience to the rule of law;

(d)   To help prepare our children to become independent of their parents and to be able to support themselves and their own families.

(e)   To help our children understand and be able to function in the world around them, to understand how things work in the world and how to be able to productively make the world work for their benefit as well as for others;

(f)     To prepare our children to be of service to their community;

(g)    To teach our children to have the self-confidence they need to function productively and happily in society; and

(h)   To help our children develop skills that will give them self-confidence.


2. What are the primary responsibilities of a Board member?


An effective School Board Member is one that becomes informed about relevant school district issues, is an effective communicator and liaison between parents and school teachers and administrators, provides leadership to the district insofar as vision for public/parental partnership and goals are concerned and helps address issues to help the district function more effectively and efficiently. A good board member helps hold administrators and teachers accountable to parents and the public at large.


3.  What metrics should be used in evaluating teacher performance?


Teachers are and should be treated as professionals tasked with the primary roles of educating the children of our society and helping to teach and prepare them to function productively in our society. Teachers should be treated with respect and appreciation for the important educational and preparatory work they perform.

            Evaluation of teacher performance should include a number of things including, among others:

(a)    Competence and education in the courses they teach;

(b)   Understanding of and desires to help and educate the students they teach, including cultural backgrounds, motivations, basic family situation and talents.  Our students can best learn the instructional content and subject matter when taught in a manner to which they can relate at their various ages.  Teachers can be evaluated on how they determine to best motivate and inspire the students in a productive manner;

(c)    Competence in monitoring student progress toward attainment of expected instructional requirements;

(d)   Competence in evaluating effectiveness of the curriculum and making suggestions toward improvement;

(e)   Effectiveness in giving specific and credible feedback, praise and constructive criticism;

(f)     Effectiveness in maintaining necessary control of the classroom or extra curricular activity setting;

(g)    Adequate student performance assessed through:

  1. Standardized testing;
  2. Performance on subject matter assignments (math computations, grammar in writing samples, reading level relevant to age, etc.);
  3. Performance within group activities/projects, how well students perform and contribute in a group setting as compared to other students with the same expectations;
  4. How well a student progresses through the given standardized curriculum for their grade level.

(b)   Effectiveness according to parents. Parents have a critical role in assessing a teacher’s performance. It is important to note that even the best of teachers cannot please all parents all the time but if there are consistent complaints about a teacher this should be included in their evaluation, as should consistent positive feedback.


4.  What changes should be used the board, by itself or through the ASBA, seek in Title 15 of the Arizona Revised Statutes?


I’ve not yet considered changes to Title 15. But, I definitely support local governance of K-12 education as opposed to federal mandates or interventions into local school systems. ARS §15-102 adopts a policy promoting parental involvement, parental participation in a manner intended to improve parent/teacher cooperation including, with respect to attendance, homework and discipline. Title 15 also promotes the ability of parents to learn about and review courses of study for their children including courses relating to morality or religion. I support parental involvement and view one of the primary roles of board members to be that of acting as a liaison between parents and school administration.


5.  When does the government’s authority to decide a child’s education outweigh a parent’s right to raise their child as they see fit?


Parents have a right to make reasonable choices for their children within the public school system, such as opting their child out of classes or curriculum parents find objectionable based upon such things as religious and moral beliefs. The role of parents and parental participation in the education of their children is important and must be fostered and encouraged. A parent’s right, however, does not include the power to dictate curriculum for the student body at large.

      Parental input is extremely important as to what areas or curriculum points the children are struggling to master.  Parental input is also invaluable as to whether the children are experiencing socialization or other relationship or schoolyard problems. As a board member, one of my primary objectives will be to act as a liaison for parents to help them effectively communicate with teachers and administrators for the benefit of their children.


6.  What can the Federal Government do for education that the state and local districts can’t do for themselves?


I believe the federal government should have a limited role in education at the local level. At this point in time it has overreached through unfunded mandates and placing regulations and policies on local districts that most often create more burdensome obstacles to providing a quality education. What the federal government can do is more effectively provide adequate funding and resources to local districts for the benefit of public education and educational activities. Federal government can be more supportive of the opportunities schools can provide our children by providing scholarships, and public/private partnerships that enhance the availability of education to those who cannot afford the entire cost. If the federal government would allow the local districts to govern themselves more and mandate less there would be less need to pour more tax dollars into education. It is all the expenses school districts must fund such as bathrooms for the transgender population, sex education, Head Start, etc. that create a need for more funding, not an insatiable appetite for more money for teachers. Our teachers aren’t seeing the dollars.


7.   How can Mesa Public Schools distinguish itself from charter and private schools, neighboring districts and home schooling?


Mesa Public Schools (“MPS”) has already distinguished itself with respect to, among other accomplishments, the number of its students that take advanced placement classes for college credit; the number of MPS students per capita that receive academic scholarships to colleges and universities; the extra-curricular activities, opportunities and sports programs that help prepare MPS students for pursuits that are in addition to purely academic objectives; the service and community involvement opportunities MPS provides to help its students learn to contribute to their communities on a positive basis; the opportunities MPS provides students to participate in mock government and United Nations activities (thereby helping them learn to effectively participate in and influence government and international government, as well as to help teach them how to preserve the freedoms granted through the U.S. constitution), and the participation of MPS in the EVIT (East Valley Institution of Technology) program that helps prepare students with marketable skills to allow them to enter directly into the skilled job market upon graduation. MPS distinguishes itself by providing multiple facets of educational endeavors:

(a)    Exceptional teacher development programs which are based on proven research and provided by such sources as local universities and national associations;

(b)   A variety of reading programs to address a diverse population with diverse needs;

(c)   A special education program that meets the needs of children with special needs. MPS’ program is considered the best in the state;

(d)   Sports programs that promote physical health and enhance sportsmanship, community unity and self-esteem;

(e)   A variety of education approaches such as:

  1. Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies (received a score of 10 out of 10 from the Great Schools organization that rates schools across the nation,;
  2. Montessori program, another education approach for elementary students;
  3. Highlands Art School, an A+ school that re-emphasizes an aesthetic education approach to complement its STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics);
  4. Franklin Junior High, a school that emphasizes the teaching of basic skills and information. 

Mesa Schools does all of this and more with one of the lowest percentage of administration costs in the nation. Mesa Schools demonstrates that public schools with the right resources, support and leadership can excel and meet the educational needs of thousands of children. I hope to be a part of that leadership.


8.  What unique talents and perspectives will you bring to the board and why are you running?


I bring passion, experience and leadership. My passion for education and education issues began at a young age and has grown over the years. I have a natural talent for understanding education issues and an appreciation for its vital importance.


I have extensive experience in areas related to education:

  • I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education, which includes teacher certification;
  • Served on the Mesa School Governing Board for 8 years, during which time I served as president for two years;
  • Currently serving on the Mesa Schools Planning and Boundary Design Advisory Committee (PABDAC);
  • A former member of State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s AIMS Advisory group;
  • Served on the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Arizona Reading Leadership Advisory Board;
  • A former member of the Mesa Schools Strategic Curriculum Review for Communication Skills Committee;
  • Participated in the national “Read Across America” program.
  • Served on the Mesa United Way Board;
  • Served as a representative for MPS to the state legislature for a statewide teacher development program;
  • Served 2 years as PTO President;
  • Served on Mountain View High School’s School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC);
  • Created the RESPECT program, a district wide volunteer program to encourage respect; and
  • Served on former Mesa Mayor Willie Wong’s Education Committee.

I have demonstrated leadership skills as president of the school board and as the CEO of the Arizona School of Real Estate & Business. As a CEO of the largest real estate and business school in the southwest I had the following responsibilities:

  • Managed the budget of a multi-million dollar business;
  • Reviewed, updated and monitored course materials;
  • Hired and managed instructors;
  • Worked with state and national regulators to keep courses updated and approved;
  • Oversaw facility improvements;
  • Created marketing strategies to increase revenue; and
  • Was a competent and effective problem-solver.

I am running because I believe I bring the skill set and experience needed to help guide Mesa Public Schools into the future with attention being paid to the needs of our children, and the coordination with parents to make our school system responsive to the needs of those it serves.

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