Thomas Wilson: Building on a lifetime of teaching

October 18, 2002

Thomas Wilson wants to bring his 30 years of experience in

teaching and school administration to the Laguna Beach Unified School

District Board of Education.

He teaches business ethics at Pepperdine University Graziado

School of Business while directing the Paulo Freire Democratic

Project at Chapman University. After moving to Laguna three years

ago, Wilson became involved in the district's Quest for Excellence


service learning sub-committee because it gave students a foundation

in community involvement while earning them practical credits for


He would like to intensify and broaden service learning projects.

"How can we use the community as the curriculum?" he said. "I

think the kids can handle that."

1. Will the Board continue to oversee the details of the ongoing

construction at the schools?

Of course! The board has the final responsibility to approve the

results of the construction as a function of policy and fiduciary

oversight. However, embedded within this responsibility would be a

close analysis of the word "detail." It would not be wise for the

board to attempt to micro-manage building details requiring

construction expertise any more than it would be wise for the board

to oversee the details of classroom procedures requiring teacher

curricula and instructional expertise.

2. How will the board ensure the district's financial health in an

uncertain economy?

By prudence, by wisdom in the exercise of reason, foresight and

self control. Its financial health is determined largely, save

efforts such as SchoolPower, by external sources. Because of its

wealth, the district receives virtually no federal funds and relies

upon property tax for about two-thirds of its entire school year

revenue. Thus, the board's budget is tied, to a large degree, to the

value of property within the district. Per average daily attendance,

it is the wealthiest unified school district in the county. As such,

it is able to carry a reserve fund beyond that demanded by the state,

a prudent move.

3. Do you feel that classroom size is an important issue at our

elementary schools?

Small class size (20 to 1 as now constituted) is necessary but not

sufficient. Would it be better to have 20 to 1 with an ineffective

teacher or, say, 30 to 1 with an outstanding teacher? Just reducing

class size without addressing teacher quality is not a formula for

improving student authentic achievement. If teachers in smaller

classrooms continue to teach the way they did in larger classrooms,

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