Saugus Union School District Governing Board candidates Julie Olsen and Bruce Fox sat down Thursday night to discuss their platforms and policy solutions at a candidate forum sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Council PTA.
Both Olsen and Fox have experience in the education sector making it their respective careers—Fox as a high school teacher and Olsen as a corporate learning professional.
The major change Olsen would like to see made in the district is the removal of the mandate for direct instruction, which she believes inhibits classroom lessons.
“Neighboring districts do not have such a mandate,” she said. “Unfortunately I believe the policy in place has led to the decline in the achievement our schools.”
Olsen said the change in this mandate and the selection of textbooks to better fit the Common Core Standard will help bridge the district’s achievement gap.
Fox said teacher strengths should be used in the classroom and described the implementation of the direct instruction mandate as “overbearing.”
“Right now I think our teachers are on initiative overload,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure put on our teachers to perform a certain way.”
Fox said he wants to pursue more ongoing teacher and professional training and increase parent understanding of the Common Core Standards and increase parent participation to help address the district’s achieve gap.
The two would like to see a change in teacher evaluations as well.
Olsen believes teachers should be evaluated using multiple measures besides test scores like through observation and lesson differentiation.
Fox would like to see a method of standardized evaluation for school administrators to use across the district’s 15 schools so teachers know what they are being evaluated on.
The candidates themselves acknowledged that they hold similar opinions on several topics regarding the district including SUSD’s funding formula, district inequity, special education, declining enrollment and the achievement gap.
Both want to guarantee that district funding is equally distributed throughout the district’s 15 schools, develop equity in the areas of extracurriculars and the arts, mainstream education and integrate classrooms to fit the needs of special needs and general population students, integrate the arts into the classroom and not place importance on the district’s declining enrollment.
Overall, Fox hopes to act as a community member and be accessible to bring people together to develop programs and initiatives that benefit all Saugus students.
Olsen hopes to use her background in education to successfully lead as a member of the governing board and continue involvement and academic growth in the Saugus schools.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_