School Board Candidate Profile: Tina HenoldWritten by Kevin Moore | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tina Henold decided to join the race for Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Board of Education in order to repair a rift between the school district and the public and to bring a taxpayer’s perspective to the elected body.
Henold, who was raised in a military family and graduated from high school in Tennessee, moved to Toledo in 1987. Married for 26 years, she has been a stay-at-home mom to three children, two of whom are now grown. Henold elected to home-school her children, both in the United States and during the nine years the family spent as missionaries in Romania from 2001-10.
TPS’ financial difficulties addressing and bringing community oversight to the implementation of the district’s performance audit, performed by Evergreen Solutions earlier this year, are of chief importance for Henold.
“The district keeps coming to the taxpayers with levies, but the taxpayers need to know that their money is being well spent,” she said. “I pushed to have an audit done along with the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition, individual taxpayers and some board members. The board has implemented some things, good things, but there is no oversight. Taxpayers paid for the audit; it’s their audit. Average people in the community should be allowed to see how it gets implemented.”
Henold’s concern for openness extends beyond the performance audit. If elected, she promises to the reasoning behind her votes.
“The people have a right to know not only how I vote, but why. I want to break down that wall between the community and school board.”
Aside from budgets and figures, Henold thinks TPS needs to improve reading levels and offer a stronger alternative to the increasing number of charter schools in the Toledo area. More than 30 such schools can be found in Lucas County.
“Children are not learning to read, and reading is the foundation of all education,” said Henold, who taught English to children in Romania. “We need to get the community to understand if the schools fail, so does the city. We need to educate the public about the volunteer opportunities to help kids learn how to read.”
Henold believes in competition and said parents have the right to choose where to send their children to school. Charter schools, which many accuse of exacerbating the financial woes of public schools, are funded by transferring the state funds allocated for each child from the public school to the charter school.
“The district puts out signs and advertising saying ‘TPS Proud’ in order to look good. While PR is important, it won’t change the educational issues affecting our kids. I don’t think we’d see all these charter schools if TPS did a better job on education. What can we do at TPS to counter this?” she asked.
As a Christian, Henold is aware of the stereotype that if elected she will promote the teaching of creationism or mandated prayer at TPS.
“I will not do either of those things,” she said. “Prayer happens in public school; so long as there are tests and exams kids will be praying, but it should not be mandated. I also firmly believe public school is the place for science, for evolution, and if creationism is going to be taught, that is the parents’ job.”
Editor’s Note: Each Toledo Public Schools Board of Education candidate was also asked to answer 10 questions. Here are Henold’s unedited responses. Plus: Exclusive analysis by Urban Coalition member Steven Flagg.
1. What are three most crucial issues – in order of importance – facing Toledo Public Schools? What would you do as a board member to address the issues you identify?
Education, finances, and community involvement are the three most crucial issues facing Toledo Public Schools.
Education is the primary role of the school system yet we still have too many children who cannot read at grade level. Since reading is the foundation on which all other classes are based, we need to improve reading in the schools. I will continue to go out into the community to speak with people who have the ability and the time to volunteer at schools as well as at Read for Literacy. Most of the people that I have spoken with had no idea about the volunteer opportunities in the schools. I hope to engage an army of people in this activity so that our children will have a good foundation for their education.
The financial situation at TPS is strained to say the least. As someone who actively worked to push the current board to do the Performance Audit, I will see the process through. However, the process needs to be an open and transparent process which involves the community.
I believe that we have a backwards budgeting process at TPS. Contracts are negotiated, the budget is put together based on past budgets, and then the public is asked to support a levy. This is the kind of budgeting process where the voters have a gun to their heads. We need to start with the premise that the budget is just a means to facilitate education. To put it more simply: Kids first budgeting. Every program needs to be evaluated to see if it is effective and if it isn’t-it needs to be dropped. The classrooms need to be funded first and then we can negotiate contracts. In doing this, the classrooms will have all of the funding needed and we can go to the bargaining table knowing what we can afford.
The next problem is the unfunded mandates handed down from Washington, DC and Columbus. Very few educators are consulted when Legislators decides what they think schools need- and then schools are mandated to implement government programs without financial assistance. If the programs are so important, why don’t they fund them? I will continue to speak with Legislators about this problem and continue to actively battle with them on behalf of the children.
2.Why should voters select you to represent them in decisions and matters affecting the education of Toledo’s children in their public schools?
I have been knocking on doors since April to speak with voters about the issues that concern them. I believe that as a public servant it is important to meet with the public daily to listen to them and let them know through my actions as a Board Member that I not only hear them, but I am concerned enough to act on behalf of the children not on the behalf of any organization or political party.
3. What is the primary role of a Toledo Board of Education member?
The primary role of a Toledo Board of Education member is to remember that he/she is an elected public servant who should make decisions based upon the absolute best possible learning environment for the children. The board members decisions should be based solely on the impact the decision will have on the education of the children rather than any kind of influence from a political party or group.
4. The Toledo Public Schools recently completed a performance audit with projected savings of $91 million over 5 years. Do you agree with and support implementation of the recommendations provided by the audit?
I do not believe that all of the recommendations should be implemented because all of them do not make sense for TPS. I do however, believe that implementation needs to be an open process and thus far this has not been the case.
5. TPS will need to negotiate contractual changes to realize a significant portion of the savings recommended in the audit. Do you believe contractual changes can be made to realize these savings and how would you as a board member facilitate negotiations?
Yes, I believe they need to be made. I look forward to involvement in the next negotiations because, as a citizen who has spoken with several thousand people about this issue (including teachers), we all realize that things cannot continue as they are. We need to pay teachers a good salary and provide them with benefits indicative to the benefits of those who support the schools through tax money and levies.
6. TPS currently has a renewal levy on the ballot that will raise approximately $16 million annually for five years or about the annual savings that can be obtained by implementing the performance audit recommendations. Why should the TPS renewal levy be approved by voters?
The public should support the levy because although the Performance Audit has been finished and delivered to the board, TPS is not going to realize savings from implementation immediately. Since this is a renewal levy and not new money, it is important to support it while the board actively works towards implementation. It would not be beneficial to take the legs out from under TPS while they are finally working to streamline the budget.
7. Ohio statutes require that TPS teachers and principals have regular performance evaluations with student performance on standardized tests a component of the evaluation. Should teachers and principals be held directly accountable for student performance in their individual performance evaluations? Why or why not?
Absolutely not! The standardized tests are not always accurate (they are rarely accurate) in the evaluation of a particular child. There are children who know all of the information but they do not test well. The final score does not reflect what the child knows but rather his or her ability to test well. Some dyslexic readers are way ahead of non-dyslexic readers in areas of Math or English, but this is not reflected in the test scores due to the issue of dyslexia. Since the tests are not accurate for the children they are supposed to measure, how can this be a proper method of evaluating teachers and principals?
8. Ohio is currently implementing national standards regarding the skills and knowledge all students need for success referred to as the “Common Core”. Why do you support or oppose the adoption of these standards?
I am opposed to Common Core for a plethora of reasons. As far as educational standards are concerned, children do not all learn in the same way. This one-size-fits-all “standard” does not allow for individualism or critical thinking skills. Also, the national standards imply that a child from Ohio needs the same thing as a child from Montana. All children are not the same, so why should we use cookie cutters to teach them? Cursive writing is optional under CC and in many school districts it is no longer taught. The fact is that cursive writing engages both sides of the brain, and is far more useful to a child than just the actual writing. Also, if a child cannot write cursive, he/she lacks the ability to read cursive writing comfortably. This would prevent a child from reading portions of founding documents as well as the diaries of those who came before them. Math is a problem in CC because under this system if a child can explain how he/she came to a particular conclusion, the answer is counted as correct. This prevents the child from learning that there are right and wrong answers and does nothing to teach the child about how to handle himself/herself when correct or incorrect. This limits life experience for children. I could go on and on about CC and how it will not create active learners who enjoy their educational experience.
9. What endorsements have you received as a candidate? Do you believe any of these endorsements present a potential conflict of interest with the community you would be elected to represent?
I have been endorsed by the Toledo Chamber of Commerce Leadership Fund. I do not believe that this is a conflict of interest, but rather allows me the opportunity to actively work with the Chamber as a member of TPS Board in order to build a bridge between education and job growth in Toledo. One surefire method of bringing new industry and jobs to Toledo is the have an outstanding workforce educated by superior schools.
10. Parents today have a plethora of options including private, parochial, charter, virtual, and home schooling besides traditional public schools. How are parents to make this decision? And when is the public school option the best choice for parents?
It is the job of parents to ensure that their children receive the absolute best education possible regardless of where they go to school. Parents need to be aware that schools are tools in the educational toolbox, but they are not the toolbox. What I mean is this: Parental involvement in the education of a child is vital. With that being said, every child is different and cannot be taught the exact same way as the others. Some children thrive in small classrooms while others can adapt to any learning situation. Some need more one on one help while others can work independently. Parents need to weigh the options available to them and then make the best decision for his or her child. There are some amazing children that come from all kinds of schools. The object is to find what works best for each child and be involved in the educational process with your child.