May 5 School Board Elections

Chronicle readers asked to weigh in with questions for candidates

During the last election cycle, The Chronicle spent several hours at the Community Television Network studios, watching debates among candidates for various local and state offices. Those debates were held by the League of Women Voters, which holds these events before every local election – and later this month, they’ll be focused on school board candidates for the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

This year, the league is asking Chronicle readers to help come up with questions for the board candidates.

On Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m., league members will interview incumbents Glenn Nelson and Irene Patalan, who are running for two four-year terms. Because their race is uncontested, the format for that CTN broadcast will be a Q&A, according to Jeanine Delay of the League of Women Voters.

On Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m., the league will host a debate between Adam J. Hollier and Ravi Nigam. They are running for a two-year term, to fill the seat currently held by board president Karen Cross, who is not seeking reelection.

Each of the broadcasts will last 30 minutes. More information about the board and its responsibilities can be found here.

If you have suggestions for questions to board candidates, 1) leave a comment here, or 2) go to the league’s website and click on “Contact us” – there you’ll find a link to email league members. The deadline for submitting questions is Wednesday, April 15.

In Ann Arbor, there are no other races for public office or ballots proposals for the May 5 election. Information for other municipalities is on the Washtenaw County clerk’s website.

As a reminder, April 6 is the last day to register for the May 5 election. Ann Arbor voters can get more information about registering to vote from  the Ann Arbor city clerk’s site.


  1. March 31, 2009 at 1:58 pm | permalink

    Questions for candidates:

    1) What are your thoughts about the book, The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn, and its implications for our schools?

    2) Similarly, what are your thoughts about this video? link to video

  2. March 31, 2009 at 2:30 pm | permalink

    Two generic questions on openness:
    1) How will you develop relationships with the new media institutions developing in Ann Arbor?
    2) How will you use new technology, such as email lists, weblogs, and the School Board website to provide more detailed information about the AAPS?

  3. By Linda Diane Feldt
    March 31, 2009 at 4:19 pm | permalink

    There is far greater demand for public alternative education than there are spots for kids. What can we do to offer more choices for parents and students? Do you support the programs at Ann Arbor Open and Community High school? Are you aware of Community’s programs for non-CHS students? Do you have a plan or position on providing additional support to Roberto Clemente students?

  4. By Julie Roth
    March 31, 2009 at 7:11 pm | permalink

    1) I agree with the last poster…. We lose many kids from the AAPS who we could keep by offering more alternatives such as Ann Arbor Open. These families often choose charters and private schools if they do not get in, or if the location is too inconvenient. Would you consider an “Ann Arbor Open East” to meet demand?
    2) What are your thoughts on this video: link to video ?
    3) I second a previous poster re: what are your thoughts on Alfie Kohns The Homework Myth?

  5. By Erica Melnykowycz
    March 31, 2009 at 9:15 pm | permalink

    1. Do you believe the kindergarten curriculum is developmentally appropriate?

    2. Do you support universal preschool?

    3. How would you work to alleviate the achievement gap?

    4. Please explain why AAPS needs an equity team.

    5. What are ways to ensure that special needs students are fully included within the schools they attend?

    I second the questions about homework and additional alternative schools.

    (Thanks, Chronicle! This was a thought-provoking exercise for me.)

  6. By Ruth
    April 1, 2009 at 9:17 pm | permalink

    Here were my questions:

  7. By ChrisW
    April 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm | permalink

    How do you retain good teachers and get rid of or improve mediocre ones?

    Specifically how can we handle upcoming budget problems? Are higher taxes the only way?

    Why should or shouldn’t teachers be publicly rated — by students, parents, their peers, test scores, and principals?

    Do you think “Everyday Mathematics” is a good system?

    Explain your thoughts comparing academically rigorous classes vs. more enjoyable, less strenuous ones. Which is better in the long term?

    Should a child with no math aptitude but a love of books be allowed to take more English/reading classes and fewer math ones at the high school level?

    Is it necessary to teach calculus and geometry to all children?

    What kind of computer/internet classes should we be teaching that we’re not teaching now? Other subjects you would like to see taught?

    How can we take better advantage of having The University of Michigan in town?

  8. By Steve Borgsdorf
    April 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm | permalink

    What business and financial skills do you have to help you understand and manage the AAPS budget and funding structure? Are you able to read a financial statement?

  9. April 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm | permalink

    Numerous studies have shown that children who have access to the arts as part of their educational experience enjoy greater academic success in school and higher earning potential later in life. Funding constraints and requirements imposed by No Child Left Behind have prompted some school boards, however, to eliminate arts education from the curriculum. What is your position on the role of the arts in K-12 education and if elected, will you support continuing access to arts education in our schools.