Getting Started

I have thrown my hat in the ring for the St. Vrain Valley School Board.  As a first time candidate for public office, this is the time for me to keep a public journal.  I’m new to the weblog world.  My experience writing this blog could come to an abrupt end on Election Day – November 6.  Or, I could be signing on for a minimum of four years.  In either case, I will keep this blog going during the time I’m a candidate and (should voters choose me) board member.

The intent of this blog is to share what I’m doing, learning and thinking.  I hope to share questions I’m wrestling with, especially ones that don’t have clear cut answers.  The topics will be specific to the St. Vrain Valley and education in general.  I hope to hear comments and foster a conversation about how we can best serve our children and our community through public education.  I invite you to suggest topics or pose questions for me to write about in this space.  I will do my best to keep up with people’s comments and queries.

One thing I won’t do is engage in or respond to personal attacks.  I intend for this blog to be a civil space.  I would like my children to view this blog – and the comments from readers – as an example of civil discourse on issues about which people feel passionate.  I believe that one of the essential skills we must teach our children is how to engage in a democracy.  Civil discourse is one of these skills.  I hope that you will help me demonstrate on this site that it is possible to be both passionate and civil.

A blog, used to its full potential, is not necessarily a good medium for someone seeking public office.  The power and potential of the blog medium is that it is a place where a person can think out loud and engage in back-and-forth dialogue.  Thinking out loud is a risky endeavor in the public realm.  I have been an active student of politics and public life for 20 years.  I have observed that many people do not have the patience for public officials to be thoughtful, let alone think out loud.  There is an expectation that officials should have a clear cut opinion on everything – even if the issue is new.  Should a candidate or official back track from initial thoughts, political opponents use the “change” as a blunt instrument calling the candidate or official a sell-out, hypocrite or flip-flopper.  Seldom do we celebrate that the candidate or official has taken the time to be thoughtful and developed a more reasoned point of view.

I’ve witnessed the negative result of these expectations on public officials.  When officials feel the pressure to have positions on every issue, they learn to be guarded and cagey.  They develop the skills to answer questions without saying anything.  It’s a reasonable defense against absurd expectations but, unfortunately, further fuels public cynicism toward politics.

Another contribution I hope to make with this blog is to debunk the idea that people who seek public office should avoid thinking in public.  I would like to demonstrate, in a small way, that people seeking public positions can take part in authentic back-and-forth conversations.  That public dialogue is possible and valuable.  If this blog helps to foster these ideas, even if in a small way, it will be worth the effort.

I hope that you will join me in the conversation on this blog.   Meantime, if you would like to learn more about my campaign you can visit www.creighton4stvrain.com.

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4 Responses to “Getting Started”

  1. Brad Jolly Says:

    Thank you for running for school board, John. You certainly are a reasonable candidate for the position.
    Here’s a topic for you to consider.
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    Name 100 things the district could do to improve overall educational results without spending net additional money.
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    I do not expect you to have 100 off the top of your head, but I’m willing to bet you can come up with quite a few.
    This could be a good topic for other commenters to consider as well.
    Please be assured that I will post my list at the appropriate time.

  2. John Creighton Says:

    Brad,
    I think it is use to ask what can the school district do to improve without a net increase in spending. I do hope other commenters will add their suggestions.
    I approach the notion of improvement from a different perspective. The question I ask myself is what are strategies we can pursue to improve the education experience for children? A list of 100 items will be, by definition, mostly a list of tactics. Tactics are good but not sufficient.
    An example of a strategy that I believe needs to be pursued more aggressively is differentiated instruction so that the learning experience of students is tailored to where they are.
    I will come back to other strategies in later posts.

  3. Brad Jolly Says:

    I agree wholeheartedly, John. Differentiated instruction is a substantial chunk of the answer; it’s certainly a big part of Singapore’s success.
    I would go beyond differentiated instruction to differentiated, instructionless learning, meaning learning to meet an objective, without an instructor.

  4. Suzzanne Painter Says:

    Congratulations John!
    I’m so pleased you’ve joined an excellent team of board volunteers, school administrators, and teachers to chart the next course of the SVVSD.
    As you move forward, I encourage a shared success plan with the community so that we, too, can rally to the cause of better education in the SVVSD. What are the strategies/tactics and timeline that addresses differentiated instruction, smart classrooms, $120 million in building maintenance or the ability to maintain competitive teacher salaries? Brad refers to the Top 100 List–is this just a different way to say what are the priorities?
    In looking at the next 4 years, and the 4 beyond that, what stuctures will go in place to support the revenue that will be needed to enhance our school systems?
    More importantly my friend, what type of assistance will our Board of Education need and when can we plan on lending it?

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