published Thursday, July 26th, 2012

District 7: Donna Horn

District 7's election pits Ralph Miller, a veteran educator who retired 12 years ago, against Donna Horn, an equally impressive veteran educator who retired just last year, and whose insights and concerns are fresher, more vital and more to the point on current issues.

Horn's varied teaching experiences cover a lot of ground. She has taught special needs and gifted students here and in other school systems, including in Venezuela, where she learned Spanish. She later earned a masters degree to teach kindergarten.

Her mobile work with special-needs students took her into many of the county's schools, and helped her recognize a wide range of issues: how paper-work and lawsuits can hinder special-needs programs; the obstacles that confront immigrant children who must learn English; how persistent overcrowding problems affect different schools, teachers and students.

Horn is particularly troubled about teachers' reports of wildly inconsistent application of the state's new teacher-evaluation process, and the resulting exodus of seasoned, well-performing teachers demoralized by random, inconsistent method of evaluations. She wants to fix problems that stem from lack of training for the administrators who do evaluations, the rush to perform evaluations despite the absence of consistent standards and methods, and the focus on unconstructive criticism. She also wants to address growth and capacity issues for existing and new schools in a more orderly way.

Horn supports magnet schools, transfers for minority students to majority schools, and more effective communication from school administrators and the board to the general public.

Horn's sense of the school system's broad needs and her direct manner would make her a valuable school board member. The seat she seeks has been held by Linda Mosley, one of just two women on the nine-member school board. Election of Horn would keep that minimal ratio. We strongly endorse her election.

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