Federal Way School Board pos. 3 candidates: Video interviews and more | ELECTION 2011

Primary election candidates for Federal Way School Board position 3 are Carrie BeSerra, Liz Drake and Danny Peterson. Each candidate answered three questions for a video interview with The Mirror (select the individual candidate's video from the menu on the player above, which includes Federal Way City Council candidates):

1. Do you feel the school district's academic acceleration policy is fair and/or worthwhile? Would you change it?

2. What is the most important issue facing Federal Way schools?

3. What is your proudest accomplishment in public service?

A debate for primary election candidates for Federal Way School Board and Federal Way City Council will run 6 to 8 p.m. July 13 at Federal Way High School.


Carrie BeSerra (click here for video)

Bio: BeSerra is a stay-at-home mom who formerly worked in the health care industry. She has a degree in speech and hearing sciences from University of Washington, and her three children attend Twin Lakes Elementary School. She is also active in her church, homeowners association, PTA and children’s activities.

On the district’s controversial academic acceleration policy: Schools are a lot like democracies. They maybe have some of their rights curtailed because you can’t violate others’ rights. But if you don’t think something is fair, you need to take it up with the board, you need to take it up with the powers that be and kind of pursue that with them. It may be fair to you, it may not be fair to you. But that’s something you need to take care of at a level where they’re able to implement and tweak the policy or change the policy. I actually think it’s a very worthwhile policy. It’s kind of ambitious. It’s trying to accomplish three goals all at once. It’s setting very clear, high expectations for our kids, which helps them achieve. It’s closing the achievement gap, which is so important that we do. It’s helping these kids achieve. They are achieving in these classes. Now, I think with some of the controversy, they’re relying on just the one measure of meeting standard on a state test. Maybe they need to introduce another measure. Maybe that’s an over-reliance on just that one indicator of the student’s aptitude. But that’s something that needs to be discussed. Another measure: maybe their GPA, maybe their state test. We need to see what meeting standard means. When I was growing up, meeting standard was a C or a D. How ready are these kids? What is their aptitude and their achievement and their ability? Are they ready? We need to make sure they are because we don’t want them to go in there and flounder. But we want them to go in there and try.

Contact: cabeserra@comcast.net or (206) 799-1631 or visit her on Facebook.


Liz Drake (click here for video)

Bio: Drake recently retired as principal from Todd Beamer High School. Public education has been a vital part of her life for the past 40 years. She has been a teacher and administrator in England, Pennsylvania and most recently here in Federal Way. She completed her undergraduate degree in England, and a master’s degree, principals certification and superintendent’s letter at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

On the district’s controversial academic acceleration policy: I absolutely agree with the academic acceleration policy program. I feel that it is absolutely essential that every student who is academically prepared and motivated to take accelerated courses should have an opportunity to study such rigorous, advanced programs. I would in no way change the policy. What I feel needs to be considered, looked at, is the way in which we are implementing this change. Presently, students who have previously not had an opportunity to take part in advanced programs are now being automatically enrolled. And it is totally essential that the district and schools communicate with parents and students what the expectations are and how they are going to be required to work to meet the rigorous standards. It’s also critical that the other key stakeholders within this changing policy — teachers, administrators — are aware of the changes that they are going to need to bring about in the classroom.

Contact: liz4director@gmail.com or (253) 347-6683 or visit her on Facebook.


Danny Peterson (click here for video)

Bio: Peterson is a nine-year Federal Way resident and father of two young children. He graduated from University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology and holds a master’s degree in teaching from Seattle Pacific University. Peterson did his student teaching at Decatur High School and has taught throughout the Federal Way School District. He is also an Advancing Leadership grad who has traveled extensively in Latin America and Africa, working with with schools, churches and communities to develop health care resources and educational programs.

On the district’s controversial academic acceleration policy: I absolutely support the academic policy for Federal Way schools. If all means all, then I think we need to be engaging all students in achieving our academic best. This policy is about recognizing the aptitude of students and creating a rigorous educational experience for them — to be able to have the opportunity provided to them to be able to be successful in college, if they choose to. One of the challenges I think with this academic acceleration was something that was touched on by the parents of (Thomas Jefferson High School) at the last school board meeting. They found some of these students that were adjusting to this course were having a difficult time and were struggling. I know we invested a lot of time and our teachers are preparing them for this policy. I believe that we need to ship some of the attention to our students. I would propose that maybe we would add a supplemental class, a course that would be congruently offered along with these advanced placement courses, where you have an educator come alongside these students that are struggling that have been identified, and just help point out where they’re lacking, what skills they need to improve on. And then, coach them and teach them how to do better than that so they can find success — and doing that without having to decrease the rigor of the course itself.

Contact: askdannypeterson@gmail.com or (253) 838-2789 or facebook.com/askdannypeterson


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