Editor’s Note: David Hochheiser is running unopposed for a two-year School Committee seat in the Nov. 3 election. The other candidates on the ballot are seeking four-year terms.
Years in Newburyport: 2 1/2
Occupation: Middle school assistant principal in Malden
Education: undergraduate degrees in literature and psychology, State University of New York at Albany; master’s degree in education, University of Southern Maine
Family: Married to Kellie for 14 years; 8-year-old son Declan and 10-year-old daughter Avery. Puppy, Izzy
What do you see as the role of a School Committee member?
School Committee members are responsible for helping craft and voting on the district’s budget, personnel issues as they pertain to the superintendent’s contract, helping community members gain a voice in the schools, and voting on — when asked — issues of policy, personnel and overall direction.
If elected, what will be your top 3 priorities as a School Committee member?
1) Communication with the community and city government. 2) Curriculum and assessment oversight that improves all students’ daily experiences. 3) Ensure that programs such as EngageNY Math and the Bresnahan’s standards-based report card are followed through on before we begin new initiatives so as to not waste teachers’ valuable time.
Superintendent Susan Viccaro recently formed a task force to study the idea of implementing a later start time for middle and high school students. Do you think they should have a later start time than elementary students? If so, why?
All of the science points to the need to have the Nock and NHS start later. That being said, there are a number of practical, logistical issues that would make it a difficult change. I’ll have to wait for the report being put together by the citizen committee that’s working on this, but I do see only a few options coming available moving forward. At this time, my favorite option would be to start all of our schools at around 8 or 8:15 with the lower grades starting shortly thereafter. I’d want that, though, to come along with funding for what would most likely be needed additional bus routes and an early drop-off program at the Bresnahan and Molin so that it’s not a burden for working families.
There has been much controversy over standardized testing in the schools. Which standardized state test would you prefer to see Newburyport Schools use — PARCC or MCAS — and why?
I attended the meeting where a group of citizens and educators convinced the superintendent and mayor to come out against moving forward with Newburyport taking part in DESE’s PARCC experiment. While I’m worried about moving to PARCC because of multiple issues with the test itself, my biggest concerns are about the amount of time handed over to any test, both by including test prep within the curricula and for the testing days themselves. I want to see us use the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks for ELA, Math and Science to develop a strong curriculum that leads to good scores without explicitly and wastefully prepping for the test. I want to see us develop sensible and meaningful curriculum-based assessments that generate strong data for our teachers. I want us to absolutely minimize the impact of any standardized testing on our schools and students. I want us to realize that there is no need to be ahead of any curve that isn’t driven by our students’ needs.