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Candidate profile: Thomas J. Reigstad, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School Board

Thomas Reigstad. jpgSchool district: Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda

Age: 68

Town (current residence): Kenmore

Current occupation and/or community involvement:

I am a Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Buffalo State, where I designed and teach a course for prospective secondary social studies and English teachers on teaching and assessing writing skills. Recently I was named to the State Education Department's ELA Standards Review Committee. I have served as vice president of the Kenmore-Tonawanda Historical Society, and been a member of the Kenmore Library Advisory Council, the Kenmore Schools Staff Development Center Board, and the Kenmore Schools Full Day Kindergarten Committee.

Number of years you have lived in the school district: 31

Incumbent: No

Have you run for office before? No

Please tell us about yourself:

My children attended Ken-Ton schools from K-12 and my wife taught in the District. I am devoted to public education and our community. I've been an educator for 44 years, starting as a high school English teacher, and then directing writing programs and specializing in American literature at UB and SUNY Buffalo State for over 30 years. I have coordinated grants that supported college tutors on-site at Kenmore East High School for at-risk writers. Last fall I taught a college literature course to 11th-graders from the Buffalo Public Schools.

Please describe the top issues facing your school district and how you would address them as a school board member:

The Common Core Curriculum is deeply flawed. Strict reliance on instructional modules should be relaxed so that teachers can enact best practices. Standardized tests should be overhauled and their dominance over class time and school financing should be minimized. Public school funding is limited. I would explore grants for innovative approaches to literacy, pre-K leadership and effectiveness, and school-university partnerships. Mastering literacy skills is a challenge. I advocate increased parental involvement and ramping up individualized instruction.

Do you think public education in New York is headed in the right direction? Yes

Please explain why, in 100 words or less:

The recent elimination of the GEA was a big step toward restoring state aid to public schools, but charter schools still siphon off too much. Changes in standardized tests--shorter tests, more time to finish them--are positive, but incremental thus far. Creation of Math and ELA Standards Review committees refreshingly includes stakeholders in a serious re-examination of Common Core Curriculum standards, implementation and testing. The moratorium on linking teacher performance to standardized test scores should become permanent policy.

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