Chat about the Lawrence School Board race with candidate Robert Rauktis

March 21, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Robert Rauktus, a retired physician, describes himself as a nontraditional student at Kansas University, where he is studying teaching English as a second language. Rauktis said he was a fiscal conservative.


Hi! I'm Joel Mathis, managing editor for convergence. Mr. Rauktis is here, and ready to take questions.

Robert Rauktis:

Bear with me. This is my first time! I brought a dictionary as I didn't make Washington on my spelling. Old technology!


Why all-day kindergarten? I don't think all children are ready for all-day school at this age. I think we push them too hard, too soon, already.

No Child Left Behind has no fans among any of the teachers or parents that I know. Is there a chance Kansas will opt out of this deeply flawed program?

Robert Rauktis:

Dear EM Jones,

I'm as perplexed by this concept as you. I cannot speak for the entire state, but what would be a possible influence for me, USD 497/

I think kindergarten was historically the transfer from the home to an all day school situation. It was high marks for learning the drills from someone who was not mom, or sibs.
sociology on the fly. The "half" was for a reason. Most of this age group had problems with attention for longer. Again there are probably a percentile at the top end who can manage this. But public schooling has to be directed at the norm. I'm have to agree. Frtom others I talked with, this kind of rigor at this age group IS questionable.

I also disagree with assuming this program as an unfunded mandate if funds aren't readily available for the costs.
Lawrence is talking of having funding sahortages for programs with proven worth.

And, I think, at some point, this is suspiciously sounding like "day-care". Not in and of itself, a bad idea, but maybe to play word games to sell a concept as sommething called "education", is an affront to "education". That pushes my cynicism button.



As the only candidate without children currently or previously involved in the school district, how can you expect to know the needs for our children?

Robert Rauktis:

Excellent question.

I initially filed for school board as there was a deficiencey of candidates. I was ashamed an academic community couldn't supply people interested in the non-glamourous local school grind. Pathetic!

From there is was some part civic duty, and my exposure (not lewd) to Lawrence High School students who worked for me. I thought they were terrific. Better than I remember me being.
Sometimes you get more information out of kids if you're NOT a parent.

These guys (workers) brought me all the info of what was going on down the hill. They become my surrogate children, even though not flesh and blood per say.

It is sometimes easier to make sensible decisions when you DON'T have to live with the children the other part of the day.
And I have been on both ends of the classroom in the past four years. I've sat in classes with the kids and stood in front of them.

I s a parent's perspective across the "Board"omething which generates independent input and original ideas. Something to think about.

If the issue is commitment, i.e.that a computer system isn't working to form at Lawrence High School?? I have the commitment, time, and resources to get on a plane to NYC and have a chat with the corporate CEO. My pedigree has tought me that persistence and commitment are two VERY important attributes.

I'd think Coach Self thinks of his players the same way.



Mr. Rauktis, what would you do if elected to cut the budget of USD 497 by at least 20%? The community can no longer have the school district as the second largest employer so how would you reduce the spending?

Robert Rauktis:

Dear River,

Budget matters can generate glib answers. I therefore have to relay an approach.

I myself would like transparency in the prioritization of what goes where. It is always attractive to have more teachers in front of students or in classrooms than administrative bureaucracy. There is obviously a point of diminishing return where SOME out-of-classroom work is necessary and better.

I went to school when the "auditorium" was called the "gymnasium". I don't know if anybody was damaged from Noble ambitions by clever use of resources. Again, I wouldn't want to accept new mandates for programs or equipment du jour.

There is a whole industry out there wanting to sell and new and improved PENCIL. I don't have a flat screen TV so I am dubious of expenditures till proven otherwise.

Teachers in the class room get budget priority.

I haven't the present knowledge to make radical statements for hacking big chunks from the budget, if that's the questions intent.

I hope that gave you an idea of how I would look at the budget, without dtails.



Can you tell us what you think about the board's recent decision to create neighborhood sites to teach English as a Second Language. The board picked Sunflower and Schwegler schools.


This'll be the last question today.

Robert Rauktis:

I went back and reviewed the recent signature article in the LJW. The old terminology was "cluster". The new..."neighborhood'. I was somewhat bewildered by the exact definition of the bureaucratic language.

I thought people were thinking that their right to a pure, all-American pure American English down the street for their kids would be diluted by their youngsters subjected to a Tower of Babel scenario. I understand why they're afraid.

But they're are upsides to such an exposure. It is a real phenomena that exposure to structured programs in two languages enhances the PRIMARY language if there is a commitment at home and of the years, 1-6.

Also, there is every reason to believe that another language doesn't interfere with the primary's developement per say. Certainly, there is some loss of specific programs from loss of the "time-on-task".

As an English teacher, I find the best way to enhance communication skills is to tackle a second language. It puts the individual on the outside of their gramatical envelope, which is good.

So, like many things there are advantages of such a duality in exposure, should you care to accept the challange. That only certain neighborhoods should be taxed with possible burdens ... IF... they emerge, is unfair. At some point one must monitor and see problems as they emmerge.

I don't think most children are broken as readily some would like to think. I think there is some resiliency so that major LIFELONG disadvantages shouldn't be a problem.

It requires some close monitoring, but there is some reason that such an experience could ber BETTER than the conventional American schooling.



Godot 11 years, 3 months ago

Bob is the one. Too bad he's the only one.

multiagelearner 11 years, 3 months ago

Wow, Bob has NO IDEA when it comes to the district ELL program. Cluster was old terminology and neighborhood is new. Not quite, two totally different programs. Nice job skating around the question. Next time don't rely purely on a newspaper to give you information on the district in which you are running for the school board. I hope this is not how you plan to research the information the board will be voting on in the future. Oh, and also, do you have any monetary reasons for wanting the district to go forward with the ELL certification program? What is your job at KU?

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