October 4, 2020

Daniel Majeske

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictWaterford School District
City:Waterford

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Not at this point

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I have decided that I am at a point in my career where I have the experience to make a difference for Waterford Schools. I retired from teaching high school after 38 years and am now in my 14th year of teaching part-time at Oakland University, Rochester MI. I have been able to make a difference in the academic and interpersonal lives of my past students and I am ready to see what I can do for this community.
After I retired from teaching high school, I chose to remain current and relevant in the field of education. Not only does Oakland University give me teaching experience for undergraduate and graduate students in the Teacher Development and Educational Services Department of the School of Education, it also gives me continual professional development in the current methods for this profession. I joined the Field Office and have worked with dozens of Student Teaching Interns and their Mentors at various middle and high schools across Oakland and Macomb counties. I compile written and digital observations regarding lesson plans, classroom management, and teaching strategies using Core Teaching Practices. I complete digital Midterm and Final Assessments with 3-way Conferences including the Mentor teacher. We use a program like the Danielson and Marzano teacher evaluations prevalent in Oakland and Macomb Counties. I work with the Interns in ten Oakland University Seminars during the Fall and Winter Semesters.
I plan to continue this work and remain current in education. I would bring this wide array of past and current experiences with me to Waterford Schools. As a school board member, I would bring my perspective to the district to see how I could be helpful and supportive for the resources and district needs going forward into the future.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

I believe that some component parts of education justice would be equitable funding, availability of teaching resources, how we deal with achievement gaps, delivering continuous professional development to administration and teaching staff, and how we create and make our school buildings and cultures friendly and welcoming to LGBTQ+ students and staff and all ethnicities.
Adequate resources, which are often at the mercy of funding that is not equitable, are imperative to narrow and close achievement gaps. Students need knowledge and skills in order to have equal opportunities and resources need to be directed to them. The fact that the poorest areas in the state receive the least amount of per-pupil funding is not equitable. The whole profession is not adequately financed. Teacher pay is far below comparable professions and the freezing or reductions in pay since 2008 must be demoralizing and disheartening to the experienced staff. This creates some difficulty in attracting the best new teacher talent.
Administrators and teachers must keep up with changes in digital tools, concepts that constitute Best Practice and Core Teaching Principles, and current research in order to assist in the instructional delivery, assessments, and the ability to provide optimal student learning. Continuous Professional Development is essential to Best Practice.
How we treat people we perceive to be different from us in any setting, but particularly in schools is an important part of education justice. Ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ESL (English as a Second Language) are a few of the differences from the majority normative that should be welcomed, included, and treated as well as anyone in the majority.
I think that continued development in all of these areas apply to Waterford Schools. The pandemic has exacerbated funding issues with the need to divert some funds to cleaning and safety. I read an online school board report this summer that said the district feels it is $700 short per-pupil for funding for this next year. All of the above areas are impacted by not enough or equitable financing.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Public education began to help those who could not pay for private education in the 1800s. There was a vision where raising the educational standard of our whole country would benefit the nation in higher productivity, wages, innovation, ingenuity, the purchase of consumer products, and the general improvement and well-being of our whole economy. Like healthcare, education should not be just for the privileged or those who can privately pay. Teachers in the classroom know what they need to improve their instructional delivery. Adequate and equitable funding for Public Schools should be a priority of State and Federal governments. Teacher pay would be comparable to all the other professions with comparable educational standards such as law and medicine. Resources would be directed to target the achievement gaps as well as challenge the academically talented. Administrators and teachers would create cultures that are welcoming and inclusive of various ethnicities, and LGBTQ+. Continuous professional development would assist staff in creating welcoming and inclusive cultures as well as keeping them up-to-date on Core Teaching Principles and Best Practice, which would include the best uses of technology/digital tools. Safety for everyone both medical and security would be the number one priority.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Safety for everyone both medical and security is an important area for the involvement of parents, students and families. Parent-Teacher organizations and Conferences need to be re-imagined for some innovative methods to encourage better involvement and how each can support the other to create progressive movement for inclusion, acceptance, and enrichment.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

No one. I have not asked anyone for financial support.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

I believe that the safety of students, teachers, staff, and administration are a top goal for the district. From gun violence to the pandemic, everyone’s safety is an increasingly top priority. The local municipal government and the school district school board share the responsibility for safety. Rules, protocols, and guidelines for safety may be coordinated collaboratively between the local municipal government and the school board or possibly imposed on the district by the municipality. A related example of this could be professional dispositions. The professional commitment, behaviors, and relationships of ALL employees in a school district and the appropriate behavior of students and parents are subject to the oversight of the local school board. However, some discipline and enforcement may need to be shared or handled by the local municipality, particularly if it is criminal activity.
The most important board role is the hiring of teachers, staff, and administrators and the bargaining of contracts for those personnel. Cultural changes, best practice, and improved instructional delivery start with hiring the best candidates a school district can find.
Budgeting of finances, adequate and balanced allocation, and distribution of resources throughout the school district as well as professional development for staff and administration are additional goals. Since funding is so crucial to having the resources that are needed, I would want to make sure the budget reflects what is best for students.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

At the state level, funding, curriculum, and the effect funding can have on teacher preparation are important roles. Per-pupil student funding affects every school district across the state. The State Board of Education affects the curriculum courses taught at the elementary and particularly the secondary level. State funding of higher education can affect teacher preparation at state colleges and universities. In the past, I believe that Michigan was considered a leader in teacher preparation across the nation. After having been a part of the Teacher Development and Educational Services Department of the School of Education at Oakland University, I am pleased to say that must still be true. I see many intrinsically motivated college students selecting education as a profession despite the low pay, but the numbers are dwindling. Better and increased funding would help attract the numbers of students that we have seen in the past.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

This 2020-2021 school year may be very fraught with challenges due to COVID 19. Moving from remote teaching to a hybrid or in-person and maybe back to remote depending on the pandemic is an uncertain and unknown element. The district needs to pay close attention to what is happening in society around the district and what the case amounts are in order to have a hybrid or in-person program. Wearing masks should be mandatory with some exceptions made for lower elementary. Social distancing, re-alignment of class schedules, a rethinking of how many students can be in a building at the same time are probably just a few of the things to be monitored. I’m certain that more things not yet thought of may crop up during the year.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Right now, with the pandemic, building maintenance needs to be a top priority. Staff salaries need to be maintained and increased. Teaching morale suffers greatly when they feel they are working harder for less. Maintaining a strong academic curriculum requires not only appropriate resources, but staff who feel they are valued as well. Finding ways to include the Arts and Sports are important to the educational balance. I realize that these areas are dropped and moved to the back because core curriculum academic subjects have to be maintained. I reluctantly agree, but I would struggle and brainstorm ways to find some inclusion for the Arts and Sports.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Standardized test should be minimal. We need strong assessments to measure students’ performance and give us baselines. However, we must move away from the trend of “teaching for the tests”. Too many standardized tests do not account for the differentiation of student abilities. Research has shown that not all students learn exactly the same way.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I would keep or increase Honors and AP classes. I would keep, change, or increase the allocation of resources for special education and ESL. Honestly, until I am on the school board, it is difficult at this point to answer this question. I need to see consistent data from the administration to answer this question with better clarity.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

It is not just the school district that has responsibility here. These students will go out and be citizens not just in this district. They may move to different parts of the state or to another state. Our state and federal governments have a responsibility to provide school districts across the country with funds to hire mental and physical health counselors. We all see the need for academic counselors, but every building needs staff that can support the mental and emotional wellbeing of both staff and students. Sometimes a person’s mental or emotional state is influenced by their physical state. Psychological and physical both need to be addressed.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

In my 52 years of experience, student disciplinary issues do not occur for one reason all of a sudden. They are a culmination of experiences that student has experienced over time. Outbursts that could harm others or themselves need to be dealt with swiftly and immediately with removal for a time and possibly expulsion. However, prevention here is the best tract. A welcoming and inclusive culture, psychological and physical attention at the earliest observed occurrences can help prevent the escalation to physical outbursts. Students do not arrive at school as empty vessels to be filled. They bring lots of baggage with them from their homes and societal experiences. These need to be addressed not only for the student, but also for the benefit of our society.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Appropriate resources and funds for resource rooms and mainstreaming as much as possible. This is another one of those questions where I need to see administrative data in order to give a better informed answer.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

I would refer you back to what I wrote for an answer on your question of education justice. My opening paragraph was: I believe that some component parts of education justice would be equitable funding, availability of teaching resources, how we deal with achievement gaps, delivering continuous professional development to administration and teaching staff, and how we create and make our school buildings and cultures friendly and welcoming to LGBTQ+ students and staff and all ethnicities.
Working toward achieving equity in Waterford Schools would encompass all of the above.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Yes, I have lived in the Waterford Schools District for 30 years. I expect to live in my current home until the end of life or if I should ever need assisted living. My two daughters grew up with their mother in a different school district and my seven grandchildren are attending schools in different districts. That does not mean that I am not interested in Waterford Schools. This is my community and it is where I live. Although I have not been involved until now, that only means that I have been very busy being involved with work and volunteer activities in the places where I was employed as well as activities my daughters were involved in and now activities that my grandchildren are participating in.
As evidence of how active I have been I want to go back to my full time teaching in Holly Area Schools and now at Oakland University. I chaperoned dozens of dances and spring graduation events in Holly. I did the statistics for the ninth grade basketball team home and away for two years. I did the stats for the Varsity Baseball team for home and away for four years. I was the Yearbook advisor for 12 years. I learned a lot about Holly. The high school is about 140 years old and when the yearbook reached its 100th Anniversary, we did a special edition with some very interesting facts. At Oakland University, I have volunteered for Convocation and Teacher Educations days. I have taken online courses to give myself additional professional development in technology and my field of work. I love what I did and currently do. I would bring to the Waterford Schools the same level of commitment to their schools that I currently exhibit at the university and have in the past. I am now ready to see if I can make a difference for Waterford Schools.