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August 15, 2014
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, AUGUST 15, 2014 "We must focus on students' says Joshua Katz in his bid for school board seat PAGE 3A By Christine DeSouza Assistant Editor "Education is not a busi- ness; it's about the student and the classroom. The true stakeholders in education need to have a voice in education policy. I bring that voice," says Joshua Katz on his website www.joshuakatz- forschoolboard.com. Katz has been on the "frontlines of education" for 17 years, seven of those as an algebra and algebra 2 teacher at University High School. Now he has thrown his hat into the proverbial ring to take a seat on the Orange County School Board District I because he sees a big prob- lem in the education system and he wants to be part of the solution. Is there a problem in the Orange County school system? Katz recently gave a speech at a TEDx (Technol- ogy, Entertainment, Design) talk at the University of Akron. (TEDx Talks is a pro- gram of local, self-organized events that bring people to- gether to share experiences.) He shared this experience he had with a student : She was having trouble solving the equation 2 times 9. "All she had to do was count by 2, nine times, that was it," he said. She tried. She-tried in English and Spanish on paper and using her fingers. She could not figure it out. She is not in second grade. This student is 16 and in ninth grade. Is there a prob- lem with the way the school Joshua Katz systemworks? Katz also said that she is not alone. "Not by a long shot." Katz has seen the best of the school system. ComparingU.S. students to other countries, we rank in the 2os. But our highest performing students are only a small percentage of our overall population, even in honors classes. He sees from the inside, from the students' successes and failures, those who desire to learn and the wasted potential of those who have taken the path of "aca- demic mediocrity." One of Katz' biggest issues. with the school system is the standardized testing. "How can it measure that'a-ha' mo- mentwhen a student's light is finally lit?" he asks. Testing begins in elementary school. Colleagues of his tell him of their third graders who suffer from anxiety over these tests. "From a one-day, 4-hour, computer-based test, the future path of the student is set, the academic identity is established; and the mes- sage is delivered loud and clear--eitheryou can make it or you can't. No matter what the teacher tells them about how good they are or what talents they have, it they don't score well on that test, they know what it means. They define themselves. In the third grade, and it's starting to happen in kindergarten," Katz states. Albert Einstein said, "Ev- erybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." Katz calls this the "Toxic Culture of Education," and this is why he is running for Orange County school board. "Students and teachers are being reduced to singular data points by high stakes testing. Education is treated as a busi- ness and business serves one goal: profit. Education serves students and cannot operate in that manner. Students must be taught to think, to learn, to innovate. Not how to take tests," he says. What does Katz bring to the school board table? He brings the voice of a teacher--not just himself but many teach- ers. He brings the voice of parents and he is a voice for the students. He has 17 years of leader- ship education and facilitation including LeaderShape and Leadership Institute. He has nonprofit executive experi- ence including budget over- JFGO proposed Board of Directors 2014-15 In accordance with the by-laws of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, the following serves as notification of the proposed slate of board of directors and officers for 2014-2015. The 2014-15 board of directors will be installed at the JFGO Annual Meeting on August 24, 2014 at 3:30pro at the Maitland Jewish Community Campus (851 N. Maitland Avenue Maitland, FL 32751). All community members are welcome at the annual meeting. Chair of the Board--Rhonda Forest VP/Immediate past Chair--Michael Soll Treasurer--Ryan Lefkowitz Secretary--Jeannie Leavitt Directors at large--Jeffrey Berger; Dr. Ed Bromberg, Carol Feuerman, Whitney Kuvin; Dr. Cheri Mazer; Dr. Maxine Silverman Rosenthal; Toby Vandemark, Dr. David Varnagy. Agency Representatives Hillel--Yeosh Bendayan Kinneret Council on Aging and The Jewish Pavilion--Geanne Share JCC--Justin Presser JFS--Martin Sherman HMREC--Barbara Weinreich JAO--Ed Zissman Bornstein Leadership Development Program Interns: Haley Forest and Natalie Lauber Gifts of challah for Shabbat sight and financial policies. He is involved in the PTSA, the Classroom Teachers As- sociation, and the Faculty Advisory Committee. Jerry Waxman, education consultant, wrote in the Huffington Post: Katz realizes that being on the board is still an uphill battle since many rules and guidelines are set and mandated by the state, Nina Scanlon, Shoshanna Scanlon, with Marilyn. Jewish Pavilion volunteers, Nina Scanlon and her daughter, Shoshanna, visit with two patients at Lake Bennet Health and Rehabilita- Shoshanna Scanlon, Helen and Nina Scanlon. tion in Ocoee, presenting eachwith a challah to welcome the Sabbath, along with a box of black and white cookies, compliments of TooJays. yet he's willing to try his best... He clearly loves his work and always puts his students ahead of even himself." "Let's focus on getting stu- dents-out there in the evolving global economy. Let's focus on teaching them the important things: how to read, how to think, how to research, how to reason, how to master basic skills, and how to be good citizens.., and not how to take tests. WE must change the focus of our Toxic Culture away from curriculum, teach- ers, and schools, and we must focus on our students," Katz ' emphatically states. To read the full TEDx speech, and to see more en- dorsements of Joshua Katz, visit his website, www.josh- uakatzforschoolboard.com. 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