Editor’s note: Maria P. Barbosa’s interview was revealed to contain numerous instances of plagiarism. The full story is here. Each documented case of plagiarism is indicated in red with an editor’s note, along with a link to the source from which the material appears to have been lifted. In every case, the plagiarized material is lifted either word for word or nearly so, with minor alterations. Barbosa has not explained the plagiarism despite numerous attempts to contact her.
Maria Pinto-Barbosa is one of eight candidates for Flagler County School Board in the Aug. 26 primary election.
Maria Barbosa (Dist. 1)
Andy Dance (Dist. 1)
Toni Baker (Dist. 2)
Lynnette Callender (Dist. 2)
John Fischer (Dist. 2)
Janet McDonald (Dist. 2)
Michael McElroy (Dist. 4)
Trevor Tucker (Dist. 4)
County Commission Candidates:
Dennis McDonald (Dist. 2)
Nate McLaughlin (Dist. 4)
Frank Meeker (Dist. 2)
Mark Richter (Dist. 4)
Palm Coast City Council Candidates:
Woody Douge (Dist. 4)
Bill Lewis (Dist. 4)
Steven Nobile (Dist. 4)
Joel Rosen (Dist. 2)
Anne-Marie Shaffer (Dist. 2)
Heidi Shipley (Dist. 2)
Norman Weiskopf (Dist. 4)
The three school board elections–for District 1, 2 and 4–are non-partisan races: all registered voters in Flagler County are eligible to cast a ballot in all three races–whether registered Democratic, Republican, Independent or from a minor party.
You may cast a vote in both races regardless of the district, the town or the subdivision you live in. The election on Aug. 26 will decide the winner in District 1 and District 4, because each of those races have just two candidates (incumbent Andy Dance and Maria Barbosa in District 1, incumbent Trevor Tucker and Michael McElroy in District 4). So this is it for those two races, but not necessarily for the race for District 2, which features four candidates–incumbent John Fischer, Toni Baker, Lynette Calender and Janet McDonald. The race in this case would be decided only if a candidate wins better than 50 percent of the vote. Short of that, the top two vote-getters will go on to a run-off, to be decided in the general election on Nov. 4.
FlaglerLive submitted 15 identical questions to the school board candidates, who replied in writing, with the understanding that some follow-up questions may be asked, and that all exchanges would be on the record. Questions appear in bold, follow-up questions, when necessary, appear in bold and italics, and may be awaiting answers. When a candidate fails to answer a question, that’s noted in red.
School board members serve four-year terms and are paid $31,640 a year.
The Questions in Summary: Quick Links
- Purpose and vision
- Scope if the job
- District’s weaknesses and successes
- Common Core
- Three priorities
- IB Program
- Superintendent Jacob Oliva
- Who would you emulate on the school board?
- Teacher unions
- Charter schools
- Zero tolerance
- Background check
- Questions from other candidates
Place and Date of Birth: Born Sept. 21, 1963, native of Portugal, migrated to New Jersey in 1984, moved to Florida in 2000.
Current job: Property manager for the past 14 years, Portuguese teacher at Portuguese-American Club, coordinator-advisor to the T-club Teens sponsored by the D.I.V.A.S Club of Flagler County, and Flagler-Palm Coast High School Key Club.
Net worth: $408,311. Click here for financial disclosure form.
Political affiliation (keeping in mind that school board races are non-partisan): Independent.
Websites: Campaign website; Facebook.
I am running for school board of education of district 1, because I care about our children, and I would like to continue to serve my community as well as the teachers and the school board by contributing/providing my time, leadership talents and my passion to help our students achieve educational excellence and to grow into adults who are well-prepared to be good citizens.
Every child has the right to a great public education. As a business owner, happily married, proud parent, grandparent of seven beautiful grandchildren and a community member, I will like to see Schools that should strive to create an environment where all children feel valued and all children are learning to high standards.
Every candidate cares about children and wants to serve the community, and Andy Dance, who’s also happily married and a proud parent, has a long record of striving for excellence. Why should voters choose you over Dance—what makes your candidacy worth removing him from office?
I can bring fresh, new ideas to the Flagler County schools.
2. Tell us who you are as a person—what human qualities and shortcomings you’ll bring to the board, what your temperament is like: what would your enemies say is your best quality, and what would your friends say is your worst fault? Give is real-life examples to illustrate your answer.
To me as I move through life, I think I will always be involved in community service. My experience as business owner, non-profit world and Christian Clinical Counselor provides a unique skill to bring enjoyment to others. I can volunteer for something I really believe and have an interest in.
About temperament I did write two books about it one is Root of Temperament and their Personality Disorders with 452 pages and the other is the Value of Self-Knowledge “a flavor to life” with 247 pages. I do describe my temperament to be easy-going and enjoyable to be around. When comes to my friends I’m loyal and I keep my promise.
You have not told us what your friends would say is your worst fault, nor given us examples of your temperament in action.
I’m a trustworthy friend, loyal and I keep my promise. My friends say I can be judgmental when comes to differ opinions. I do battle for my beliefs.
3. Describe the scope of your job as school board member as you understand it: what’s your primary responsibility? What’s in your power to influence on a day-to-day basis? What is not in your power to do?
The school board can be considered the governing body of a school district. They are the only elected officials within an individual school district that have a say in the daily operations of the school district. School board member decisions do matter. Poor decisions can lead to ineffectiveness, but good decisions will improve the overall quality of the schools. [Editor’s note: Most of this paragraph has been plagiarized from About.com’s article, “Becoming a School Board Member.”]
Some primary responsibilities are:
- Organizational structure of the school district
- Monitoring expenses to keep taxes low and be more transparent.
- Developing a shared vision for student achievement.
- Formulating and enforcing policies for the district including code of student conduct.
- Monitor curriculum policies to make sure the policies align with curricular goals and support student learning.
- Providing safety, transportation and welfare of students while they are in school.
- And others responsibilities…
How is it in the local school board’s power to keep taxes low, since tax rates are set by the state?
The local School budget should be focused on student achievement, by holding the best programs and replacing others that are more useful for students. Effective use of limited operating funds would retain the best staff and ensure the long-term success of the school district. The board should establish and implement internal control over financial reporting.
Can you cite a single example where any of the issues you just mentioned are not being implemented already?
Day-to-day: I would provide guidance and transparency. I would be the voice of working parents and teachers as well as with the community to make the schools a better place and safer for our children and grandchildren. In addition I believe that the board should play a leadership role in the community, proactively seeking greater involvement and responsibility on the part of parents. [Editor’s note: Part of the paragraph has been plagiarized from a Tennessee web page for Cynthia Stanley-Cash, a candidate for school board there, published last January, and also plagiarized in April by a North Carolina school board candidate. Barbosa has also pasted the lines onto her web page, which was published subsequently.]
- It’s important to be the voice of diverse populations and underserved youth and providing valuable support for administrators, teachers and staff.
- Preserve extracurricular activities that build life skills through the arts, recreation, technology and other programs.
- Providing individualized instructions and support services in order for each child to achieve their potential.
- Keeping class sizes small so more interactive learning can occur.
- Parents/Mentors should be encouraged to fully participate in their child’s education.
- End bullying, Bullying is a serious problem with long-lasting effects that can be the root cause of criminal behavior, academic failure, and lack of self-esteem later in.
- Appropriately implemented, proactive behavior support systems can lead to dramatic improvements that have long-term effects on the lifestyle, functional communication skills and problem behavior in individuals with disabilities or at risk for negative adult outcomes. [Editor’s note: The item has been plagiarized from a National Association of School Psychologists briefing.]
Every board member wants more parental involvement and an end to bullying. How, specifically, would you achieve either goal beyond or differently from what’s being done now?
1. Primary goal should be to get the schools and parents to cooperate to get the bullying to stop.
2. Working together, parents and teachers can provide a consistent approach to introduce more productive and appropriate replacement behaviors.
3. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “All school staff needs to be trained on what bullying is, what the school’s policies and rules are, and how to enforce the rules.” [Editor’s note: The second and third item are plagiarized from an article on crisisprevention.com.]
Again, are you suggesting that any of these ideas are not being implemented now?
It’s important to preserve extracurricular activities that build life skills for future success projects. We need to foster a public education system that embraces and celebrates the individuality of all our children and facilitates their ability to reach their full potential, whether that be through the arts, sciences, mathematics, technology, humanities, music, or all of the above. [Editor’s note: The sentence is plagiarized from the campaign web page of Sue Peters, a 2013 school board candidate in Seattle, Washington. The line has been plagiarized by other candidates frequently since.] Some of these programs have had a profound and positive impact on the development and growth of many of our students. My guiding principle is that ALL students need to succeed, regardless of race, economic status, ethnicity, gender, language or disability. [Editor’s note: The sentence, including the capitalized “ALL,” is plagiarized from the January campaign web page of Felicia Brunson, a Broward County school board candidate, who may have lifted the line from James Lander, a 2013 candidate in a Virginia school board race.] I believe investment, commitment and support of public education will provide children of all socio-economic backgrounds a path to fulfilling their dreams and our hope for the future.
You have not answered the question, which is designed to show us your familiarity with the system, its successes and its failures. Please try again.
Barbosa’s answer: “No further comment.”
5. Common Core has caused a good deal of controversy, much of it invented out of thin air, most if not all of it irrelevant to Flagler County. Define common core as you understand it. Explain your position regarding common core. And understanding that the Florida Standards have rendered it a non-issue for Flagler, tell us whether you are campaigning for or against common core, and if so, why.
Any testing can serve a variety of purposes. For example, educators can use testing to pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses to plan curricula and adopt teaching practices tailored to their needs. The studies describe several positive and negative aspects to standardized tests, along with ideas of who is responsible for test performance. Too much emphasis is placed on high stakes test along with unrealistic expectations for some.
Many diverse schools experience an achievement gap, meaning that some groups of students achieve at a much higher level than other groups, especially on standardized tests. It is common to see persistent patterns of underachievement for lower-income, African American, and Hispanic students on standardized test scores. More and more, standardized tests are serving as gatekeepers to a child’s academic future. [Editor’s note: The entire paragraph is lifted from an article at GreatSchools.org.]
Forgetting about our children and no child should be left behind! We must advocate for our students at every opportunity.
That’s a clear answer about standardized testing, but the question was about your position regarding Common Core specifically. Please tell us your position regarding that.
I don’t like to use Common Core as a political debate. I do not support it. Children need to come first.
6. School taxes: Do you consider them high, low or just right? How much do you, as a school board member, control the setting of school taxes, and if you’ve been campaigning against high taxes, explain your position, and how relevant it is given your very limited powers as a school board member in that regard.
As a business owner, many years of experience have afforded me straightforward knowledge to make good decisions as a future board member using approach to finances, controlling and monitoring expenses to keep taxes low and be more transparent.
Once again, you have not answered the question. Please try again.
It’s necessary to examine school budget closely so that could determine which areas need to be structured, to keep the expenses low.
In preparation for your run for school board, have you examined the budget? If so, can you cite a specific example where it can better be structured?
7. Name your three specific priorities you intend to achieve as a school board members within the scope of the doable—not pie-in-the-sky stuff, not generalities. That is, three priorities you’ll be able to say, four years down the line, that you’ve achieved.
1. Specific actions need to be taken to raise achievement for low-performing students. Implementing new teaching methods that have been proven successful in other schools and providing additional resources and academic support for students, during the school day and after school.
Can you give us an example of one such new teaching method you’ve seen applied successfully elsewhere? How would you pay for those additional resources?
Did not answer the question.
2. Great schools have families and community that are engaged and supportive. At Flagler County too often parents and community members have been ignored. With the input and feedback of families and community will help to measure the effectiveness of the policy and the degree to which annual goals have been met. I believe that parents, teachers, and community members have an important role to play not just in electing a board, but also in advising the Board and the administration on issues affecting their children future, schools and neighborhoods.
“Too often parents and community members have been ignored.” Can you give us a specific example, and tell us how you, as a board member, would have addressed it?
Many teachers struggle to build and maintain full engagement with parents. Teacher need to provide an opportunity to hear the parents’ concerns and invite them into a more generative form of communication.
3. Provide support to administrators and teachers. With the constant change within Florida’s state of education, administrators and teacher need awareness and knowledge of what needs to change and why. It’s important to provide them with the information and training they need. That will inspire teachers to create new learning opportunities that will have a positive impact on student achievement.
Are you suggesting that the Flagler district does not focus enough on staff development?
Flagler district does focus on leadership however more knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for a sustainable commitment to, validation of, and exchange with culturally diverse students and families. When comes to examine gaps in policy and curricular alterations teacher need to have the proper support and preparation. [Editor’s note: much of the answer in both the first part and the second part of this segment is taken word for word from an article by Sherick Hughes and a follow-up by Bonnie Rockafellow for the Harvard Family Research Project.]
8. The IB program at FPC is the district’s most academically rigorous and accomplished program, serving a small but high-performing class of students beginning with the pre-IB program in 9th grade. What is your opinion of the program, how committed are you to its continuation, and would you support its expansion, or an expansion of a similarly themed feeder program, at Buddy Taylor Middle School, as is being considered currently?
Flagler County offer alternative programs allowing Parents to choose their children’s education to a greater or lesser degree, the quality or effectiveness of teaching. The vision is for all students to graduate fully prepared for college, careers, and a life of continuous learning. I am advocate for the IB program and believe it provides a great and rigorous academic environment for the students.
The Flagler County School Board has selected 15 community members to form a committee to search for a superintendent to replace Janet Valentine. I was one of the15 community members selected. People of that committee did their best according to the time frame been given. Our job was only to selected 5 future candidates to be the Flagler County School Superintendent.
The question was not about the selection process, which is a different story, but about Mr. Oliva’s administration as you have seen it in action since last Thanksgiving.
Being a community members to search for a superintendent replacement doesn’t allow me to reply your question.
You will be required, as a school board member, to evaluate the superintendent–the only employee, other than the school board attorney, whose evaluation is your responsibility. Your service on the advisory board, of course, does not preclude that, but rather places you in an even better position to evaluate him, since you saw the more than two dozen other applications for the job. Can you try again?
To be an effective school board, we must work together, collaborate and respect each school board talents and opinions. [Editor’s note: The answer was lifted word for word from Flagler County School Board member Colleen Conklin’s Live Interview two years ago.]
You have not answered the question.
At the present moment I cannot compare myself with current board member, because I’m total different person with a different life experiences.
Unions and employers do not always go hand in hand. However unions serve a purpose. Just as the school board has the responsibility to control and monitoring expenses to keep taxes dollars low.
12. Charter schools have had a very checkered history in Flagler, with pronounced failures—Heritage, Outreach Academy—several rejected applications, and sharply contrasting growth and success for Imagine School at Town Center, and this year’s remarkable turn-around, from F to A, for Palm Harbor Academy. How do you see charter schools fitting in public-school equation, and what are the most important criteria by which you’d approve (or reject) a charter school application? Also, what’s your position on vouchers in public education.
Alternative schools provide a number of educational approaches employing nontraditional philosophies, curricula and methods. Flagler County offers alternative schools allowing parents to choose their children’s school to a greater or lesser degree, the quality or effectiveness of teaching. [Editor’s note: The first sentence is lifted from Wikipedia’s entry on “Alternative education,” with the word “provide” substituted for the word “describes.”]
Please tell us specifically how you would analyze a charter school’s application as you decide to accept it or reject it, within the context of this district’s checkered experience with charter schools.
I do believe in zero tolerance when it comes to students wielding weapons. I have been an advocate for Safe Schools. I do know the students and parents are provided with the School Code at the beginning of every year which let them know what is acceptable or not. Yet I do recognize sometimes we do have children who are a straight A students, who have never been in trouble before. With that student it’s necessary to determine the root cause of trying to determine why somebody did what they did. Kids make mistakes. Adults make mistakes.
In many situations the positive discipline improves the child’s behavior. Such changes may entail the use of positive reinforcement, modeling, supportive teacher-student relations, family support and assistance from a variety of educational and mental health specialists. Research has proven that positive discipline strategies benefit all students. [Editor’s note: Most of the paragraph is lifted from a white paper from the National Association of School Psychologists.]
You begin by telling us that you believe in zero tolerance when weapons are involved, but then go on to say that with certain students a different approach may be needed. Would you apply that zero-tolerance approach to the A student who’s never been in trouble before, but who makes that one mistake?
In Flagler County policy has zero tolerance of carrying weapons, drug use and drug sales. When comes to zero tolerance approach to the A student who’s never been in trouble before, I do think that case needs to be reviewed.
14. Do you find the Flagler County School Board accountable to the public on student achievement and school performance over time? If not, how should it become so? And how should the district address underperforming schools?
Over the past three years, we have seen Flagler County schools in achievement growth given the ranked of 11th highest performing school district in the state of Florida (out of 67 traditional school districts). [Editor’s note: The line is lifted, with minor alterations, from a 2013 “State of Education” address by Flagler County School Board Chairman Andy Dance to Flagler County residents, posted on Dance’s website. The figure is outdated: the district is now ranked 12th. Barbosa is Dance’s opponent in this race for school board.]
Flagler County has many great schools, but there is still a lot of work to be done here and across the county. Approximately 40 percent of Flagler County students have been failing to read and perform math satisfactorily for a number of years. Meaning that some groups of students achieve at a much higher level than other groups. It is common to see persistent patterns of underachievement for lower-income, African American, and Hispanic students. [Editor’s note: The latter part of the paragraph is a repeat statement from an earlier instance of plagiarism, above, from an article at GreatSchools.org.]
I believe that the board should play a leadership role in the community, proactively seeking greater involvement and responsibility on the part of parents and mentors. Provide scaffold learning experiences under the guidance of experienced mentors, offer opportunities to actively reflect on leadership experiences, and foster peer networking.
Our parents must understand the educational process and the importance of their personal role and joint accountability in preparing their children for school and supporting their education throughout the years. [Editor’s note: lifted from the Tennessee web page for Cynthia Stanley-Cash, a candidate for school board there. Stanley-Cash’s web page appeared in January, Barbosa’s in June.]
15. Have you ever been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor anywhere in Flagler, Florida or the United States (other than a speeding ticket), or faced a civil action other than a divorce, but including bankruptcies? If so, please explain, including cases where charges did not lead to conviction.
Andy Dance did not ask Barbosa any questions, and vice versa.