NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—John Krenos is one of the incumbents of the Board of Education, and is seeking election to keep his seat on the board for the first time.
Krenos has been a Rutgers faculty member for forty years, and he teaches honors chemistry. Because a college professor has much say in how his or her classroom, the classes Krenos teaches are a way to gain insight into his views on education.
Krenos stressed at a recent candidate's forum that he is open to change and suggestions from the public, and that his team has partnerships with multiple stakeholders in the New Brunswick community.
Networking, having people in general being present at meetings, and community are important to Krenos. This is reflected in his stated positions, as well as his class syllabus, where attendance is given 39 out of 573 points in his scoring.
A further 100 points are given for recitation quizzes – quizzes held in class. Together, attendance and recitation quizzes count for about a quarter of the grade. The rest of a grade given by Krenos comes from testing and homework.
Krenos said, "An important need for our district is to maintain a diverse school board that is a microcosm of the city, board members able to reach out and communicate with many groups."
But he did admit some of the problems facing the district: "There is precious little information about PTO/PTA activities on individual school web sites, Roosevelt being the lone exception."
Krenos says that, if re-elected, he will focus on expanding summer activities and expanding "academic coaching", as well as focusing on his work in developing a science curriculum.
As a long-time Rutgers professor, Krenos has a unique perspective on education:
"I recently helped evaluate the proposed national core curriculum in the sciences. New Jersey is part of a consortium of states that will formulate and implement a new national science curriculum with uniform national assessments. I believe my continued participation in the national effort as a board member will directly benefit the students in New Brunswick."
"Students should demonstrate mastery of a body of knowledge represented by the basic core curriculum at each level", according to the syllabus. "In their coursework, students should demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge specified by the core curriculum."
At least one reviewer has noted the difficulty of his subject matter: "Avoid this class if you do not already have a good chemistry background – this class is tough."
Students of Krenos' classes paint a picture of a well-meaning, motivational grader that focuses more on tests and textbooks than on his class lectures. Those students say that Krenos expects the students to teach themselves.
Krenos' lectures have mixed reviews, but they are relatively unimportant.
"He's a great guy, but lectures were dry and not very helpful for exams.", asserts one reviewer.
Another student has a more positive review of his lectures: "You will learn so much in his class and going to lecture is something to look forward to."
Krenos' focus on having an educational background that would be useful for science classes appears to be a motivating factor in his running for the Board of Education. As Krenos said at the forum, "My interest in curriculum development and programs with Rutgers and other community groups is a driving force in my desire to run."
New Brunswick has a high immigration rate, which is reflected in the city's high public-school mobility rate of 20 to 25%. As Krenos notes, "Mobility is a measure of how many students are transferring in and out of a school. " He further points out that mobility is correlated with lower academic achievement.
Krenos says that he and his fellow Board members have instituted a program called "Newcomers," inspired by what he calls "a successful program" in Newark.
Some older students coming into New Brunswick have been admitted to grade levels intended for younger students, on the basis of testing. Because of that, says Krenos, there are students older than the age limit of 21 for high school.
"Our Adult Education Center/High School is critical for students exceeding the maximum high school age of 21," Krenos said.
Immigration, mobility, and peer pressure were all mentioned by Krenos as reasons for why some students are not learning as well as they could. Further, Krenos implies that financial trouble may be an issue, although this is an indirect implication.
Krenos mentioned that the programs for helping struggling students are a work-in-progress, with experimentation on a continual basis.
"Our district has many programs that try to help; we are always trying to find new and more effective ones. Our summer school offerings, after class instruction, newcomer programs, adult education, and credit recovery are a few examples."
What emerges from Krenos' statements on Unity Square's website, his class syllabus, and student reviews of his classes is an image of a nice professor, focused on community and curriculum. He stresses academic rigor, and he focuses on testing and attendance as measures of academic success in his classroom.
Most important, however, is his desire and willingness to encourage students to succeed. Multiple students, who reviewed him in his role as a professor, pointed this out.
Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Please visit NewBrunswickToday.com for up-to-date election results this evening.