With the November 8 election day swiftly approaching, Upper Dublin Patch is on a mission to inform its readers about the background and stances of every single candidate running for office in our township.
We'll present two pieces on every candidate: first an interview on their personal background, followed by a second to find out their viewpoint on key issues. To find which ward you're in, click here.
Joan Ryder Ludwig is one of three challengers who, along with four incumbent candidates, are vying for five open spots on the Upper Dublin Board of School Directors. In , in which all candidates crossfiled as both Democrat and Republican, Ludwig came in second place on the Democratic ballot, garnering 17.79 percent of the vote. However, she says politics and education do not go hand-in-hand.
Upper Dublin Patch: What publicly elected offices have you held, if any, and for how long?
Joan Ryder Ludwig: I have never run for nor held public elective office before. I have served on the Educational Advisory Committee, a standing committee that researches educational issues for the Upper Dublin School Board, for six years and was Chair for the 2010-2011 academic year. I have also served as president of a local professional society for the last five years.
UDP: Can you take a moment to tell our readers a bit about yourself-- where you're from, your education, and your professional and personal achievements?
JRL: I am a cognitive engineer, a profession that involves designing systems, procedures and organizations to improve performance and reduce errors using principles of human perception, learning, memory and decision making. My 30-year career focused primarily on designing human-computer interfaces and computer-based training systems, with 20 years of that at CHI Systems in Fort Washington.
During that time I was a project manager, principal investigator or technical lead on numerous research and development projects and have authored journal articles, book chapters and conference presentations in my field. Last year I became an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Drexel University and taught an undergraduate course on human factors and cognitive engineering.
I moved to Upper Dublin in 1988 with my husband, Robert Ludwig, and our two-year-old twin children, Daniel and Michelle, who are both 2005 graduates of Upper Dublin High School. I earned a Bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University, both in psychology, with an emphasis on human learning and decision-making. I grew up in Kansas City, MO and have lived in a number of east coast cities including Center City Philadelphia before moving to Upper Dublin.
UDP: Where do you place yourself on the political spectrum? Are there any key philosophies or issues you hold most important?
JRL: The best way to answer this question is not with a label but by explaining the principles that would guide my decisions if I am elected to the Board. We are in a time that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described as “the new normal,” meaning that we must do more with less as we cannot maintain the status quo with regard to spending in education.
I am committed to maintaining programs and services that distinguish our schools to the extent possible within our fiscal constraints and economic conditions. To achieve this goal, we must examine new methods and ideas for use of technology, staffing and compensation, operations and infrastructure, and revenue generation. We must also review all aspects of district operations for effectiveness and reduce costs on anything that does not benefit students. One possible avenue for greater productivity is increased collaboration with regional districts in areas where cost savings can be realized.
I believe we have a responsibility to provide a quality education to all students. I support efforts to reduce the achievement gap and don’t want to make decisions that would jeopardize district progress in this regard. I also believe in the importance of the arts, technology, athletics, and extracurricular activities as well as academics for developing character and producing well-rounded students, and don’t want to make cost a deterrent to participation.
By the same token, we may not be able to offer quite as wide a range of offerings as we have in the past. Our methods and practices must evolve to equip our students with critical thinking and communication skills (in addition to core academics) to compete in the global economy and that may mean dropping conventional practices and instituting new ones. I am a believer in evidence-based policy decisions and consider performance data and research on best practices to be important inputs for evaluation of which programs and services to keep and which to discard or modify.
UDP: Why are you running for this office?
JRL: I moved to Upper Dublin because of the reputation of the school district and would like to serve on the School Board to help maintain the quality of the schools and serve my community. I have an abiding interest in education because of its critical importance to our children and our community, as well as my academic and professional interest in learning and training. Also, since my children are grown and I am no longer working full time, I would be able to put considerable time and energy into something of value to the community.
Stick with Patch as we continue to speak with candidates. Click for previous interviews. Incumbents in bold.
Upper Dublin Township Commissioners
Ward 1: (R), (D)
Ward 5: (D), (R)
Ward 7: (R), (D)
UDSD School Board
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Magisterial District Judge