There are less than two weeks to go to Election Day 2012. I’ve missed a lot of precious time with my family while campaigning and canvassing but my kids understand this is important to me and that I am doing it for them. It has been hard work, yet very rewarding. I am looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.
I have spent all of September and October ringing doorbells and knocking on the doors of voters in Beaumont. I have been able to personally connect with more than 1800 Beaumontians and, over the next two weeks, I will try to reach my goal of 2500. I wanted to meet voters face to face, shake their hand, look them in the eye, and provide them an opportunity for a one on one discussion about what I believe are the most important issues facing our schools and - if elected - what I would do to insure our kids have the best educational opportunities possible. Many people are surprised when someone is on their doorstep asking them for their vote. Most of the parents I’ve met agree that we have outstanding teachers and great schools but many share my concerns about how we are going to move forward.
I’ve met many parents who send their kids out of the district to charter and private schools and others who are looking elsewhere for choices that aren’t offered in Beaumont. Many parents of fifth graders, my wife and I included, find the new STEM program at the middle school in Calimesa very appealing. We are torn because we want to support our schools and keep our kids in Beaumont but, in the end, we have to do what we feel is best for our kids. In addition to the charter school opening in Beaumont next year, expanding STEM programs to our middle and elementary schools will provide some choices for parents struggling about taking their kids out of Beaumont Unified.
Many parents I spoke to are disappointed about how funds from Measure Z have been spent and most will not support another bond measure any time soon. We expected four years after Measure Z passed, the safety issues around our schools would be addressed and the hardware our high school tech classes use wouldn't be older than Measure Z. Parents realize the district needs another high school and wonder where the district will find the funds without another property tax increase. This brings them to ask me how the district could fund the curriculum and hardware to elementary and middle schools for the STEM schools I am advocating. I tell them that along with having a degree in economics from UCLA and an MBA from the University of Redlands, I have 30 plus years in business, finance, and technology. I will bring to the board a unique perspective that no one else on the new board will have. Our board will need a new perspective to develop Palm Elementary and Mountain View Middle into magnet STEM schools of which we can be proud.
Companies can’t find enough qualified STEM applicants. They are willing to support school districts interested in developing their future employees with grants. School districts across the country have been given an unfunded mandate by the state and federal governments to employ a new accountability and assessment program known as Common Core Standards. CCS is driven by technology and requires significant investments in software and hardware, investments many of us who supported Measure Z to fund. Our district has already made a financial commitment to be one of the first districts to deploy the program. We need to be smart about how and where we purchase technology. We need to stop paying two and three times list value for hardware from the state's technology contract; we need to establish contracts with local business. If we focus the district's resources on finding grants and purchasing technology wisely, and we make a plan to support both Common Core Standards and STEM, I believe we can build something really special in Beaumont.
I don’t have any endorsements from council members, school board members or employee unions. But I have support from parents, grandparents, teachers and other community members who have an interest in our schools’ future. The support and the encouragement I’ve received over the last two months has validated, for me, what I’ve been doing for the last five years. It is because of this support that, regardless of which side of the board room podium I will sit on in the future, I will continue to ask the tough questions and hold our administration accountable.
Over the last two election cycles, I’ve seen school board candidates declare their candidacy and start showing up regularly at board meetings. Once the election is over, those who don't win are rarely seen in the board room again. I won't go away that easy. My son is in second grade, which means I will be attending board meetings for at least another ten years. I will continue to do everything I can to improve the quality of education in Beaumont but I know as a member of your school board, the local political machine won't be able to ignore me as easily. I know as a board member I will accomplish a lot more for our kids. I know I have your support, now I need your vote.