Questions with Responses
Why are you running for this office, and why should voters consider you the
most qualified candidate? What in your personal or professional background
best prepares you to serve in this post?
My interest in our education system started before I married and had
children. Over the years many friends and acquaintances have been teachers.
During conversations with them I attempted to understand their jobs,
empathized with their situation and tried to understand how the school
system operates. Over the last 3 years I started to watch Virginia Beach
School Board meetings on TV. It occurred to me that the custodians of our
children's education and future were not accountable for their actions. The
School Administration and the School Board are not prepared to ask the hard
questions and make the hard decisions. The recent budget situation was a
prime example of lack of accountability. The School Administration and
School Board set up straw man budget cuts that would incite the public
rather than look deeply into the operations of the schools and make needed
changes. Then both blamed the State and the City Council. The School
Administration and then the Board should have owned fiscal responsibility
rather than shirk it or transfer it to other agencies. The result was a tax
increase rather than good budgeting and solid operational management.
My qualifications are that I am a businessman with skills and experience in
general management, finance, strategic marketing, sales, information
technology, software development, and product management. All that
experience is based on a proven track record of solid accomplishments in
large multinational and start-up companies, as well as turnaround
situations. I have served on the Boards of four (4) for-profit companies
and two (2) non-profit organizations. As a result I understand what it
takes to effectively support an operation from a Board perspective. All my
experience has taught me that 110% effort and effective leadership gets
results. My leadership is based on my actions not just my words. In my
career I built budgets and managed companies based on realistic goals and
resources available not nebulous projections.
What are the four most important actions I would take if elected?
The four most important actions beyond better accountability and better
fiscal and operational responsibility would be: 1) Increased salaries for
teachers and all non-administrative employees. 2) A "Next Generation"
Vocational Education program - our economy will need people trained in the
trades such as plumbing, fabrication (metal or composite), electronics, and
carpentry, to name a few. Creating craftsmen will be essential to our
country. Addressing training, certifications, apprenticeships and jobs after
graduation should be a focus of the Virginia Beach School System. 3)
Investment in better Math programs and the teachers to drive them. 4)
Address students with special needs by holding the Virginia Beach School
system accountable to provide services beyond the standard.
What are the key differences between you and your opponent(s) that make you
the best choice?
My commitment to results is what I want to bring to the At Large School
Board position for the citizens of Virginia Beach. Results and measured
success not statistics and lip service are what the citizens of Virginia
Beach deserve. I am not a politician and have no goal of future public
office. My focus is not clouded by political considerations or
affiliations. I will not follow the crowd when issues need to be addressed.
I ask the hard questions to get facts. Then, I will base my decisions on
those facts and not expediency. I will drive the School Administration to
focus on efficiency, effectiveness and lean operations.
What are your views on the country's "No Child Left Behind" initiative?
"No Child Left Behind" requires all government-run schools receiving federal
funding to perform statewide-standardized testing annually in order to
receive Title I funding through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
of 1965. Schools systems must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in test
scores to show improvement. I believe that the focus on standardized
testing as a measurement tool encourages teachers to teach to the test and
increase performance results, rather than focus on students acquiring a full
understanding of the subject. The Virginia Department of Education announced
the following regarding a waiver granted to Virginia for "No Child Left
Behind": "The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), following a formula
approved by the Board of Education and the US Department of Education
(USED), has established new annual benchmarks for raising achievement in the
commonwealth's lowest-performing schools. The new annual objectives in
reading and mathematics replace the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets
schools were previously required to meet under the federal No Child Left
Behind Act. Under the provisions of the two-year flexibility waiver granted
by USED on June 29, ambitious but achievable annual measurable objectives
(AMOs) have been set for student subgroups, including new 'proficiency gap
groups' comprising students who historically have had difficulty meeting the
commonwealth's achievement standards." In my opinion this approach just
lowers standards for the sake of improved test scores at the expense of
educating the student. The spirit of "No Child Left Behind" is a righteous
one. However, the educational bureaucracy has captured the program. The
solution lies with our teachers who, if involved in curriculum creation and
allowed to use their skills, can teach students the subject. This approach
arms students with the knowledge of the course material, critical thinking
skills, and the tools to pass the SOLs without teaching to the test.
What resources are you willing to support to eliminate the graduation gap of
black males in the school system?
Over the course of my personal and professional life I have seen many
opportunities to help people improve. To improve the graduation rate of
black males in the system, I would recommend the following plan. Any
program to improve anything requires a true commitment by the administration
and school staff to bring it to the individuals. The guidance departments at
most schools offer an excellent resource to assist with the program I would
recommend. The first task is to identify the students at risk. Then enlist
teachers and administrators within each high school (preferably male) to act
as mentors. Real one-on-one mentoring is invaluable. Each mentor would
have a guidance counselor partner who would also participate in the process.
Mentoring would occur during study blocks or other free time during the
school year. Also, mentors would arrange for one field trip per year to
expose the students to the realities of the workplace. The overall goal of
the program is to support the value of a High School diploma to these young
Teacher Assistants Cafeteria workers, security assistants, bus drivers and
Custodians are often overlooked, undervalued, underrepresented and underpaid
in this school system, with regard to decisions being made. They do not get
a fair deal regarding pay increases, educational incentive plans and health
care share costs are often too expensive. What are your plans to address
these concerns and issues?
For all the employees mentioned in the question, a level playing field needs
to be established. Consideration of these employees with better incentives
in the future is essential. I have personally seen where motivated workers
in these categories improve our facilities, logistics, safety, and overall
operations of our schools. Improving their pay and benefits should solicit
their respect and loyalty. In order to energize these workers further, they
have to feel as if they are part of the team, not just a secondary activity.
So Administration from the top down needs to involve them in the school year's
game plan. As a School Board member I would be their advocate within the