High Desert Education Candidates Seek Votes
By Dianne Anderson
With just a month away to the big Election Day, everyone has their eyes peeled for their pamphlet in the mail, which most voters should already have by now, along with voting ballots mailed by October 5.
For those not yet registered to vote, or are unsure if registered, can check online at https://registertovote.ca.gov/. October 19 is the absolute deadline, but even those that wait until the last minute can request a Same Day Voter Registration.
In the coming days, voters will be looking to learn more about their local candidates who will fill many seats, including those important education seats running down the ballot.
Christine Turner for School Board – Adelanto Elementary School District
Christine Turner said that distance education implementation remains the top challenge facing all districts, particularly for early grades, but especially now as students, parents and teachers adapt to new learning models.
“We’re all new to this, it’s happening all over the world, it’s more difficult for our younger age children, kinder and preschoolers. Sitting in front of a computer is a challenge in and of itself,” said Turner, Adelanto School District board of trustees member At-large.
Starting out the school year with the distance learning model was difficult, but she said the priority must continue to be on keeping the children safe and healthy as the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. For as many problems associated with internet access, she has been encouraged to see the high school district providing hotspot buses going into remote Adelanto areas to provide internet access.
But in the High Desert, her concern is lack of access to transportation within the traditional school year, which may be contributing to declining enrollment. She said other districts are facing a similar enrollment challenge.
“We’re being proactive, getting a team together to go out knocking on doors for our students. It’s not as bad as it could be, but we need more students online or in independent study,” she said.
Currently, she said they are in early talks with the superintendent about getting buses on the road to prepare for the time when the traditional school resumes.
“We’re going to use our transportation [department], and bus drivers mainly to be involved in that. We can’t have our kids sitting at home without an education, COVID, or not. We have to get them up,” she said.
There are so many pressing issues, but she is particularly proud of how the district has been able to provide for the community, not only for education, but also to help meet the growing local food need.
“In our community, joblessness, that’s affecting everyone’s community. We still do food distributions for our students every Monday for the week,” she said.
Mina Blazy for Victor Valley Union High School District Board
Where some people see big challenges facing the Victor Valley Union High School District, Dr. Mina Blazy sees opportunities for change.
Her top concerns include student academic achievement, keeping the district fiscally sound, and she wants all staff to feel respected with access to equity in the decision-making process.
Blazy is a parent with one student in the VVUHSD, and two who have graduated. But, she feels that all students and their families must also have a voice for their children.
She said her own children have received a wonderful education in the district because she has been able to maintain a consistent “voice” in education. However, she hears other parents in the community share their concerns that their children are put down in, or outside, of the classroom.
“Families may be involved in activities but there is little to no engagement. Families that learn with the district feel a sense of pride and a responsibility towards VVUHSD,” said Blazy, principal at Gus Franklin STEM Academy.
Students who are respected and develop positive relationships with school staff and teachers are in the best position to succeed, she added. They are prepared for college or career by the end of their high school experience.
Blazy said that clear student instruction must be prioritized, as well as up to date technology, clean and safe schools, counseling, and giving staff the tools needed to ensure students are academically, behaviorally and emotionally successful.
Having a strong middle and high school experience empowers students to return to work in their communities, she said.
She wants to give a voice to the Victorville community, working with students, teachers, administrators, classified staff and board.
“We need to do what is best for students,” she said. “We have an opportunity and a duty to educate children so that they are able to contribute to the community they live in. It is not about “us” [the board],” she said.
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