Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interview with MTUESD School Board candidate Troy Williams

Why are you running for MTUESD School Board?
A school board is mainly responsible for:
     Setting the direction of the district schools, through a long-term vision plan
     Creating and maintaining an organizational structure for that vision
     Giving support to the superintendent, teachers, and staff
     Maintaining financial sustainability
     Keeping everyone focused on the two real goals:
           Student well-being
          Success in learning and achievement
I have three children in the district this year, and a fourth who will be there next fall.  I would like to actively participate, through board membership, in preparing all students of our community for their future.  Opportunities we haven’t yet envisioned for them, and educational situations, far greater than we can imagine now, are still yet to be discovered.  I would like to help our community bring forth even more excellence in education than we have now for our kids over these next innovative years.

 What, do you feel, are your qualifications?
 As a longtime resident of Calaveras County, I have ties that run deep within both Copperopolis and Angels Camp communities.  And, as an alumnus of Mark Twain and Bret Harte, I have an understanding of the history and values that mean so much to the people of this area.

In developing my own business these last fifteen years, predominantly large-scale commercial construction projects over Northern California, I have learned how to work with people of many dispositions, backgrounds, and educational levels.  I have also learned to be a strong listener, and discovered that there is great value in varied ideas and opinions.  Differing points of view can often open doors to a greater good.  Because I have employed and managed hundreds of people over the years, I have learned to build solid relationships, even in negotiations and other potential challenging situations.  I can offer strong people skills and a solid background in business, including experience in dealing with large budgets and contracts, as well as knowledge of construction and facilities planning and maintenance.

What will you bring to the Board that you feel will make a difference?
As an active member of this community, I am in a position to be a liaison among parents, teachers, classified staff, administrators, and board members.  I am able to listen openly, convey the ideas and opinions of others, and make decisions with a whole picture before me.

What are your feelings on the common core teaching methods being utilized currently?
Though the Common Core concept of teaching has been a controversial topic, by educating ourselves on the standards, we will understand these expectations are being implemented to better prepare our children for college and the work force. Common Core concepts include problem solving skills necessary for professions not yet created. Educators I have spoken with are confident that these teaching methods will better prepare our children for higher level skills. I believe we have an excellent group of talented teachers in our district and I trust in their professionalism to implement these standards as they educate our children.

What are your three overall priorities if you are elected?
I have two priorities: (1) Listen, listen, and listen. My job as a board member is to listen to the concerns of the school site staff and parents, to become informed as to the needs of students, parents, staff, and administrators. (2) Become well informed so that decisions can be made that keep the well-being and academic success of students our major focus.

Does your district have a Local Control and Accountability Plan? If so, please explain how this plan works.
Yes, the district has a plan in place, and it can be found on the Mark Twain Union School District website.  The LCAP is a comprehensive planning tool with a set of educational goals and the specific actions taken by educators to achieve these required goals.

 Do you support or oppose expanded public education to include preschool in our district?
I have a four year old son currently in preschool.  I believe this is where he needs to be at this point in his young life. The preschool program is three days per week for four hours a day with a strong emphasis on experiences, social skills, and kindergarten preparedness at an appropriate developmental pace.  I am not opposed to expanded education of a preschool program in our public education, however, I do believe that such a program needs to support these toddlers and not push them to grow up faster than they should. A public preschool program should meet them where they are at that phase of life, and not be a substitute for a daycare program. They get to enjoy this young phase of life for such a short period of time. Let’s not push them to grow faster than they already do.

Are you familiar with Vergara v California? What is your understanding of this case and what is your position on tenure?
I am familiar with this case and I believe there is reform needed in teacher tenure and layoff procedures.  The decision is currently stayed, pending appeal.  It was based on “grossly ineffective teachers obtaining and retaining permanent employment, and that these teachers are disproportionately situated in schools serving predominantly low-income and minority students.” This case, however, may have a powerful impact on many good teachers as well as those new to the profession.  Teachers deserve to have reasonable protections against arbitrary dismissal, which this case may induce.  On the other hand, districts also need a mechanism to dismiss an under-performing teacher, after support and training has been ineffective, without costing the district thousands of dollars and a burdensome amount of time.  The Court of Appeals will render a future decision regarding these issues.

Personal Statement:
I believe we have a highly qualified and effective group of teachers and support staff in our district. It is an honor to have them in the lives of my own children, as well as the lives of my extended family members.  My wife and I love that about our schools and this incredible community.  My wife Rebecca and I chose to return to Angels Camp after our first son was born, because we wanted Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and Calaveras County people to help form the values and successes of our children.  We believe in the goodness of this small community, where hard-working people volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to enrich the lives of young people. The day will come, all too soon, when our children, and yours, will go out into the world on their own. We want each one prepared for a life well lived; our schools partner with us to create that end.  I would like to support this ultimate goal as a board member where well informed decision-making can help us all with that goal.