CUSD candidates’ forum: Charles Gardner

By on Tue, October 5, 2004


Hello, fellow Coastsiders - My name is Charles Gardner and I’m a Candidate for the Cabrillo Unified School District in the election this November.

My primary focus is on the educational needs of our students. I live in Montara, and have twin eight year olds in Farallone View Elementary. I would like to see they have an opportunity to attend the new middle school we voted for in 1996. But just as important, I feel it vital to maintain and improve our curriculum, challenge our students with enrichment programs, and support our teachers and services. The quality of life we deserve here on the Coastside, as well as the legacy we can leave for our children, is my calling to service.

I ask that you take a minute to read my position statement, and please vote in the upcoming election.

1. Curriculum

During times of economic "tightness", it is difficult for a candidate to advance "new", or additional programs.  But it is always possible to look at a problem from a different perspective, to be creative, and to try new technologies, or adopt different methods.

Every year the Board develops a vision for its schools using district goals and objectives which are reviewed annually.  These goals provide the framework for decision and policy making.  In 2004-2005, the Board will start planning for a 5 year set of strategic goals. I strongly support this endeavor and hope that this will be an impetus for a new cycle of improvements in our schools. This will be a continuing "work in progress" similar to the cycle depicted below:

NW Regional Educational Laboratory

A. Teachers are the Key

Let’s support them with competitive salaries, a quality working environment, and a supportive administrative team, and good home-to-school communication. In hard budgetary times, we should prioritize the infusion of as many dollars as possible into the classroom. Here are some other focus points I would promote:

  • Support New teachers - Beginning Teacher support - in the profession. New teachers are the most at risk.
  • Evaluate new teachers - have high standards and good communication and have accountability.
  • Support the State mandated & New teacher assessment program
  • Support INTEREST-BASED BARGAINING-  we’re all in the same boat together.

B. Standards

I support the vision of higher academic standards at all grade levels, increased high school graduation requirements, and an alignment of district curriculum with state standards in language, arts, math, science and social studies.  At the secondary schools, I will support and encourage classroom programs in music and fine arts and a flourishing program in agricultural science. Being the son of a World Book encyclopedia salesperson, I wholeheartedly support a strong emphasis in literacy programs believing that reading is a key fundamental to future success.

C. Improvement

Federal and State mandates require our schools to improve test scores, which I feel can only be accomplished through attention to the basic fundamentals of education.

Here are some ways we can explore those opportunities:

  • Investigate innovative ways to bring in more money
  • Involve parents (the largest predictor of student success) in the process.
  • Encourage differentiated instruction - challenge every child at their
  • own level…
  • Increase the amount of reading
  • Review statistical test data… and incorporate improvements based on
  • analysis of strengths and weaknesses
  • Increase graduation requirements & Emphasize mechanisms that encourage and enable all children to be able to enroll in college
  • Increase number of children in AP courses
  • Literacy Progams - Every Child a Reader/ Writer
  • Support second language learners and challenge them.. they have the greatest need but also the greatest opportunity
  • Support Spanish families with Special Spanish meetings- times- translators
  • Continuation of our collaborative program that supports families, physical and mental health programs, breakfast programs, and health insurance.
  • Adult Education classes provide continuing opportunities for parents

2. New Middle School

I believe our community is in desperate need to build a new middle school and provide additional elementary classrooms. I have reviewed the history and criteria of the site selection process since 1995, and I am convinced the new middle school site at Wavecrest is the best, most constructive option of all the alternatives. My research indicates this site was selected by a process of public debate, recommended by a community-representative site selection committee, supported by the Half Moon Bay City Council, and ratified by the current school board and development partners. I do not believe my role as a newly elected board member would be to derail the arduous process that has already been put in place. My role will be to facilitate the making of the new school a reality for our children.

A new, modern facility will help prepare our children for the 21st century by providing the level of education they so richly deserve. A multitude of benefits will be derived from having a facility that can attract and keep good teachers, as well as provide a variety of academic and curricular benefits. The new school, permanent recreational fields, a Boys and Girls Club, What I bring to the table is the ability to plan for shared infrastructure costs, do good engineering and designing for "best-value" I can make sure we get the best "bang for our buck". It’s what I do for a living.

4. Accountability

There is little doubt that our educational system of today is extremely challenging- limited financial resources, high stakes testing, a heterogeneous socioeconomic mixture of students and families, two-working parent families, and high expectations.  Many find it easy to criticize our system, find fault with our current board, and complain about lack of funding. What’s not easy is to build a plan and consensus, create workable solutions, and effectively communicate with your constituents. It’s not just about holding more open meetings, it’s about being a leader that can make difficult decisions, decisions that can provide the best benefit for those intended, our students. I believe as a board member, I have the ability to communicate the reasoning for decisions made, and have the character to be accountable for those decisions.

5. Moving Forward

The opposite of backward. Our educational system as a whole, and particularly here on the Coastside, can benefit from regular "tune-ups", but we are not, as some would have us believe, in a perennial crisis. We have a good system in place. There are many unsung heroes that devote a tremendous amount of time and energy in a variety of ways to our student and educational community. We have a lot to be thankful for. My commitment as an elected board member would be to maintain our focus on education (not land use), our children, and the quality of life here on the Coastside.

I hope this has been helpful to you in determining who I am, and what my priorities will be if elected to the school board. I appreciate the opportunity to serve my community, and I will be thankful for your vote and support this November.

If you would like to contact me for further discussion, I can be reached via e-mail at [email protected] , or phone (650) 296-3777.

Charles M. Gardner