October 1, 2004

School Board Candidates seek stability for San Ysidro

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

After a turbulent year in the San Ysidro School District, the November 2 elections offer an opportunity to the people of San Ysidro to elect two new board members.

The four candidates will have to convince the community that the children’s education comes before everything else.

The candidates are Joshua Castro, an instructional aide in the District; Eduardo Esco-bedo, an architect who has worked in construction pro-jects for the District; Raquel Marquez, an educational consultant who attended San Ysidro schools from preschool to middle school; and Paul W. Randolph, a psychologist whose daughter is a student in the District.

The San Ysidro Governing Board is composed of five members. They serve for periods of four years and receive a monthly stipend of $220. They also receive health benefits as well as the opportunity to attend educational conferences.

The two incumbents are Ernestine Jones and Luis Figueroa. Figueroa has said he decided against running for reelection due to family matters. Earlier this year, parents were organizing a recall campaign against both Jones and Figueroa, but it didn’t go through because of community support.

The main issue in this race is stability. The District has had three superintendents in less than two years, and, some parents and community leaders have pointed, some Board members don’t care about the children’s education.

La Prensa contacted the four candidates so that they could present themselves to the community. Joshua Castro and Eduardo Escobedo didn’t reply to La Prensa’s invitation to participate in this forum. The top two vote getters will represent San Ysidro residents on the school board.

The following are Raquel Marquez’s and Paul W. Ran-dolph’s answers to La Prensa’s questionare.

Raquel Marquez, 24, education consultant.

1.  Why should you be elected to the San Ysidro School District Board?

I have a unique position as a candidate in this race as I am the only candidate who has lived here all my life, been the child of 2 district employees, been educated within the district, gone through the transition to Sweetwater School District for my high school education and returned to work as a classified employee.  I know the dynamics, the strong points and the weak points of our district. I know where the district helped me and failed me. I am proud of the success I achieved in my educational career, but I want to make my success the norm, not the exception for San Ysidro students.

2.  What are the three biggest challenges the District faces at this time, and how would you respond to these challenges?

The fiscal restraints that all of California is currently facing in regards to allocating resources to budgetary line items.  This is going to be an ongoing balancing act to make sure we satisfy each of the areas that require funding.  This will take compromise and negotiation between everyone.  This is a time to work together and not against each other.

The creation of a non-exclusive education for all our students particularly in preparing Spanish speakers for integration into our school system. It is key for us not to leave behind our Spanish-speaking students. However, it is equally important that we teach to all, and not sacrifice the education of one group at the expense of another, be it the English or the Spanish speaking students. We must create a system that benefits all and prepares them for thelife that they are capable of leading.

Creating a positive atmosphere of potential.  This is one thing that I have talked about in my campaign at length.  I am very passionate about the potential that exists in every student that walks into a San Ysidro Pre-School on the first day of their academic career. I feel that not giving that child the opportunity to fulfill that potential by underestimating their abilities, and not pushing their boundaries of academic achievement is a crime. I feel that the district has failed to truly reveal the potential of many students that have been through the School District in the past.

3.  What do you bring to the Board?

I bring a sense of fairness to all in the district, I bring 24 years of experience of San Ysidro and I bring a passion for my community. I feel it is also important highlight things that I do not bring to the board - close-minded ideals, pre-arranged voting blocs, a personal agenda to gain favors for my friends and family within the district and the petty personal politics that has plagued the board in recent years.

4.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am the 3rd child out of 4 kids. I have two sisters and one brother. My mother works for the district and so did my late father before passing away in 1989. We have all been residents of San Ysidro our entire lives and hold great pride in our community. I have 2 nephews and 5 nieces all of which were, are, or will be students in the San Ysidro School District. I attended San Ysidro Schools from preschool to 8th grade and had there been a high school in the community at the time I would have attended it also. I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and plan to pursue a Masters degree in the future. For now my focus is the students in San Ysidro.

5.  The vast majority of the children in San Ysidro are of Mexican descent. The majority of these children are English learners. What would you do, as a Board member, to help these children improve academically?

I am very proud of my Mexican heritage and my ability to speak and write Spanish. However, I believe it is important that if people of my culture are to prosper as residents and citizens of the United States, that learning in English effectively is key to their long-term educational, and subsequently life, success. I believe that teaching them English as quickly as possible is key to this. The resources need to be allocated to this to achieve this. I think it is also important that these students do not lose their ability to speak and write linguistically correct Spanish is important, as this is a marketable skill they will be able to take into the workforce as well as the basis of their English education.

6.  What does the teachers and classified employees support mean?

They have already given me and Dr. Paul Randolph their support. They know that I understand the needs of both groups and will actively pursue to satisfying these needs. I believe that I have done a good job as I have already received both the teachers and the California School Employees Association official endorsement.

7. What are your plans for the next four years in San Ysidro?

I want to make the San Ysidro School District a place that people remember for the good progress it has made, not a place of petty personal disagreements. I want it to be a place where people comment on its individual success stories, and not on recall efforts. I want it to be a place where people feel comfortable to send their kids to be educated. I want San Ysidro to be a place where the teachers and the classified staff are hired on merit and not on who they know. I want San Ysidro to be a place that produces college graduates and not teen parents. This can be done if the community truly believes that success can be gained through education and its not some slogan that people see on a poster.  Can this be achieved in four years? I don’t know. Elect me and lets see if we can.

Paul W. Randolph, 37, psychologist.

1. Why should you be elected to the San Ysidro School District Board?

I am the only candidate who has been a regular attendee at School Board meetings during the last twelve months. I have increased my understanding of the issues and have given input when necessary to help shape the direction of our district. I have developed working relationships with Board members, Administrative personnel, teachers, and with classified staff. I believe I have established the necessary credibility to provide leadership within the school district. I’ve been involved in supporting the schools in other ways that also demonstrates my commitment to our public school system.

My only interest in running for the School Board is the betterment of children’s educational experience.

2. What are the three biggest challenges the District faces at this time, and how would you respond to these challenges?

The professionalism of the Board is a concern. I would work to build consensus and increase professionalism, so to replace the existing lack of civility, superintendent turnover, and recall attempts.

Performance accountability needs to be supported by the Board. Our children will have an excellent educational opportunity when the school district sets it’s expectations high for those in leadership roles and for the children we’re educating.

The San Ysidro School District needs stability. We need to work toward trusting our Superintendent and his staff to get the job done. I will focus on maintaining continuity in key leadership positions.

3. What do you bring to the Board?

My focus is on performance accountability, building trust, stability and ensuring our teachers, students, and staff have the curriculum and resources necessary for an excellent educational experience.

4. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My wife (a teacher) and children are in the San Ysidro School district. As a Psychologist working in a large organization (Scripps Hospitals and Scripps Clinics throughout San Diego County), I would bring skills in consensus and team building, performance management and conflict resolution, all of which would be very helpful in our school district. I have lived in the community for almost six years, I’m a homeowner, and I’m comitted to the community, to our children, and the teachers and staff that work in the school district.

5. The vast majority of the children in San Ysidro are of Mexican descent. The majority of these children are English learners. What would you do, as a Board member, to help these children improve academically?

We don’t meet the needs of our students who are English learners. We need to build a strong English Language Development (ELD) program. We need a strong bilingual program, modeled after structured bilingual programs that have been proven to be effective. As we look at how bilingual education is best implemented, we should consider implementing bilingual/dual immersion programs, so that all of our chidren have the opportunity to learn both English and Spanish.

6. Why does the teachers and classified employees support mean?

Raquel Marquez and myself are the only candidates who have received the official endorsement of the teachers and classified employees. This is the first time in recent memory that both the teachers and classified employees have endorsed the same two candidates. There is unity for the first time in a long time, as the teachers and classified staff understand that the only agenda we have is helping our children to have an excellent educational experience. The teachers and classified employees know that we will work in a professional manner and that we will work to build trust and stability for the School District.

7. What are your plans for the next four years in San Ysidro?

I hope to earn the privilege of serving as a School Board Member. As a Governing Board Member, I would provide oversight in a professional, ethical manner to ensure students have an excellent educational opportunity and our teachers and classified staff a great place to work.

With the continued development of Otay Mesa and the schools to be built in the future, we specifically need to develop a long-range master facilities plan with accompanying projections for teachers and classified staff who will need to be hired.

We should be looking at staff development opportunities, working on strengthening our curriculum, and listening to our teachers about how to do these things.

My plans include helping our children to raise their test scores, to be successful in High School and increasing their opportunities to go to college.

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