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The slate is diverse, ranging from a higher education teacher to a retired Naval commander. All are vying for one thing: the chance to represent the Pocket neighborhood on the SCUSD School Board.
Five candidates met at a forum on Tuesday evening at the School of Engineering and Sciences to make their case as best representative for SCUSD District 6 Board Member. The forum was organized by the Didion/Lewis Park Recreational Center Committee and moderated by Michael Langley, editor of Pocket Online.
The biggest topic of reform referred to teachers.
"Everything is in instruction," said Sharon Owens-Thomas. "We probably have one-third high performing teachers in the district, another third mediocre, and another third that are underperforming."
"The first thing we have to do is change the way that we bring teachers into this system."
This feeling was echoed by other candidates.
"It's sad to say, but there are a lot of teachers that are excellent and phenomenal, and there are a few teachers who are not," said Shane Singh.
Darrel Woo, whose qualification as a teacher came under question last week, took a somewhat different approach.
"I'm not in favor of throwing out the baby with the bathwater," said Woo. "What I am in favor of is making our teachers better teachers, making our parents stand up for their children, and making our children responsible for their education as well."
Robert Barton looked at reform in terms of motivation.
"Reform is to help leaders in charge of schools, not administrators," said Barton. "The Principal's role is to inspire, to lead, to train, to motivate; it's all about leadership at the school."
"You don't fire the teachers, you motivate them."
The topic of teachers led to the inevitable discussion regarding labor unions.
"We need school reform, we need to work with the unions to try to somehow phase out these teachers who are no longer motivated," said Rob Gunn.
In regards to unions, Singh discussed tenure and proposed training, something Owens-Thomas took exception to.
"How much training can we have," asked Owens-Thomas. "I don't wan't see another training program. What I want is to grade highly effective teachers in the classroom."
Singh suggested having a gauge to measure teacher performance, and Owens-Thomas was quick to point one out.
"I'm sorry Mr. Singh but we do have a gauge in Sac City Unified," responded Owens-Thomas. "They're called benchmarks."
In the end, all the candidates shared a common goal.
"Let's make our teachers better teachers," said Woo. "Let's make them the best teachers they can be for our children."
Both District 7 Councilmember Candidates Ryan Chin and Darrel Fong were on hand for the meeting.
Representatives from Mayor Kevin Johnson's office were also in attendance.
Visit Pocket Online for more information regarding the candidates and audio clips from the forum.