Tuesday, October 31, 2017

School Board Candidates

Here are the seven candidates running for School Board, listed on the ballot as Norristown Area School Director. You’ll vote for no more than four. Their comments below came from the candidate’s forum last spring. They were all asked what issues they believed most important for the position. Here are their answers (alphabetical order, to be fair). Remember, you can also write-in candidates.

SHAE ASHE is running as a Democrat. He listed three issues that he wants to work on: special needs funding, which Congress keeps threatening to cut off every time they talk about healthcare; the NASD budget; and the false perception that NASD schools are not as good as other districts. Shae, as most of you know, founded The Norristown Project and has worked most of his life in some way or other with the Montco OIC. He now works for Congressman Brendan Boyle and has a degree in finance.

KATHLEEN BELLO is running as a Republican. She also listed false perceptions and poor attitudes as a main issue, as well as poor healthcare and nutrition effecting the ability to learn. She was very positive about the district. She believes NASD’s diversity of staff, students and administration is our greatest strength. Her background is nursing, but she also taught at Central Montco, so she’s been in a classroom.

JOHN C. HOLLAND, Republican, said that drugs and gangs were the major issues, which he says he knows because he can see them from his house on Freedley St. (He seemed unaware that the police are in charge of these issues, not the NASD board, and that the NPD has juvenile officers in the schools.) He also said that students should be required to create peace posters for the Lions Club Contest. He’s retired.

TUREA HUTSON, Democrat, is currently on the School Board. Her issues were funding and educational mandates from the State and Federal levels, that the board and community needs to have realistic expectations given current funding, and that collaboration is important. She was an assistant teacher for 7 years and now is a manager for Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

JOHN MAXEY, Republican, said the main problems were lack of community support for the schools, lack of communication with the community, and high property taxes. He graduated Norristown High School a year ago and is currently a full-time college student at Temple.

MATT RIVERA, Democrat, is currently on the school board. He said he couldn’t “hyper-focus on any one issue.” Instead he told us, at length, that we should vote for his “team” (he, Shae Ashe, Turea Hutson and Jamila Winder are running as a team, which only means that they’re sharing campaign expenses ~ they still appear separately on the ballot and should be considered by the voters to be separate candidates. There are no running mates on the School Board). I wish I could tell you how he feels about issues facing the schools, but I can’t.

JAMILA WINDER, Democrat, also listed the poor perception of NASD as an issue, as well as the career and college readiness of the graduates. Said the School Board needs to advocate for the students. She’s an Executive Director at Laureate Online Education (part of Laureate Education Inc, the world’s largest for-profit college company, which operates colleges mainly outside of the US, according to Forbes). I personally believe her employment creates a conflict of interest that voters ought to question (that is, she earns money at an institution that recruits students from schools like Norristown High. Like a car dealer applying for a job on the board of a drivers’ school).

That’s it for School Board Candidates. The election is November 7, one week from today.

UPDATE: Jamila Winder sent me an email with this statement:

"While you are correct that Laureate Education is a for-profit education company, it will not be a conflict of interest because we do not recruit high school students. Walden University, who I work for, is designed to help working adults achieve the ultimate dream of earning a degree... I personally work to develop strategic partnerships with employers who wish to partner with Walden to support professional development initiatives."

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