The Coronado Times is conducting short interviews with all candidates for Coronado Unified School District board of trustees. All candidates have received the same six questions and the answers are in their own words; each candidate is invited to share photos; interviews are published in the order received. November 8, 2022 is election day.
Q: What experience will you bring to the school board?
A: As a physician and Orthopedic Surgeon, I have been part of what is essentially a perpetual academic setting, to include 20 years of formal schooling and 6 years of surgical training. For the last 14 years, I was a faculty instructor at the largest Orthopedic residency program in the U.S. Navy, with 25 residents, including 7 years as the Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Balboa Navy Hospital. I was honored to have received the Resident Teaching Award in 2018, selected by the residents as the best faculty instructor. My 25 years of active duty service in the Navy, with ample leadership and deployment experience, would all bring a unique perspective to the Board. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I bring the experience and perspective as a parent, as our three children have been constantly enrolled in CUSD.
Q: In your mind, what are the biggest challenges facing CUSD today?
A: Perhaps the biggest challenge facing CUSD is the crisis of confidence, shared by many in our community, in the governing School Board itself. Their contentious responses to issues such as ‘Tortillagate’, mask mandates for children, other pandemic related policies, and even the manner in which they adopted the ‘4X4’ block scheduling have shaken the community’s faith in the Board. Indeed, judging from enrollment numbers, approximately 400 students have been pulled by their parents from the District over the last two years. Parents have voted with their feet. It seems everyone knows someone who has pulled their children out of our public schools, and sought education elsewhere. We need to restore our focus on academic achievement for every student, restore responsible governance to the Board, and get back to the basics.
Q: What is something CUSD does well?
A: As a group, the CUSD teachers are outstanding. They have an excellent reputation among parents, who hold them in high regard. This makes the manner in which the Board approved the 4X4 schedule even more remarkable, in that it was done despite ‘near unanimous’ opposition by the Coronado High School teachers. As a Board Trustee, my number one budget priority will be to seek and retain the highest quality classroom teachers, and reduce class sizes if at all possible.
Q: How do you feel about local control?
A: Local control is essential to responsive and effective government, in that the decision makers are as close as possible to the effects of an approved policy. School districts in California are unique, in that they retain more legal authority and independence than other government entities. It is critical that Board Trustees critically review each policy received by the District, before adoption or implementation. In the event a policy does not represent the views of the community or would harm the education of our students, it is incumbent on the Board to resist or reject it when and if possible.
Q: What is your stance on social-emotional learning? Do you think that teaching children empathy, responsible decision making and emotional awareness is important in schools?
A: The focus of our schools needs to be on academics. While beneficial character traits and behavior are important to model, these issues are best left to parents to instill in their children. Furthermore, those advocating ‘therapeutic education’ necessarily ask the classroom teacher to become a social worker, counselor, pastor, or therapist, which are roles in which they are not fully trained, and would inevitably detract from academics.
Q: As you must be aware, school board meetings can be contentious, but it’s important for board members to work together. Do you think you are good at building consensus? Please provide an example if possible.
A: During my career in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, I was able to rise to the rank of Captain, and held many leadership positions along the way. While rank provides the ability to simply give an order, the best way to achieve something in an organization is to build consensus among all stakeholders and get everyone’s ‘buy-in’. This process often takes longer and can be labor intensive, but typically achieves greater long-term success. By listening to contrarian opinions, the final product is often improved. I firmly believe in reviewing the best available evidence, letting everyone have their voice, and having a data-centric discussion on any issue facing the Board or our schools. I hope to bring such a collaborative process to the Board should I have the honor of being elected. Thank you for your consideration. Please learn more at www.Youngblood4Coronado.com.