Last week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.
Here is the unedited response from Chaz Crismon:
I am currently a stay-at-home dad of a 1st grader with special needs. I volunteer at Hoffman-Boston Elementary where I see my son happily learning. My talents include teaching Social Studies, speaking Spanish and Portuguese, listening and building trust.
As a young parent, I am a natural choice to work with parents as they make educational decisions for their kids. I will effectively collaborate with parent groups seeking stronger relationships with the School Board. I am the only candidate who will be a PTA parent throughout my four-year term. Our leadership team will build trust with a young parent like me on board.
We should have a licensed public school teacher on the board. I share the progressive Democratic values of our revered departing educator. On a full-time and part-time basis, I have taught Social Studies, English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Elementary Spanish Immersion classrooms. I will make sure we support our teachers so they can continue doing great work! Our current board is losing its best teacher liaison. Our leadership team will build trust with a public school teacher like me on board.
As I listen to citizens, I find many who are happy with our schools. Most trust we will do better. These are my priorities:
We need more fairness in our school system.
I want to revamp the lottery system so it gives all parents of entering students an equal chance of enrolling at a choice school available to them. The current system favors in-the-know codebreakers. Access to quality special education, gifted services, arts, language and science programming should be consistent across all our schools.
We need more space for instruction and creative play.
Our classrooms are spilling into alcoves, workrooms, and auditoriums. We have successfully reconfigured and expanded existing school sites, but we must work with the County Board on better solutions now. I have more than a decade of experience as a real estate professional. We will acquire private land and build a new school in a welcoming neighborhood. We must be aggressive and vigilant, so we can take advantage of buying opportunities. My parents in Arizona gave up a farm to a freeway and two business locations to an arts district. Their properties were never for sale, but Arizona got it done. Arlington can get it done too in a way advantageous to all. It takes time to close such deals, but I will make sure our county leaders do not drag their feet. I will enjoy solving our real estate problems.
We need more inclusion opportunities for disabled students.
Creative staffing solutions are necessary to accommodate the unique needs of students. We must provide more support for students with special needs in general education settings.
We need to close the achievement gap.
We must hire and retain the best teachers and support staff. As we respect and cultivate ties to the home culture and languages of students, the achievement gap will narrow.
I will work to address the unique needs of each child by actively engaging with the community and the superintendent’s office on a fulltime basis. I will work to harness the power of volunteerism to benefit all our schools. We should expand the reach of our existing volunteer networks to bring in more help from people less connected to our schools.
I have run the gauntlet of challenging leadership and academic training, as an Eagle Scout/Boy Scout Leader, an LDS missionary in the Dominican Republic, a Stanford grad, a Marriott credit manager in Peru after 9/11, a Thunderbird MBA, and an entrepreneur. After overcoming a bout of cancer, I wound down my real estate company to devote myself to education. My rigorous teacher training program saw almost 2 in 3 people quit. I completed my program on time even as I dealt with cancer treatment. Today, cancer-free, I am as optimistic as ever that I can make a difference. I have had the tremendous support of my wife, church and Arlington Public Schools to pull me through many challenges. I know the difference a good public preschool and bus service can make for a struggling family. I feel blessed to be able to run hard with the talents and time I have to share. The School Board needs my energetic new parent and teacher perspective to serve students.
If you value grit, determination, and experience working with and helping people of all backgrounds and circumstances, then vote Chaz D. Crismon for School Board.