With no Voter Pamphlet for the May 18th local district elections this year, KPEW is expanding its election coverage. We’re asking all candidates four standard questions. Today we hear from Harry Sanger, a candidate for the Eugene school board #4 J board of directors. And our first question is: Please tell us about yourself and why you’re running.
Harry Sanger: [00:00:28] Thanks, John. First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to share with you. KPEW provides an important service elevating the voice of neighbors in our community. So I’m running to support our number one priority: The district’s children and elevating the voice of parents concerned with giving all students the opportunity to be back in the classroom, learning in person.
I’m a parent of two students enrolled in 4J for the upcoming academic year, and I’m running to help ensure our experience of the past year is never repeated. The past year has divided a nation, but our path forward comes through assuming the best in others and striving to achieve unity.
My wife and I teach our children that all people are created as equals and that we should approach every interaction with kindness. We teach not to treat others differently because their appearance and look for the school system to do the same. We must come together to embrace the entire diversity of viewpoints in our community.
As a board member of the River Road Community Organization, and member of the Neighborhood Plan Community Advisory Committee, I’m currently entrusted with the responsibility of engaging North Eugene neighbors and representing their concerns at a community level. One concern that I’ve heard is whether we commit to standardized testing this year and inherent challenges of remote learning over the past year impacted our most vulnerable students: Those with individualized education plans, English as a second language, large families and working parents who lack the resources to provide a personal learning experience during the school day. Opportunities for talented and gifted students were also reduced during this trying time. Testing provides the necessary metrics for the district and each school to measure the magnitude of these impacts and ensure appropriate great responses. Avoiding testing because it takes away in person learning days prevents us from holding the state and district accountable for the impact of closing schools and nearly eliminating just that this past year. It is important that we approach this with the understanding that academic achievement is not the only positive measure of student success and that some of our children can excel in non-traditional pathways.
We should expand our notions of success and include appreciation for education in the trades and alternative curriculum to help reduce the high pressure environment created by these tests in the past. The ultimate focus is preparing Eugene’s children for a successful transition to their next stage In life. We work to ensure they’re prepared for an evolving world full of challenges and surprises. This preparation can take a variety of forms and 4J has historically done well offering flexible pathways to success. Expanding CTE programs can help ensure that all high school freshmen and sophomores are able to fill their schedules with classes that appeal to their interests and strengths.
John Quetzalcoatl Murray: [00:02:51] What is the most important issue facing your district in the upcoming term?
Harry Sanger: [00:02:58] Yeah, that’s a great question. The most important issue facing this district is getting back on track. We need to put in the work required to ensure a successful integration back into the classroom, identifying and allocating the resources necessary for this transition for the students, as well as for teachers and staff. COVID based restrictions should be evaluated for their impact on mental health, and we should be working to reduce that impact, even if it does not follow the expected guidance,
John Quetzalcoatl Murray: [00:03:25] If elected, what would you do differently than your opponent?
Harry Sanger: [00:03:30] Yeah. So most importantly, I try not to use the term opponent because we’re both running to better serve our community. And at the end of the day, it isn’t about winning or losing, but about that service. But with that said the primary differences between the other candidate for position two and myself, is that I believe our path to a successful 2122 school year relies on returning students to as many class days in class as feasible.
I do believe that we shouldn’t spend so much effort on equity, that we lose sight of our traditional quest for equality. The hybrid learning approach achieves neither and puts both students at a disadvantage. It puts too many students at a disadvantage, whether because of a single working parent, multiple siblings on different schedules, lack of access to transportation, or technology.
Individualized needs not getting the necessary attention, language barriers, mental health challenges, unreported domestic violence, or any other factor that our reliable education system has been built over decades to provide for the community. I have a background in technology and have seen how technology can be a useful tool, but it should not be the only basis for our learning.
We need to reduce screen time and open schools. I will also work to improve board communications, providing more access to families, to express concerns or accolades and engage in bilateral conversations to improve our community.
John Quetzalcoatl Murray: [00:04:42] Anything else you would like to say to the voters?
Harry Sanger: [00:04:46] Yeah. In my experience, working to support neighbors in our community, I’ve learned that my opinion is not more or less important than that of my neighbors. I learned by listening to what others are saying. And encourage anyone with an opinion on how to make our school board work best for students in the community to reach out to HJFor4J@gmail.com or engage HJfor4J on Facebook. Thank you.