May 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Meet the candidate: Rick Hamilton

11 min read
Eugene school board candidate Rick Hamilton participated in the Community Alliance of Lane County parent-led forum May 11.

At the Community Alliance of Lane County parent-led forum, 4J candidate Rick Hamilton.

[00:00:05] Rick Hamilton: I’m running for a school board primarily because there appears to be a lack of prioritizing students first, first and foremost. That is my passion more than anything else. And when we address issues like achievement and we look at some of the numbers, we see that at one point the district itself was arguably one of the best districts in the state, academically speaking, and now it’s on the slide.

[00:00:34] And I would say that primarily if you have a great board and they’re communicating with one another, you can make all those critical decisions that would dictate whether or not we’re meeting the goals that we have set for our students. We’re not. And right now we’re not doing that.

[00:00:52] And I also feel like just by being more transparent and working together, the community will feel more confidence in the board as a whole. And then we can go forward with the input from the community and solve all these issues that we have, with space, with transparency, with integrity, and we can get our kids back where they belong, number one, and also bring the district back where belongs as number one.

[00:01:19] We know just by statistics that we have two high schools in particular in this district that have always been held in high esteem, not only in the state of Oregon, but also in the country, period. And it’s Sheldon and South in particular.

[00:01:34] And so what I look forward to doing is to getting us together and being on one accord, understanding what the true issues are, and prioritizing the students first, great communication, mutual respect. And then let’s take on the primary and the tough issues that are ahead of us for the next two to four years. And that is budget, special needs students, and to be inclusive of all students.

[00:02:01] Also to get the word out to parents regarding student behavior with policy. And we need to really look at the policy and see if the policies are being effective, and that’s all I have right now.

[00:02:12] Jacob Trewe: My name is Jacob Trewe. What is your position on police in schools? Do you believe that school resource officers (SROs) improve or impair school safety? Rick will answer this question first.

[00:02:26] Rick Hamilton: Well, first, first and foremost, I’ve been on both ends of that, and so I understand the issue with SROs in school and they’re not designed to be in schools for the first thing. They’re designed to be out in the community addressing criminals and calls and such, but by the same token, we want to make sure that our campuses are safe. So when I look at the rise in shootings, or not only on campuses, but in gatherings around the country, and I look at our schools here, the first thing I look at is that the current board did remove resource officers from the schools, from the campuses.

[00:03:12] And there was supposed to be a plan in effect. And as of now, there is no plan. And I understand that if you are going to come up with some type of safety plan, it needs to be in effect. It should be in effect now. And actually, I would never trade something for nothing. You had something in place, and even it’s going only going to be temporary, you should have made a plan to replace it.

[00:03:39] And that didn’t happen. And so now our campuses are very, very vulnerable. If I were on the board, I would move to get any and all options and place ’em all out on the table with agreement of other board members, and then through a process of elimination, deductive reasoning, come up with several options that are viable.

[00:04:01] Inform the public what our plans are and what the options might be, and then make a reasonable decision and defend that decision. But I would never agree to, like I said, remove something and replace it with nothing, especially when you’re looking at school safety.

[00:04:20] CALC parent-led forum: How will you ensure an equitable and quality education for students belonging to marginalized groups across the entire district, specifically talking about trans and BIPOC students?

[00:04:32] Rick Hamilton: Okay. I, I honestly, I honestly believe that we need to get more people, and when I say people, I mean teachers and community members, to really understand equity first and foremost. And equity means equal opportunity for everyone to excel in whatever channel in life they want to go into.

[00:04:57] They should have equal access to information and then everything else. And we really don’t practice that here. And my experience in Eugene has been that not only in the schools, but just in society itself, you, this area has not embraced true equity and diversity. And that is a huge problem, a huge problem.

[00:05:20] And each and every student is actually a unique situation in itself. And we need to educate our teachers more about that, as well as our students and as well as our administrative staff. And once we get to the point where we have truly defined equity and practice it, a lot of these issues will go away with the bathrooms.

[00:05:43] And also let’s not leave out special needs students who get taken out of classrooms and taken out of school based on the behavioral issue, when it actually wasn’t a behavioral issue, maybe it was a clinical issue. And so once we get to that point, then we can resolve all these issues as to how we get all of our students to excel in school math and reading and such.

[00:06:07] And that’s where we really need to start at. And a lot of times if we left it up to our kids from the very beginning, you’ll see that they’re more, they practice more of equity than any of us as adults do. Cause we carry things for the longest and we don’t let go. Some of us who have been victimized, we’re bitter, and some of us who have been misled, we tend to stay into those old habits.

[00:06:31] And so we fight more about it than our kids do. And our kids bring to school what they learn at home. And so equity starts with everyone understanding you and it starts with tolerance first, believe it or not. And I’ll just leave it at that.

[00:06:47] CALC parent-led forum: Currently special education staff at 4J schools are not properly trained. Will you vote to provide appropriate special education trainings and adequate staffing at all 4J schools, including charter schools?

[00:07:03] Rick Hamilton: Okay. I’ll be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about this, but I’ve talked to parents who would love to have their students who are excelling to have these accelerated classes.

[00:07:19] And yet you have students that don’t quite meet that maybe the degree of aptitude that needs an alternative to that. And with the current budgetary issues being presented to most school districts, then the question is what does the data look like right now? And can we afford to do both?

[00:07:46] And I can’t answer that question. I would leave it to the experts who are the teachers, and they know more than probably any of us do about that subject. And I would defer that to the teachers and the administrators.

[00:07:58] And let’s look at the numbers. Let’s look at how we could possibly achieve both for those who want to have the accelerated classes and those who want to stay in the other areas there. So I would say that’s where I am with it. I would like to learn a lot more about it. And hopefully if I was to come on the board, like I’ve said before, I would do more listening than I would speaking in areas that I don’t have the expertise or the knowledge of, and come to a conclusion as to how we should how we should address those issues with my mutual respected board members. Thank you.

[00:08:34] CALC parent-led forum: The 4J school board has had various communication challenges and I was wondering how you would handle the current relational climate at hand.

[00:08:43] Rick Hamilton: What this comes to is remembering as a board member that I’m a role model and not only for the community, but also for the student participants on the board. Therefore, let’s say we went way out in left field here and I hated a board member and they were present.

[00:09:03] I’m still going to treat that board member with respect because I know that I have impressionable minds watching me and listening to me and hearing me. And the other thing is by showing mutual respect, that board member might come around, or I might realize that maybe we just had a misunderstanding.

[00:09:25] So I’m going to give that person the benefit of the doubt, and I’m going to treat ’em with respect until they show me different. And by doing that, I have other board members looking and coming on board so that we all end up being somewhat on one accord. Now, when the challenge comes from the outside instead of the inside, we’re an army against one or two.

[00:09:47] Rather than: We are individuals with different perspectives and views fighting the same enemy and not having the clue as to what we’re going to do. So I want to be a role model. I want to bring peace on the board so that we can take those challenges when they come, like picking the new superintendent or talking about, ‘Hey, we need to save some money here. We need to chase money there. Hey, we need to fix this policy.’

[00:10:10] But until I take it upon myself individually to be a role model for everyone else, inclusive of the board members and the community, then I fail. Not only my board, but I also fail my community because I add fuel to the fire of dysfunction. And so we’ve got to start out by being role models, practice what you preach, and that’s my answer.

[00:10:34] CALC parent-led forum: How do you plan to increase teacher retention?

[00:10:38] Rick Hamilton: Just like students, I think teachers really appreciate when a parent comes in and gives them an ‘attaboy’ or an ‘attagirl’ for something that they’d done for their student or just for being a teacher or just for surviving the overcrowded classroom of going through a stressful period, and especially when students come in and maybe even students that were several years ago, come in sometime and say, ‘Hey, thanks to you.’

[00:11:10] This is where I am now. Just those kind of things. Obviously the pay. I’ve said it ever since I was a kid and recognized some of the needs of teachers is that they don’t get paid near enough, especially you got those special, special teachers that really make students, especially marginalized students, feel like they’re part of the crowd and the gang and stuff and those kids never, ever forget that. They never do.

And I, they should make a teacher holiday, I mean a real teacher holiday. And periodically it would be nice for a group to give a group of teachers some type of financial or gift or something, say, Hey, Maybe we didn’t say this last year, but we are saying this now.

[00:11:55] We really appreciate you because we saw the extra effort that you did with those kids over there, and especially special needs teachers. Man, you have no, some people have no idea what a special person it takes to persevere when you’re not getting enough pay, you’re not getting enough time, you’re not getting enough support, and you’re not in getting all of the resources that you need to do an excellent job.

[00:12:22] And so I always tip my hat off to teachers and veterans because they go above and beyond the call of duty. The majority of them do.

[00:12:31] CALC parent-led forum: How do you foresee supporting students and families of varied citizenship status, including undocumented students and family members?

[00:12:39] Rick Hamilton: Well, that’s a, that’s a very interesting subject. And I’ve encountered that for many years in the work that I used to do as a state police officer encountering what we turned back then illegal aliens. And that’s that’s, we all want to be conscious of what the law is, but at the same time, we’re all human and you have a heart.

[00:13:03] And when you look at another person who merely wants a better life, and a better life for their family, man, that’s heart-wrenching. And honestly, when you see students and adults in those situations, all I can see is a person that wants to do well and have a better life because we have examples right here amongst us and we’ve grown up with people in the same situation.

[00:13:28] Maybe they didn’t come from this country or that country, but in the same situation, they just want a better life. And so I don’t think it’s for any of us to be judging people based on where they came from in the first place. And I know I’ve been in that situation growing up, and so the shoe’s been on the other foot, and I really, really do get it.

[00:13:56] We have laws, but we also are all human beings, and nothing’s perfect. The law isn’t perfect either. And so I just don’t look to label where someone came from. I’m looking at what’s that person’s intent and where do they want to go? What would I do if I was in that same situation? What if it was my kid?

[00:14:16] And so it’s like, Hey, they’re here for a specific purpose, just like everybody else is. And so I, I just can’t see that difference. I really can’t. And so, it is what it is. It isn’t resolved, but they’re here.

[00:14:30] CALC parent-led forum: I’m going to ask that you guys do one-minute closing statements instead of the two minutes.

[00:14:35] Rick Hamilton: Okay. I think after the elections are over with, you will see that I appeal to a wide, wide range of people. I have friends from a wide range in this community and elsewhere, and my biggest asset is that I’m all about relationships, whether it be in the family, whether it be in the group, whether it be on a team, and I know that I can enhance that ability of camaraderie on this board. I have a sense of humor and this is what I’m hoping to bring to the board so that we can get some real business done.

[00:15:10] And I am a student advocate first and foremost, and will always be one. And some of the teachers that I can remember are my heroes still. And so I’m hoping to make a real impact on this board by bringing everyone together so that we can get some business done. Thank you.

[00:15:29] John Q: Rick Hamilton is running for the 4J school board.

Whole Community News

You are free to share and adapt these stories under the Creative Commons license Attribution ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Whole Community News