Q&A with Area 6 candidate Garret Wright – Daily Democrat

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Six candidates are running for three seats on the Woodland Unified School District Board of Trustees in the Nov. 8 election.

In Zone 6, contender and parent Garret Wright will take on incumbent Morgan Childers.

The Woodland Daily Democrat sent out five questions to the six candidates to give them all an equal chance to speak up and highlight what they would like to achieve or continue to achieve on the Woodland School Board.

The series continues with Garret Wright.

Q: What qualifies you to continue to be or become a member of a school board? Why is it important for you to hold this position?

A: My love for my children, their friends, and all other students in the district, combined with the strongest desire to see them all succeed to their highest potential, is what motivates me and qualifies me for the school board. I am not just a candidate with a special interest because of my career or using it as a springboard to my next political endeavor. I’m on the ballot because my kids and my community are worth it. I have real skin in the game on district performance, and this district performance will forever affect my children, my home and my community. I can’t think of a more important duty for me as a parent than serving on the school board and making my community proud.

Q: What should be WJUSD’s #1 priority now that we appear to be free of any pandemic-like restrictions on our schools? How should the school district use the remaining COVID funds?

A: Now that we’ve left the pandemic protocols behind, here’s what I think the District should do:

First, we need to recognize the damage that lockdowns and masking have done to our students, especially the younger ones, and promise our city that we will never make that mistake again, period. It would be non-negotiable for me as a board member in the future.

Second, we need a major boost, a holistic approach to catching up with our students academically and socially. A large majority of students are behind in at least one subject, or even several. It is heartbreaking and the continuation of this trend is unacceptable. If we can’t close that learning loss gap for this generation of students, then we’ve failed our kids as a district. And in my eyes, failure is not an option. Compensate for learning loss and better prepare our remote learning program for the future so that it is more adaptable and deployable to those who may need it. These two topics are the highest priority for me for unused COVID funds.

Because without these two problems being solved, we will have a generation of unprepared students and will be doomed to make the same mistakes the next time a health emergency arises.

Q: Are you or have you recently been satisfied with the overall direction of the school district? Why or why not?

A: The direction the district is taking is worrying. I don’t see the importance I understand it takes to excel in reading, writing, and math. These three topics are the foundation of success for the rest of our lives. While I find equal access to resources and opportunities to be the foundation of an equitable educational experience, I am concerned about some policies and programs that require immense time, energy and resources without delivering results or review their effectiveness with front-line teachers.

We must rely on the vast experience of our teachers and listen to their feedback on what we are doing right and wrong. Their input is invaluable and can help determine which policies, focus points and resources are improving, without hampering student outcomes. With our current trend of test scores and gaps in student preparation, something has to change. We cannot continue down this path of underachieving students and dissatisfied parents and teachers.

Q: How do you think the WJUSD becomes more desirable and brings back students who have left or those who live in Woodland who go somewhere else like Woodland Christian or Davis?

A: In my opinion, the district has its work cut out to bring students back. Between the closure of our classrooms, the forced masking, and the lack of leadership to stand up to these horrific policies, even being told that these policies are harmful, it has turned many parents and students off. As a community, we estimated that our children’s educational opportunities were traded for $19 million in COVID funds. While recruiting students into the district can be difficult, I don’t think it’s impossible. Committing our district to academic excellence, never closing schools and never again terms is a huge first step. From there, we focus on the classroom environment and parent involvement.

An orderly and respectful environment in the classroom is essential to the success of teachers and students. A safe and focused classroom, coupled with strong parental involvement, will be needed to rebrand the district as a place to send your child to success, not avoid it.

Q: What do you think the district is not paying enough attention to and what would you do to improve it?

A: Something our district is not focusing enough on is the massive loss of learning that has occurred during the pandemic and the enforced masking. It may sound repetitive, but it really is the most important topic to me when it comes to the well-being of our children and their chances of succeeding later in life.

I will shine the spotlight on this topic and do whatever is necessary to resolve the issue. Repeat subjects or classes if necessary. Promote zero-period courses to improve a make-up grade. Look for proven policies backed by high-performing teachers and districts. Foster a more focused and respectful classroom environment when dealing with disruptive students, especially in grades 7-12. And most importantly, involve parents as much as possible in their child’s education so that they know if their child is falling behind, how far behind they may be, and what is the best way forward, so that their child does not not be left behind.

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