Editor's note: Reporter Harold Pierce asked a series of questions of the four candidates running for the vacant seat on the Bakersfield City School District board. Here are answers from Ralph Anthony. Read answers from Vicki Lynn Billington on Thursday and Rupert Gregorio on Friday. See Edgar Aguilasocha's answers here.
Residents throughout central Bakersfield will choose among four candidates in an April 10 special election to determine who will help lead Bakersfield City School District — the state's largest elementary school district.
One of them will fill a seat left vacant by Raymond Gonzales, an established assemblyman and Latino rights leader who won re-election in 2016, then resigned abruptly over health concerns.
To give voters a better idea of the candidates, The Californian asked each to answer 10 questions about education, their priorities and why they're running.
Why are you running for Area 3 Trustee?
I am running for Area 3 Trustee to ensure the complete implementation of effective policies that put all children first. I will endeavor to bring every resource available to meet the challenging needs of all its schools beginning where the need is greatest. I know issues that led to the focused schools initiative. I presently serve on the BCSD Closing the Achievement Gap Committee.
What qualifications do you think make up an exceptional board member?
I have a demonstrated commitment and passion since the third grade as a student at Casa Loma School to the present to do all I can to help every child realize their potential to learn their purpose in life. I believe parents are the first teachers who team up with teachers, who team up with principals, who team up with administrators who team up with school boards to establish community schools to help our children learn.
Explain your background in education and your qualifications for the position.
As a past member of the BCSD Board of Trustees ('92-'94), I previously advocated for better education as past president of the Bakersfield Branch of the National Association for Colored People, ('68-'80), As past President of the Ministers Conference of Kern County to present, helped established "Adopt A School Program. Was a founding board member of "Comprehensive African American Academic Achievement Program" that researched and introduced ways and means to partner with the board to close the academic achievement gap.
How do you define a quality education?
Quality Education is to provide the best education to meet the needs of all 30,000 plus children in the BCSD by hiring good teachers, effective school leaders and principals, by ensuring a safe and nurturing educational environment, by ensuring daily delivery of a guaranteed and viable curriculum to all students, by providing academic enrichments using approaches to promote student learning and high achievement for all students. In addition quality education is to establish and develop parent, family and community ties so strong the child has to achieve.
What would be your priorities as a board member if elected? Are there any special issues you’re paying attention to and want to address?
The priorities as a board member are to study present issues already impacting Area 3 that Dr. Raymond Gonzales encountered before his resignation for health reasons and issues developed since the vacancy occurred, if any; such as absenteeism, expulsions suspensions, and transfers. To study problems as to the effectiveness of the parent, teacher and school relations and develop policies to enhance improvement for all parties concerned.
How would you work to address the shortage of teachers throughout the district, particularly in special education classrooms?
I would continue involving parents, community resources, churches, businesses, High Schools, Colleges and universities to encourage students to become teachers, and to recruit students to teach in BCSD. I would work hard to keep and develop good relations with various unions to retain good teachers.
One of the goals of the district is to close the achievement gap for black students. What ideas would you bring forth to help the district reach its goal? Is it an attainable goal?
One of the goals of the district is to close the achievement gap for black students. I will continue to retrieve information and share successful projects elsewhere such as the African American male Achievement program in the Oakland school district the BCSD is presently critiquing. Closing the achievement gap is definitely attainable and more so when the educational minded citizens of the community vigorously lend its support.
Where do you stand on the issue of school choice, and school voucher programs to pay for students to enroll in private schools?
I am committed to helping the public school system to truly work for all of its students, including special education policies. I serve as the Assistant Pastor of St. Peter Restoration Community Christian Ministries (1980-present), Executive Director, Friendship House Community Center, ('74-'79) Executive Director, A. Phillip Randolph Community Development Corp. ('90-'95) Project Director, Anti-Tobacco Program, Ebony Counseling Center, etc.; helped establish the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) where I received the first Aztec Award in Kern County, founding board member of Clinica Sierra Vista, etc. I serve as mentor, Stay Focused Ministries R 4 Greatness Program.
Do you have children or grandchildren who have attended BCSD schools, or have you attended one?
All of my four children were products of BCSD as I was.
Can you be an independent advocate for all BCSD students and staff? What does that mean to you?
My life is a living epistle of advocating for all students, teachers, principals, administrations and board members dedicated to focusing on the student needs. If we do that we will have made the necessary steps to continue growing and glowing from humble beginnings in 1867 with an ADA of 17 students of the Kern River Island District becoming the Bakersfield City School District in 1868. We do not have to leave any students behind if we intervene in time. I ask that you vote for me on April 10. Your Committed Compassionate Educational Advocate since age 14 challenging all who can to read a novel every night.