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五人竞选哈岗学区二席 5 vie for 2 seats on Hacienda District
五人竞选哈岗学区二席 5 vie for 2 seats on Hacienda Districtin 陈凯论坛 Kai Chen Forum 不自由，毋宁死! Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death! Tue Nov 01, 2011 5:06 pm
by fountainheadkc • 1.371 Posts
5 vie for 2 seats on Hacienda La Puente school board
Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/10/2011 03:40:38 PM PDT
HACIENDA LA PUENTE SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATES
OCCUPATION: retired school principal
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: none
EDUCATION: B.A. from Cal State Los Angeles; M.S. from Cal State Fullerton; graduate of La Puente High School
What is one thing working at the district and one thing you would change?: The high district API (802) is due to the leadership of the superintendent, Barbara Nakaoka, and the teachers. Our business department, led by Gary Matsumoto, has kept the district financially sound. We have had no furlough days and no layoffs of teachers during these difficult times. What is not working well is the perceived division within the district - the north side vs. south side. More money and projects get allotted to the south side than the north side of the district.
OCCUPATION: small business owner
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: school board member (incumbent)
EDUCATION: B.A. from Harvard University, graduated from Wilson High School
What is one thing working at the district and one thing you would change?: Our district API score broke 800 this year, and the number of schools scoring over 900 has more than doubled compared to when I first entered office... We are also one of the few districts in the region that did not furlough or layoff any teaching staff... There is always room for improvement. We have aging and temporary facilities that need to be updated or replaced. I think it is important that the district improves the lines of communication it has with local stakeholders.
OCCUPATION: media center aide in Hacienda La Puente Unified
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: none
EDUCATION: B.A., secondary teaching credential, Whittier College
What is one thing working at the district and one thing you would change?: The district's focus on student achievement is working very well as evidenced by the overall API. While the district has done a great job preparing students for college, our 13.6 percent dropout rate indicates that they are not servicing all of the students. While it is desirable to prepare all students to go to college, the students who for one reason or another can't or don't want to go to college need to be offered opportunities to become successful members of our community.
SANDRA M. KEAT
OCCUPATION: retired corporate manager, English language tutor
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: none
EDUCATION: B.S. from Cal State Los Angeles; graduate studies in education at Cal Poly Pomona
What is one thing working at the district and one thing you would change?: Superintendent Barbara Nakaoka has been vital in raising our schools' API scores. The community feeling is that La Puente schools are not being offered opportunities that are offered to Hacienda Heights schools. A free clinic to help students prepare for SAT exams was initially offered to Hacienda Heights and not to La Puente.
PUBLIC OFFICES HELD: none
EDUCATION: B.A. economics, UC Riverside; law degree USC law school; graduate of Los Altos High School
After enduring 16 months of spirited debate, the glare of the national spotlight and an ill-fated recall attempt, things have quieted down in the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District board room, even though a school board election is just one month away.
The race among five candidates for two school board seats has not re-lit the fuse of past fireworks for several reasons.
Opponents of the two Confucius Classroom language programs, one at Wedgeworth Elementary and the other at Cederlane Middle School, did not obtain a single signature on a petition to recall board members Anita Perez, Joseph Chang, Norman Hsu and Jay Chen, who all voted for the program. The recall fizzled in June when chief opponent Rudy Obad, 74, said, "we'd be better off ... getting two people who think like us" elected on Nov. 8.
Also diminishing the flames was Hsu's decision to retire and not run for re-election. Hsu, who served for 20 years on the board, supported the Confucius Classroom program and was seen as the venerable leader of the Chinese-American community in Hacienda Heights.
Jay Chen, 33, has enthusiastically defended the Chinese-language program. Elected in 2007, Chen is the only incumbent running for re-election on Nov. 8. The Harvard graduate called opponents of the program racists and said their short-lived recall effort was "a smear campaign" that was destined for failure.
The district softened incoming criticism by voting not to accept any teachers or teachers's aides from China and to turn down the $30,000 a year that was promised from the Chinese Language Council International to fund the curriculum.
Though Obad, who would often appear in his Marine uniform to lambast the board as pro-communist, is on the ballot, he said in an interview earlier this week that he is no longer running.
"I am not running. I went back to (the county Registrar-Recorder) to try to take my name off the ballot but I could not. I'm not campaigning. I'm not putting any signs out," Obad said.
Obad, 74, said he dropped out after he did not receive the endorsement of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) despite having worked as a classified employee in Montebello schools for 32 years. The CSEA endorsement went to his opponents, Chen and challenger Gino Kwok. The duo also received the endorsement of the teachers union and the SEIU Local 99.
Chen said he supports the teaching of Mandarin and would work to "strengthen and enhance" the program. He would favor starting a Spanish language program if the community wanted it. He's been an ambassador for the Confucius classes and even appeared on national television's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" to defend the program.
Chen has gone to Washington to meet with the Obama administration on reworking the No Child Left Behind law and recently came back from a trip to Malaysia sponsored by the American Council of Young Political Leaders. He's backed by Democratic office holders Rep. Grace Napolitano, state Sen. Ed Hernandez, and state Controller John Chiang.
He touted the district's solid financial standing and said he'd like to continue working on a deal with developers to replace temporary classrooms at Wedgeworth with permanent classrooms that could involve a land swap.
Kwok, 48, a practicing attorney, said his campaign is based on his knowledge of the district, its issues and his community ties. He moved to Hacienda Heights as a child from El Salvador, where his father taught chemistry at the university. He attended Los Altos High School and his daughter attends a district elementary school.
Kwok wants to create a mentor program for current students made up of district graduates.
"When people stop me and say, can you help me and my kids, how could I ever go back on that?" he said. "I want to unify the district that includes Hacienda Heights and La Puente."
Two other candidates spoke about unifying the two-community district, the largest in the San Gabriel Valley.
Sandra Keat, 73, said she feels the Hacienda Heights side of the district is favored over the La Puente side. "I feel we have an unbalanced board that is not representing all of us," she said.
Gloria Alderete, 62, the former principal of Grazide Elementary, the highest performing school in the district, also mentioned a perceived division. "I want to bring unity. I don't always see that," she said.
As to Confucius classroom, Keat said any foreign language instruction should be reserved for middle and high school. "I have a problem teaching Mandarin at the grade school level," Keat said.
Alderete said the program should be "configured differently," with an emphasis on teaching English first from pre-K to 5th grade. She favors offering Mandarin or another foreign language in middle school and high school "as an elective." Alderete's been endorsed by former superintendent John Kramar, a main opponent of the Confucius Classroom.
Cindy Greenup, 48, is a media aide at the district. She spoke about the latest HLPUSD issue - the moving up of the school year's start from Aug. 23 to Aug. 7. The idea is to give students more instruction time between statewide assessment tests and the Advanced Placement tests taken by 11th and 12th graders.
"All the research has not been done yet," Greenup said, so she's reserving judgment. "While other districts have gone to the early start, I have to see how it affects the API and AP test scores."
Chen said he favors the early start because it gives students a true break in the winter and will help high school teachers prepare students for the AP tests.
Greenup says the district needs to listen to parents and stakeholders before making a decision on the calendar. She said during the controversy of the Confucius classroom, many members of the community were discounted. "We need a new focus in our school district," she said.
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