Austin Ogden for School Board on Advancing Dublin Education
The Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees has four candidates vying for three open seats in the upcoming election on November 6, 2012. To help Dublin voters make an informed decision, OneDublin.org asked each candidate the same five questions. Below is the response received from candidate Austin Ogden. Responses from candidates Dan Cunningham, Amy Miller and Greg Tomlinson are available here.
OneDublin.org: What inspired you to become active in Dublin education and run for a Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees position?
Ogden: “Throughout my education in the Dublin Unified School District, I often felt that students were being prepared more for success on state tests than being able to use their own skills in ways that would transfer to experiences and responsibilities after high school. I felt that whether a student chose to go to a university, vocational school, or right to work after graduating, there were areas that students needed to learn more. An example of an instance that I got this feeling was during a lesson in class when I wanted to raise my hand to ask a question or offer an opinion on a topic, and because of the pace and objectives of the class, my teacher would be forced to say that there wasn’t enough time for what I wanted to say. Teachers are pressured so much to raise test scores that the opportunities for students to use their creativity or think outside the box can sometimes get pushed aside. I felt like life was more interesting than being able to answer a single type of problem correctly, or fill in the right bubble, and I hope that being a member of the School Board I would be able to provide a voice for students who experience that same feeling. I would like to bring the interests of students and teachers together so that the good, creative ideas of teachers can be utilized.”
OneDublin.org: Dublin is a diverse community in ethnic and socioeconomic terms. What challenges does Dublin face in maximizing learning opportunities for all students?
Ogden: “I would like to influence the DUSD to help teachers motivate and engage students from all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. It can be challenging for teachers to do this with a diverse population of students in their classrooms at the same time, and offering any type of support to help them do this would be a priority of mine. In addition, demands of colleges in terms of SAT scores have remained high, yet students’ scores on the SAT do not appear to be rising. Unlike the current state tests, success of students on the SAT directly impacts their future educational possibilities. I would like to do anything I can to give students of all backgrounds the SAT prep that they need in order to be prepared to apply for college and be competitive in the admissions process. These classes can be expensive, so students that do not have families that can afford them would benefit from cheaper or free SAT prep.”
OneDublin.org: What is the role of the Board of Trustees vs. the role of the District Staff / Administration / Teachers in ensuring our students are ready for college, a career or public service?
Ogden: “The role of the Board of Trustees is to give funding, tools, and public leadership so that the district staff, administration, and teachers have the opportunity to do their jobs most effectively.”
OneDublin.org: Dublin voters have supported multiple bond measures and a parcel tax in recent years. What role do Board Trustees play in ensuring that the money will be spent in the most efficient and effective way possible and what are your priorities for recently approved bond funds?
Ogden: “It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to ensure that money is spent effectively. Dublin voters have been very generous with their votes, giving the DUSD huge amounts of money for improvements, and I would like to help ensure that schools that need renovation get it, and that some money is set aside for renovations that are needed for any Dublin school in the future. The Board of Trustees cannot plan on hoping for additional bond measures to pass in the future, but should ensure that there is money available by expecting future improvements now. It is important to me that money is allocated fairly between Dublin schools.”
OneDublin.org: As an existing Board Trustee or as a candidate you have likely spoken to many parents. What are the key issues you’ve heard and how do you plan to address those issues?
Ogden: “The issues that I have spoken to many parents about have included smart spending of money now so that there are funds available in the future for maintenance and improvements; ensuring that students with disabilities are receiving the services they need; helping students improve their SAT scores, not just their CSTs; encouraging critical thinking, problem solving, and curiosity of students for college and after; and supporting students who are interested in fields that do not require university education, like electricians, plumbers, and mechanics.
“Many of these issues are things that I have made my priority from the beginning of my campaign, like encouraging the learning of students in ways that are beyond state tests. I am passionate that all students, those with disabilities, those that do not want to pursue a college path right away, and those that do, all have the tools necessary to succeed. I would provide leadership in the form of a voice that supports services and resources to help all students grow.
“I think our valedictorian from the graduating class of 2012 said it best:”