To the editor:
This coming Tuesday, Nov. 2, I’m asking for your vote to be elected to the Perry Community school board. To earn your vote, I think it is important that you learn a bit about me and about my ideas. Below is my background and the three main pieces to my platform. Thank you for your consideration:
I was born and raised in California but have called Iowa home for the past 25 years. My parents moved our family to Perry when I was 15 years old, and I graduated from Perry High School in 1997.
My wife, Angelica, graduated from Perry High School in 1999, and we are fortunate to have siblings and parents living in Perry. All of the five Diaz siblings live in town, and we all live within six blocks of the matriarch of the family, Ignacia. I have three children in Perry schools and am active in community groups, economic development and youth coaching.
I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in political science when I briefly thought about pursuing law school. Instead, I chose the nonprofit and education route as my career path and obtained a Master’s degree in teaching from Drake University, after which I briefly taught in DMPS before returning to my alma mater and teaching high school economics, history and government. I eventually returned to Drake University to obtain a graduate degree in educational leadership and was a school principal before moving on to a career in higher education.
Prior to graduating from college, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than six years and had one tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom as an infantryman during the 2004-2005 years that were some of the most violent of the entire war. The chaos and violence of war led to my greater appreciation of the prosperity and opportunities that the United States offers, and I hope to build on the foundation that Americans before have left for us. If you want to learn more about my experience, you can read my blog post on Returning Vets of Diablo Valley.
My platform is focused on the issues that I believe make the biggest impact on the education of students and ultimately help prepare them for a better future.
1) Family Engagement: Of all the factors that impact student educational outcomes, family engagement is at the top of the list. For example, research shows that students who have parents who read to them when they are young have an expanded vocabulary, better reading skills and improved cognitive skills that are important to future success. The question I would ask as a board member is: What do we do to increase family participation in student’s education, and how do we increase it? For far too long, teachers and other educators have been asked to carry the burden for much of society to build the next generation when it is clearly a team effort with families and the communities that they teach in.
2) Academic rigor: Rigor refers to a standard of excellence that teachers, administrators and families expect of their students. These standards are made clear to students, families and the community and are set so that the bar is high for all students, with academic support for those students who need additional assistance. This helps students develop skills that help them lead a successful life and helps our country compete in a hyper-competitive world.
3) Retention, recruitment and development of high quality teachers: In his book “Visible Learning,” John Hattie studied the factors within a school that greatly impact student achievement, and not surprisingly effective teachers showed the greatest impact on student outcomes. Our educators are valuable resources and should be treated accordingly. We should invest in retaining the best teachers, recruit teachers who want to teach and live in our community and develop them to make the greatest impact on our children.
At the national level, there are many other issues being discussed that are effective at dividing communities but ultimately have minimal impact on student outcomes. I believe that it takes a village to raise a child and will work to bring people together to accomplish our common mission of helping build our most valuable resource, OUR CHILDREN.
The school board plays a small but important role in this mission. A greater impact will be made when more folks are brought to the table to volunteer in parent organizations and youth sports and to be actively supportive of our educators. I ask you to join in this effort even if you choose not to vote for me.