Anzar High School common concern in campaigns

Anzar High School is the main point of concern for all three
candidates vying for two open seats for the Aromas-San Juan Unified
School District.
Anzar High School is the main point of concern for all three candidates vying for two open seats for the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District.

Incumbent John Ferreira, Jeff Hancock and Aseneth Rodriguez-Quaid are seeking the four-year terms on Nov. 5 and each are tied to the district. Ferreira and Rodriguez-Quaid have children who are students and Hancock’s wife is a teacher in the district.

All three candidates are concerned about how the state’s budget cuts will affect the district. Other points of concern include Anzar’s exhibitions and the high number of state-mandated tests public-school students must take each year.

A vote to keep moving forward

John Ferreira, 48, is finishing his first term as trustee, but sees room for improvement.

“I like the direction the school district is going toward. I’d like to preserve that,” he said. “I want to continue to improve.”

Areas of improvement include bettering the school-parent relationship. Ferreira wants to get parents more involved and keep them informed of what is happening at the school and with their children.

Ferreira also wants to see the high school’s enrollment increase. He said he’s heard of students attending other high schools that offer a larger curriculum or going to private schools.

“We need to expand the curriculum,” he said. “We don’t offer as many courses as bigger schools do.”

Although there are some who oppose Anzar’s exhibitions, which are required for graduation, Ferreira said he supports them, saying the skill development during the process – including research and public speaking – is important.

As far as standardized testing, Ferreira said students are tested too much.

“The amount of time we spend on required testing is phenomenal. I don’t think it’s all necessary.”

Education is the future

Hancock decided to run for the board after hearing his wife, a teacher at Aromas Elementary School, express concerns about the district.

The 58-year-old served on the Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board for nine years.

“There was nothing being done. It seemed like simple things to resolve. It can be difficult to resolve problems, but that’s my job, resolving problems,” he said, referring to his job as a lawyer.

Hancock said one thing he would do as a board member is look at the fact that the district is losing children. He advocates changing what is being done to increase enrollment.

Hancock said a public-school education should be just as adequate as a private school one.

With budget crunches coming across the state and county, Hancock wants to look closer at educational spending.

“I want to see where the money is going and how it’s being utilized,” he said. “Different states are using money different ways and they’re getting better results.”

When it comes to Anzar’s exhibitions, Hancock does not believe people have taken into consideration how hard the exhibitions are for certain students. He said there are different ways of having students complete the exhibitions to accomplish the same results.

Student success

As a board member, Rodriguez-Quaid would focus on bringing the community together to improve education.

The 45-year-old wants to put more emphasis on research-based instruction and ways to teach various types of students.

She said one of her main goals would be to support the teachers and administration, and the recent decision to have a principal-type figure on the high school’s campus.

Rodriguez-Quaid also wants to look closer at Anzar’s exhibitions and see if there is any research behind the effectiveness of the requirement.

Drawing from her experience has a parent and education coordinator in Monterey, Rodriguez-Quaid supports cooperative learning and instruction that does not pressure students. She said educators must prepare students for success.

Rodriguez-Quaid said she sees this as a problem with the high number of standardized tests, especially the high school exit exam.

“A lot of our students are terrified (of the high school exit exam),” she said. “They’re afraid that they won’t pass the test. (Preparation for the test) needs to start earlier than high school. It’s not just them. It’s not that they can’t pass, it’s that we as educators are not preparing them for it.”

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