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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Cruz Vargas

This year there are three candidates vying for two open seats for School Board of trustees for the Emery Unified School District.  The three Emeryville residents are Barbara Inch, Cruz Vargas and Ken Bukowski.  Next up in the Tattler rotation is Cruz Vargas.  We ask five questions:

Tattler:  Do you see yourself primarily as a representative of the community or as a representative of the school system?

Cruz Vargas:  I believe an effective School Board member should be a representative of both sides so i don’t see these being mutually exclusive. So I see myself - and will continue to be -  a representative of both families and teachers alike.

Tattler:  What is your own experience with public education?

Cruz Vargas:  As a student, my experience dates back a generation as my own parents were very involved in my school’s parent associations. When I was 8 years old, I asked my parents to transfer me to a private school. To which my dear mom replied "honey, a school doesn't make students. It's the students and their families that make the school". Needless to say, I’ve only attended public schools: from kindergarten through International Baccalaureate in Mexico to my degree at UC Berkeley.
As a parent, our experience with public schools has also been very positive. The best example I can provide is that my daughter is the product of our district’s ESL program - allowing her to quickly and productively integrate into our educational system.

Tattler:  What are your priorities for the district in the coming year? Why and how did you select these issues.

Cruz Vargas:  For a more detailed view, I recommend visiting my website:
I believe the first priority is to bring all of us together around the shared common ground: the education of our children. Second, we’ll empower our teachers by providing the tools and resources required so we can transition quickly to the full utilization of all our new resources and technology. I believe our third priority should be to focus on our curriculum to further incorporate enrichment programs including STEM, arts/music and to evaluate programs such as International Baccalaureate.
To build this view of priorities, I have met with - and I’m endorsed by - our teacher’s association and both current and former board members; and have met with many of the families that have the drive to move our district forward.

Tattler:  In 2012 more than 90% of teachers at Emery signed the 'Teachers Resolution' expressing no confidence in the former Superintendent of the Schools.  The teachers asked the Board for their support with the Resolution but the Board refused and ignored the request of virtually the entire teaching staff (please see the Tattler for details).  More recently the teachers were united in their voices to delay the opening of the ECCL citing student safety and lack of curriculum reasons.  Again the Board ignored the teachers request. The teachers at Emery have felt their voices are not being heard by the Board of the Administration.  Please explain what you think broke down in these two cases.

Cruz Vargas:  As the only registered candidate endorsed by the Emery Teacher’s Association, I do not take this responsibility lightly. The past is behind, let’s learn from it. I encourage the other candidates to meet for the first time with our Teacher’s Association and to pledge their support to our wonderful teachers, administrators and supporting staff regardless of the outcome. We are here to move forward together, for the sake of our children.

Tattler:  Parents too felt ignored by the Board during planning meetings for ECCL when they requested hearings into the wisdom of closing Anna Yates Elementary School.  The Board refused to entertain holding even a single meeting to gauge public concern or hear the parent's and citizen's ideas.  Please explain what you think broke down when parents and citizens were not listened to.

Cruz Vargas:  As a parent, I attended multiple sessions and hearings regarding ECCL aimed to gather input from parents and from the community. More importantly, I believe we should focus on moving our beautiful, state-of-the-art school forward. We will only achieve this together with your vote and your support. Thanks. Cruz J Vargas.

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