Announcement for Candidacy for Tara B. Parker, Lowndes BOE, District 2

| March 14, 2014
Lowndes-County-Board-Of-EducationVALDOSTA, GA – The following is the announcement for candidacy for Tara B. Parker. Parker is running for the Lowndes Board of Education District 2 seat.

I am Tara B. Parker and am announcing my candidacy for the Lowndes County Board of Education District 2 seat.

My husband and I have lived in Lowndes County for more than 22 years. I am a graduate of Valdosta State University. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations/Communications and a (MPA) – Master’s Degree in Public Administration. I am currently employed as an adjunct professor of American Government/Political Science at Valdosta State University through the South Georgia State College Entry Program. My children attend/attended the Lowndes County Schools. Both were/(will be) honor’s graduates, involved in clubs and sports, and my youngest, Christian Parker, is STAR student for the LHS class of 2014. I am passionate about education and have years of experience in education. I believe in our system, children, and staff at Lowndes.

Background/experience:

I was raised in a small South Georgia town by parents who were both educators. I am an educator as well and have taught college students for thirteen years and am thoroughly familiar with the college requirements and expectations of our high school graduates. Additionally, my role as an educator offers me incite to some of the concerns teachers have regarding implementation of rules/procedures into a working classroom.  Sometimes a political or bureaucratic policy sounds helpful on paper, yet its implementation proves to be less than effective in practice – or may even interfere with the educational process. My MPA degree focused on budgetary structures, policy analysis, and administrative requirements; I am comfortable in my ability to apply this instruction in the policy promulgation & implementation needed in order for board members to make careful analysis of budget and policy considerations. My understanding of government (as a college instructor teaching American Government) affords me the opportunity to remember each day that our system is a representative democracy.  Therefore, I am keenly aware that our political leaders are elected to represent and to serve the voters’ while acting on behalf of the taxpayers and community. Finally, I have approximately 25 combined years as an active parent raising two children as they journeyed through the Lowndes School System – from kindergarten to graduation. During those years, I have become intimately familiar with our policies – the good and the – “could use improvement” practices. I maintained regular communication with my sons’ teachers and administrators each year. I believe those years of experiences and my partnerships with our educators will benefit my understanding of the students’ and teachers’ roles in the interactive process of teaching and learning.

Volunteer services:

I have been active in the Lowndes schools during the last 13 years as a volunteer and service provider. During this time, I have:

· Served on Lowndes County’s Schools’ SACS Committees and the Lowndes BOE Attendance Policy Committee. I have been an officer and active member of PTA, served as “room mom/team-mom,” yearbook committee, etc. for school activities in every school our sons have attended.

· Worked with the Haven and with Battered/Homeless Women and Children. Over the last 15 years, I have assisted mothers and/or their children with procuring education, work, homes, resumes, household items, etc. for several local families.

· Assisted other charitable organizations including the Boy’s and Girl’s Club of Valdosta,  Sherriff Boy’s and Girl’s Ranch, and local children’s causes such as “A Heart of a Viking Scholarship” in memory and honor of Jacob McCook to raise awareness of organ donation, etc.

If elected to the Lowndes Board of Education (District 2 seat), I pledge to practice what I have preached in my Political Science courses for over a decade, and serve as a representative for the concerns and requests of my constituents, our students, our teachers, and our community.

My platform:

1. I pledge to have an open door – an all-access policy to hear concerns and praises from our Viking family. I want to see an increase in involvement in our schools – top down. I would like to encourage both parents and students to attend BOE meetings and share with the board what we are doing right and what can be improved upon. I believe the board members are not the “bosses” of the school. I believe the taxpayers, parents, students, staff, and community should be directing the policies as long as student’s needs are their focus. I will serve to represent the views of my constituents – using my own experiences of two children successfully attending our school system from kindergarten to graduation.

2. In all matters – budgetary or policy concerns – students’ needs will be first and foremost for every decision I consider. I will research each topic using outside data (if/when available from other systems) and/or will actively seek to find and use quantitative data from our own educators and families when considering policies. I’m not familiar with groups/cliques or “sides” and will make each decision utilizing one question: “What is best for the students?”

Most of the school board members’ responsibilities are based on budgetary matters, and, often, budgetary concerns must dictate difficult policies. I look forward to learning about our budgetary issues and searching for ways to spend wisely – versus spending more.  Everything is a tradeoff; we understand that in life. And education is not immune to this truth. But I pledge to address each budgetary question based on “what most benefits the students” with “the least costs to our educators and community” and do so without personal bias – but with qualitative data.

3. As a mother and an educator, I have witnessed how excessive policies, procedures, and paperwork are interfering with our teachers’ ability to focus the time and efforts on teaching instead of spending time on documentation. I will work to reduce unnecessary procedural requirements for our teachers in order to allow them to focus their energy on instruction. I want to work closely with our teachers in order to understand their needs in the classroom. We should make certain our budget and policy discussions include input from students and teachers in order to ensure that our decisions serve to free them in order to focus on what they realize is working – instead of trying to dictate the process. The state can dictate curriculum guidelines and outcomes, but we should allow our teachers to find the best methods to help each student meet those outcomes versus shackling them with procedural dictates. What works for one teacher or one student – may not be the best for another. Teachers and administrators need the freedom to choose the most beneficial methods of implementation based on their experiences and on research & data from other educators.

Conclusion:

The Lowndes School Board is the most important governing body for our schools and our children’s education. I would like to utilize my experiences as a mother, an educator, and an advocate for Lowndes schools in order to bring diversity to our school board; different experiences/backgrounds can provide additional information – and fresh perspectives – on the policy and budgetary issues facing our school system. The role of parents in the educational endeavors of our children is paramount; I will bring my experiences (good and bad) from 25 collective years of 2 children going through the system k-12, in order to help consider what choices best serve our students.

I believe that I possess unique insight that would offer a varied and beneficial perspective on issues facing our system in current – and upcoming – years.  I have the drive; I have the interest; I have the experience, and I have the passion for our system to serve our children.

I will serve as your representative for the community and voters – and pledge to make decisions based on the concerns and interests of our parents, students, and staff.

In advance, I thank you for your support, and I look forward to an opportunity to work toward positive change over the next 4 years and beyond.

Source: Press Release

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