Empowering students and parents to create their own path

Hello. I’m Oscar Williams, candidate for Washoe School Board District E. I’ve lived in Reno for 30 years and am a super dad.

My son attended Westergard and Billinghurst in District E as a special needs student because of his dyslexia. For the parents of children with dyslexia, there is hope – lots of hope! For example, while I was told by school officials that my son would likely not be able to read proficiently by the time he graduated high school, he is now in the college of his choice and made the Dean’s List last semester!

Dyslexia is not negative, but the WCSD treats it as such. That has to change. Here I propose my solution.

A child’s success cannot be determined in advance, and “success” is subjective. The problem in the Washoe County School District, and many districts today, is that children are being profiled and their lives are predetermined. WCSD Board Chair Beth Smith said in a March 14 interview that it was the school board’s job to provide “funding and programs that align with what their future looks like for them.”

What does their future look like for them? Wait a second. Does she mean the school picks winners and losers? Because that sounds exactly like what is happening and has happened, including my experience.

I want to empower students and parents to create a pathway and choose electives by redesigning the individualized education program so that it is accessible to all students. For example, if a sophomore at McQueen High wants to learn culinary skills at the new Debbie Smith Academy and then return to McQueen for core studies or sports or whatever, he or she will be able to do that because the WCSD will make it possible. Call it one city ​​campus deliberately.

The revised IEP will shift the focus from accommodating failure to providing specialized and targeted services for the plethora of needs of our diverse student base and expecting positive outcomes. Parents will choose what special services the school will provide their student regarding learning barriers such as dyslexia.

To better overcome barriers to learning, the new IEP will be supplemented with a robust after-school program, which can include hiring teachers and teacher assistants; services and persons approved by the school board. I will ask Washoe County to provide grants to families of students with special needs and those with language barriers to pay for these expanded services. Transportation and snacks are provided where and when needed.

Why does this work?

Giving students and parents a license to shape their future empowers them and anchors them in the program they created. When is it their plan, students are most likely to attend, engage, and ultimately learn.

Standardized testing is required, but the ACT cannot predict a student’s future. With regard to a profession such as culinary arts, the ACT does not test such skills that truly undervalue the student who could become the next Auguste Escoffier (1836-1935) – possibly the greatest chef to ever walk the earth. Okay, a kid got high marks on the ACT, but can they make a soufflé?

Testing is a concern and to that end I propose that the equivalence of diplomas be tested by the government at every level of secondary school. This a) makes students feel comfortable with testing, and b) shows them a minimum goal they need to achieve in order to work in the real world.

I look forward to working with the unions and especially regarding the new Debbie Smith Academy expected to open in District E in 2025.

I plan to ask the Nevada Department of Education and the Education Committee to give more control to local school boards and refine Washoe County’s school budget and funding mechanism. We need a long-term plan that addresses the teachers union’s concerns and ultimately puts more teachers in classrooms.

I strive for an ideal ratio between students and teachers.

I believe in pay increases for education professionals based on performance.

I will work with my colleagues on the board to reach students and families to inform them of new events and to better engage them, with an emphasis on home-schooled students. For example, a home-study student has access to school sports, but many do not know this.

Our students are better equipped with literacy and how to petition or debate with others in support of their wishes and concerns. Such basic skills will take them far. However, speaking truly fluent English takes time. I don’t expect Shakespeare, but I do want a minimum of wit to write an important letter.

I believe that sex education should be open to inspection by parents who may choose to wean their child from that teaching.

The school board has a hand in determining a student’s mental health, which I am against as it is currently implemented. This is inherent to the profiling of students. The school board allows outside groups to communicate with students to provide advice on mental health issues and has thus created an opaque system controlled by outside organizations that target children they label as ‘struggling’, ‘problems’ or ‘ consider ‘dangerous’. for themselves or for others.” I don’t want anyone getting into my child’s head at that young and impressionable age. I don’t want anyone talking to my child about their emotional and mental health that I don’t know about and haven’t approved of. Parental involvement is needed at all levels.

With my reforms we can change our district. The bad statistics will become good statistics and businesses will flock to Washoe County for our education system. The resulting economic boom will usher in a bright new era for our community. on the June 11 primaries.

Thank you.

Oscar Williams is a candidate for Washoe School Board District E.

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