Candidate Q&A: Ken Mauldin
Editor’s note: Steamboat Pilot & Today has asked each of the local candidates in the 2021 Election on Nov. 2 to participate in a Q&A to better inform voters, asking the same questions related to each specific office. Visit SteamboatPilot.com/election for the latest election news and information.
Ken Mauldin is running for Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education.
Why are you running for school board?
I’m running for school board to help create a more open, collaborative and inclusive model within our district. I hold a bachelor’s in economics, and I have 18 years of experience as a CEO in the professional education industry that I can apply to help our district.
When we consider the yearslong cover-up of school safety concerns, a lack of accountability and poor academic performance — it’s no surprise that almost everyone in our community knows a family that has left our district as a result of losing confidence that our board can manage the district’s affairs responsibly.
I will do my absolute best to advocate for all stakeholders and moderate a communitywide discussion that includes and considers everyone’s ideas. I will consistently advocate for transparency and accountability. I will work to return our district to the high performing organization our community and, most importantly, our students deserve.
What improvements would you make to better facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between parents and the school board?
First, current policy presumes to tell stakeholders and board members what they can and cannot say on the record during board meetings. The district policies that attempt to control speech and attitudes during our public meetings have been used to facilitate a cover-up of stakeholder concerns in the past, and the community should reject the idea that the board can compel them to surrender their First Amendment rights in a public meeting. Community stakeholders have the right to redress the board of a grievance in a meeting and on the public record, because that’s why we have school board meetings.
Second, current policy forbids the exchange of ideas between stakeholders and board members on the record in public comment. High performance organizations desire two-way communication between stakeholders. The model of “We hear you, but are unable to respond” prevents two-way communication and is a disservice to the community.
Where do you stand on introducing critical race theory into our schools?
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has become a divisive issue in many school communities across the country. My experience has been that if you ask five people what CRT is, you may get several answers.
My personal practice of race theory is that prejudging others based on race — being racially prejudiced towards others — is wrong. Further, I believe that teaching children to be racially prejudiced in any manner is terrible.
I believe we can teach an accurate version of American history, civics and other important subjects without incorporating or advocating for any aspects of racial prejudice in the lesson planning and delivery.
Because CRT is a fundamentally a curriculum question, I would be happy to review any specific curriculum to share my ideas and solicit the ideas of the broader community.
How will you ensure that curriculum and its delivery is fair, balanced and aligned with Colorado state curriculum guidelines?
The selection of curriculum is described as a “specific duty” of a school board under Colorado law, as defined in C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(t): “To determine the educational programs to be carried on in the schools of the district and to prescribe the textbooks for any course of instruction or study in such programs.”
Because curriculum is foundational to the primary mission of the district to educate our students, I believe the board should be very involved in curriculum selection and meet the statutory obligations to “prescribe the textbooks for any course of instruction or study in such programs.”
The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) determines educational standards, and the local districts hold the responsibility to select or develop curriculum that meet those CDE standards. I would utilize the tools provided by CDE in any curriculum we adapt or develop to ensure curriculum is targeted to meet the CDE published standards.
Steamboat Schools rank well in the state, where do you see opportunity to improve academic performance?
We are currently experiencing an emergency of poor academic performance in our district. Based on the recent CMAS scores, among those grades tested last year, we have three entire grade levels that have around 50% of students not performing math at grade level.
State rankings are a composite of a variety of factors, and in my view, any district that has multiple grade levels leaving almost half of the students behind in math shouldn’t be ranked well.
These recent scores reflect poorly on our district. I think we should regard this widespread academic failure an emergency and consider all possible options as remedies.
How would you rate the school district’s response to COVID-19, and what would have wanted to see done differently?
I didn’t agree with the board implementing a mask mandate after the community expressed a 12-1, or 92%, consensus against a mask mandate just 10 days earlier during public comment in a board meeting. In the special meeting that was called 10 days later, stakeholder comments weren’t allowed, and not a single board member objected to making such an important decision without first hearing from stakeholders on the record.
In my view, the board didn’t allow public comments because the board couldn’t risk letting stakeholders speak if those expressions didn’t align with the board’s predetermined outcome. As it stands now, we have no idea if the board aligned with community stakeholder sentiment because stakeholders weren’t allowed to add their ideas before the vote was held.
Community stakeholders should have a voice in all board meetings before any vote.
What is the primary purpose of the board of education, and in your role, do you feel you represent/speak for a particular group (faction, party, constituency, etc.)? If so, who?
The primary functions of the board of education are to manage a school district that effectively educates the community’s children, prepare students for life as independent adults and be a responsible steward of district assets and resources.
Board members should practice oversight of the professional responsibilities of the superintendent and the proper execution of district policy.
The board should invite stakeholders to provide feedback on the record during board meetings and exchange ideas with the community in the form of two-way communication during board meetings.
Board members should represent all community stakeholders and facilitate a community-wide discussion to address and resolve challenges within the district’s operations.
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