Warren city schools, like most urban districts in Ohio, continue to face crises on many fronts: embarrassingly poor academic achievement as measured by state report cards, humiliatingly low rates of graduation that defeat the purpose of public education and tightening financial nooses that strangle the district’s fiscal stability — just to name a few.
As the Nov. 5 election to select two members of the Warren district’s board of education nears, the gut reaction by many voters weary of such crises might be that old familiar battle cry, “Throw the bums out.”
That gut reaction, however, would be the wrong reaction in Warren. Many of the problems that plague Warren, Youngstown and other inner city schools in Ohio are out of the direct control of the five members who chart education and financial policies for a school system. For example, school board members have little if any direct impact on decisions from Columbus to sock it to local districts with seemingly arbitrary cuts in funding support. Nor can school board members monitor the successes and failures in each and every classroom, let alone the socio-economic successes and failures within the households of each and every student.
To be sure, dedicated and hard-working school board members with significant experience under their belts have the know-how and resources to slowly but effectively veer districts away from such crises and toward stability and demonstrated progress. .
One such school board member is Robert Faulkner Sr., a 23-year veteran of the Warren panel. As he campaigns for his seventh four-year term, The Vindicator heartily endorses him.
Faulkner is no apologist for the school district’s woes and is acutely aware of the challenges befalling the city school system. Among his top priorities for a 2014-2017 term are to continue providing “personnel and essential tools to increase academic performance, increasing graduation rates and decreasing dropout rates.”
His experience speaks to his commitment to those goals. He has worked with community organizations to promote programs to give students critically needed after-school and summer-learning experiences. On local, state and national levels, Faulkner has networked with agencies to benefit the school district and its 5,000 students.
Those contacts developed over three decades of service will continue to prove invaluable. He has worked as an adviser or board member of numerous Mahoning Valley organizations and has served on the Governor’s Education Commission and the Ohio State Education Advisory Council.
Enthusiasm for student success
Those credentials, while impressive, do not address the major reason why Warren voters should return the Delphi Packard retiree to the district’s High Street Northeast boardroom. Faulkner’s enthusiasm for student success has been demonstrated time and time again. In addition to his focus on improving academics, he’s also a staunch advocate for lessening bullying in schools and for increasing parent-teacher interaction. Faulkner’s record, his actions, his ideas and his passion for educational success make him a clear choice for voters Nov. 5.
Faulkner is one of four candidates vying for two positions on the board. Other candidates include Roderick L. Lewis Jr., Rhonda Bennett and incumbent Regina Patterson. None of them attended interview sessions with The Vindicator Editorial Board and therefore are disqualified for endorsement consideration.