No hidden agendas.
Just a desire to improve the Deer Valley Unified School District and lift all educational stakeholders, including children and teachers up.
That is the goal of Deer Valley Unified School Governing Board candidate Craig Beckman.
Saying “partisan politics have no place in education,” Beckman wants to serve as a school board member that “focuses on kids, parents, and educators.”
Believing education, like health care, “is a fundamental right,” Beckman wants to use his seat on the Deer Valley Board to institute policies that “prepare our kids for the future” and “the real world.”
Mr. Beckman graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy for the Deer Valley School Board.
The questions and his responses are below.
- What are at least two reasons you would like to run for the Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board?
“So as a parent and advocate for families in the district, I’ve seen firsthand successes our community enjoys and the challenges that our students, families, and teachers face. I’m pretty intimately familiar with what our district does well and where our gaps lie. It’s really my mission to help close those gaps, to bring students, teachers, and parents in the community back together for the goal of providing our student population with the best education possible. I have a desire to strengthen these relationships so that we can focus on providing excellent curriculum programs, support systems, you know, everything that really prepares our community’s children for the world.
I’m running for the Deer Valley Unified School District Governing Board because I value the concept of constant improvement. I believe that we can be the best and continue to strive to be better. Achieving excellence is a never-ending endeavor. It requires continually identifying where our failures are to fix the root cause and identifying our areas of success so that we can tweak what works and make it even better.
It all comes down to having a student-centered focus and approach. I’m running because I want to help ensure success for all our students, no matter who they are, what their struggles may be or where they come from.”
- Please tell the reader, at least two qualifications you have to serve on the Deer Valley Board.
“First and foremost, I’m a parent and member of the educational community. I have direct experience with what’s happening in our schools every single day, and how our processes and policies impact our students. Every decision that I make as a parent will impact my children, my family, my neighbors, and my community.
For the last 18 months, I’ve helped to moderate a parent group for DVUSD parents with nearly 5,000 members. I’ve worked to provide information in a nonpartisan manner, recapping board meetings and disseminating district information in an understandable format for our community. I have a pretty good understanding of what our parents and guardians like and where their frustrations lie. I’ve developed working relationships with district and campus, administrators, teachers, and parents.
I’ve proven my ability to listen to the concerns of our community and help guide them through the process of finding answers or resolutions to their problems. As a board member, I would continue to listen to the concerns of all parents and use my position to help address the problems that can’t, or haven’t, been resolved at the school or district.
I have a background in marketing and communications. My wife and I own a successful marketing and advertising agency (Stoke Interactive) here in the valley. I believe that many of the concerns that parents and guardians have revolved around engagement and communication. Our community expects that we’re well informed, that we can participate in our children’s education at all levels and that we’re given the opportunity to weigh in on major decisions that will impact our families. My experience in business and communications will help close some of those gaps and provide families with those opportunities.”
- If elected, what are at least two education-related issues you would champion as a member of the Deer Valley Unified Governing Board?
“Curriculum is definitely something that I would have a pretty big focus on. Our curriculum team works really hard to provide excellent resources to our students, but I believe in preparing our students for life. The state-mandated curriculum only puts a small dent in that mission. In this increasingly digital world with a global economy, ABCs and one, two, and threes aren’t sufficient to prepare our kids for what comes next. So, in addition to the constant refinement of our current curriculum, I will always advocate for financial literacy training, comprehensive technology programs, teaching communication skills, global studies, critical thinking skills, life skills, and much more. I want to empower teachers with the curriculum they need to give our students a path to success right out of high school. So, I’d really work to ensure that our kids are prepared for life.
I’d also champion massive improvements to our special needs programs. I believe that we have a moral obligation as a district, a community, and a society to provide equal access and opportunities for all students, regardless of their differences. I’d advocate for increased pay and support for our special education staff. The bottom line is we must continue finding ways to support these classrooms, improve staff, and morale, reduce our burnout and turnover and give staff and students the resources they need to succeed. I understand that as a board member, there’s only so much we can do with the budget that we have. At the state level, I would continue to be an advocate for updated cost studies to determine the cost of providing services and programs to our special needs students and use my voice to lobby our legislature to offer better support for these students and programs.
I believe that student success is also dependent on our ability to staff and retain great educators and staff throughout our campuses, not just in special needs, but in all our classrooms. I fully understand that the district budget is constricted by the state legislature but we need to make sure that DVUSD utilizes what funding we have to hire and retain qualified educators. I’ll advocate finding ways to increase wages, improve benefits, and foster an environment that helps us on our mission of retaining and attracting great staff. A great education does require that we have happy teachers that are well supported. In addition, being well staffed will help us reduce classroom sizes, further benefiting our students.
Finally, I believe parental involvement is key in a child’s education. Countless studies have shown that parental involvement impact on a student’s educational career. It’s a crucial factor in success. I will help foster communication and offer opportunities for parents to be involved, providing them with the resources they need to help with homework, volunteer on campus, join a PTSO/PTSA group, review and participate in the district’s decision-making process, and any other engagement that can benefit our students. Parental involvement positively impacts our kids and I want to communicate ways for them to do that in a healthy way.”
- Please describe your views on the legislature’s attempts to ban certain types of books, mandated distorted versions of history, education, discrimination against children in the LGBTQ community, and changing the funding formula for public schools.
“This legislative session has been a little bit of a doozy for education.
I believe that knowledge is power.
I don’t believe in banning books. Our curriculum and library teams work really hard to source books that are relevant and age-appropriate for our students. Books offer us insight from a wide variety of perspectives on any given topic. And it is important that our students retain access to as much knowledge as they want to consume. That being said, I always support a parent or a family’s decision to request an alternative book or assignment. If the reading material doesn’t align with their personal values, it is their right to do so and I think that they should be able to exclude their student without discrimination. However, I do not believe in removing books or curriculum for 32,000 students, because there are a few families out there that don’t agree with the material.
I also do not believe in distorting history in education. From a historical perspective, there are always going to be topics from the past that could make for uncomfortable discussion. Nobody is excited to walk into the classroom and discuss slavery or the Holocaust or other atrocities that have taken place around the world and still do, unfortunately. However, I believe that it is important that our educators are given the opportunity to teach and foster discussion around these events in an appropriate manner. We need to be able to facilitate these lessons in a way that brings attention to problematic events without making an individual race, religion, or any other identifying social characteristic, feel bad about themselves for something they didn’t directly participate in. And I don’t believe that there’s any teacher out there that is currently doing that. We shouldn’t feel bad about what happened in the past, but we need to understand what happened so we don’t repeat it.
I don’t tolerate discrimination against any students, including our LGBTQ community. I believe in equal access and opportunity for everyone, I believe in their rights to exist and express themselves in a healthy way. I’ve spoken up about the First Amendment Rights of our students in the past and will continue to advocate for their constitutional rights and their Title IX protections, regardless of who they are.
As far as school funding formulas and the Arizona legislature on that topic. I see serious problems with, with, uh, things like HB 2853. Arizona voters have made it very clear that they didn’t want the ESA program expanded universally and that’s exactly what this bill does. Private and charter schools will now have the ability to receive taxpayer dollars, taken away from public schools, with much less accountability. I am a die-hard advocate for public education. And my biggest issue with it is that this isn’t the first time that the Arizona Legislature has overridden the will of the people this year by working diligently to throw out Proposition 208 and keep the AEL in place. Arizona Legislators have made it clear that they don’t support what we want, and they don’t truly care about public education. I will always be pro-education and that includes ensuring that our schools are funded to appropriate levels, our teachers are paid competitive wages, and that our students have the resources they need for success.”
- Is there anything not covered in the first four questions that you would like the readers to know about you or your candidacy?
“I’d like to start with something outside of my candidacy. I’d like readers to understand how important our local school board races are. Whether you have students in the district or they’ve graduated out of school, or you don’t have kids at all. This race matters. It impacts our community greatly. The students who graduate from the district will work in the community. They are the next generation of workers, and leaders and their knowledge and passion will impact our world. Our schools have an impact on our property values. In every conceivable way, the elected officials that represent our community and schools matter. This is a nonpartisan position. I just ask everybody to research your vote and make sure to vote. Don’t skip out on a school board election. Don’t just check something off because you don’t care or pick the top three because you haven’t done your research. I think it is extremely important that we research all of our elected officials. They wouldn’t be on your ballot if they didn’t impact your community.
I believe the teaching profession does everything with a student-centered focus. It is one of the most important and most valuable professions in the world. Without educators, there would be no professions. Whether we have college-bound students or students that are more likely to go directly into the workforce out of high school, we need to provide them with the tools and resources they need to be prepared for the real world. A big piece of that puzzle is providing educators with the support, funding, and resources they need to support our students. And those are things that I will always fight for as a parent. I believe that as community members, as a society, we can do better to prepare our students for the real world.
The bottom line is that I’m running to better serve our kids, our parents, our staff, and our community. I will continue to advocate for students and families, work to provide support for our educators, and lay the groundwork so that students of the future can benefit from what we’ve built together.”
Please click on the below social media links to find out more about Craig Beckman and his candidacy for the Deer Valley Unified School District.