Nathan Davis would like to bring a Teacher’s Voice to the Amphitheater Unified Schools Governing Board

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Amphitheater School Board Candidate Nathan Davis
Nathan Davis and Taylor Cleland, his wife, and a high school English teacher

Nathan Davis wants to make the Amphitheater Unified School District a better place for students, teachers, staff, and parents.

A middle school Social Studies teacher in the neighboring Tucson Unified District, Mr. Davis is a committed education activist and member of the Arizona Education Association.

A Tucson native and graduate of the University of Arizona and George Washington University, he will focus on transparency, integrity, and equity as a member of the Amphitheater Board.

Thinking the board lacks an instructor’s perspective is another reason David is campaigning for a seat on the board.

Mr. Davis took the time to discuss his qualifications for the Amphitheater Board and his views on the issues.

The questions and his responses are below.

  • What are your qualifications to serve on the board?
  • “I have taught middle school social studies for the last two years in TUSD. It is critical to have a classroom teacher’s perspective on the governing board.”
  • “I am a supporter of labor and a proud union member. I understand the importance of listening to and incorporating the voices of teachers and staff in the decision-making process.”
  • “I am an activist in the community. As an undergrad at the U of A, I interned in Congressman Barber’s office. After returning to Tucson after grad school, I volunteered on state Rep. Powers Hannley’s campaign and other Democrats running in southern Arizona. Since then I have served on the Pima County Democratic Party Executive Committee and the LD 9 Democratic Party Executive Committee. I resigned from both those positions when I announced my campaign for the Amphi governing board.”
  • Please tell us three reasons you are running for the school board?
  • “After attending school board meetings and speaking with teachers, I realized that the current governing board was failing to represent the community and important stakeholders, like teachers, parents, and students.”
  • “At meeting after meeting teachers would explain the difficulties that they faced and at meeting after meeting they were met with apparent indifference from some members of the current governing board.”
  • “The current governing board members are some of the same people that mishandled the crisis following the Great Recession, which left many teachers, staff, and administrators demoralized.”
  • “Four years ago, my opponents relied on massive donations from just a handle of wealthy donors rather than the Amphi community to win a majority on the governing board. The strength of my campaign comes from the community, including Amphi teachers, staff, and parents, who want to see a positive change on the Amphitheater governing board.”
  • “We need transparency on the board. We must continue to live stream and record governing board meetings so the public can stay informed and hold their elected officials accountable. We also must bring transparency to salaries and wages. Amphi is the only public school district in Arizona not to use a salary and wage schedule. Many of our classified and certified staff have not received a pay increase outside of the #RedforEd raises.”
  • “We need to promote equity within Amphitheater. Amphi is a unique and diverse district, spanning from Catalina and Oro Valley down into the city of Tucson. Amphi students benefit from geographic and socioeconomic diversity in our schools. However, we see disparities in outcomes across the district.

 

  • How would you rate the current school board you are running to become part of and please explain why?

“There are a lot of fundamental and underlying issues.”

  • “They need more transparency.”
  • “ They are hostile to labor and the people who work there and they steamroll the union and the need for a salary schedule. “
  • “There is nonexistent oversight because they don’t ask questions and they seem to be yes people for the district and not the parents and other community members in the district.”
  • In your opinion, what are the three most important education issues schools and all stakeholders in the district face?
  • “Transparency: I applaud the decision to live stream governing board meetings during the COVID-19 crisis. The next step is to make this change permanent. We must also improve transparency and communication within Amphi. Many educators and staff feel left out of the decision-making process and blindsided by choices made at the top. We must shift the culture and climate of Amphi to one based on transparency and cooperation.”
  • “Pay: Currently, the district relies on a band system for worker pay with a minimum and maximum based on education and position. Amphi is the only district in Arizona as far as I know without a salary/pay schedule or point system. This demoralizes classified and certified staff who do not see the standard, modest yearly raises that workers in other districts receive.”
  • “Student outcomes: It is no secret that there is a disparity in student outcomes across Amphitheater. We need leadership willing to tackle this issue directly. We must reduce the inequality in outcomes across Amphi by raising student achievement. Our goal should be for every single student to graduate from Amphi, CDO, and Ironwood high schools on a path of success such as continue their education at a college or university, receiving a certificate in a trade to enter the workforce right after high school, or serving our nation in the armed forces.”

 

  • What are your views on the implementation of the district reopening in the fall?

 “My main concern is the health and safety of our students and staff. I want to see a plan that keeps everyone safe. Unfortunately, some issues must be addressed in Phoenix with the state legislature and governor’s office. The state government needs to provide districts with the adequate tools necessary to safely resume school in the fall. In addition, we must adapt to our new reality. We will eventually be rid of the coronavirus, but it is obvious that online learning will continue to play a significant role in learning from elementary school through college. Amphi has to start taking steps to teach students not only to be digitally literate but to be proficient digital students as well. Now is the perfect opportunity to work with teachers, administrators, and experts to craft a new digital curriculum to ensure our students’ success.”

  • To what extent should your school district ensure all students have access to high broadband and a laptop/tablet for virtual learning should the fall opening be delayed?

 “From what I have been able to gather, every student that did not have adequate access to technology at home received assistance from the district. However, there is much more than the district can do to address the technology gap that exists in Amphi.

  • In your opinion, please advise at least one way your school district should make up for any of the lost learning time of this last academic quarter?

 

  •  “The district must listen to the teachers and work collaboratively to address this issue. The teachers understand more than anyone the needs of their students. We cannot make policies from above.”
  • Is there anything not covered in the first seven questions that you would like the reader to know

“I see myself as an activist and advocate. Throughout my life, I have sought to build up my community through organizing and volunteer work.”

“You also need to look at campaign finance. My opponents were funded by a few dozen people with each contributing more the $1,300 on average. Politicians should not be able to buy public office. My campaign made possible by the support of the community, not a few wealthy donors.”

“I am the only progressive running for the Amphi school board. I, like nearly every other teacher, supports the #INVESTinEd initiative.”


“I plan to visit every single school as a member of the board. You have to see what is going on so you can render informed judgment at board meetings.”

For more information on Mr. Davis and his candidacy, please click on his website here and his Facebook Page here.

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David Gordon
Living in Arizona since his family moved to Tempe from New York in 1982, David Gordon has three degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Phoenix in History, Political Science, and Secondary School Administration. A highly qualified Social Studies instructor and Certified School Principal, Mr. Gordon owned his own charter school, Grand Canyon College Preparatory Academy from 1997-2016. The school served students in grades 6-12 in the East Valley of Maricopa County. Many of the graduates of GCP earned college credit for free while still attending high school, some completing the first year of college before graduating. Among the speakers at the school's graduations were noted figures in Arizona Politics like Harry Mitchell, David Schweikert, Juan Mendes, Andrew Sherwood, and John Huppenthal. Mr. Gordon also participated in the revisions of the Arizona History and Social Studies standards. In January 2017, Mr. Gordon started the political blog Twenty-First Century Progressive Bull Moose. It has a global following and routinely comments on the political events of the day. Mr. Gordon also helps administer the Facebook page Living Blue in Arizona. He is also currently writing a series of Young Adult science fiction novels which incorporate the themes of time travel and its impact on history. Mr. Gordon is very happy to be asked to join the Blog for Arizona team and hopes to spread the progressive word to make Arizona a better place for everyone.