Stephan Kingsley Wants to Help Students Fulfill Their Dreams as a Member of the Tempe Union High School Board

Former Tempe Union High School teacher Stephan Kingsley would like to serve the district in a new capacity after the 2022 elections.

As a member of the district’s governing board.

Wanting to offer his perspective as a former instructor in the district, Mr. Kingsley would like to be a board member that:

  • Works to help students fulfill their dreams.
  • Provides an outlet for all education stakeholders to have their voices heard.
  • Champions additional support for mental health and safety programs.

Mr. Kingsley graciously took the time to discuss his candidacy for the Tempe Union High School Governing Board.

The questions and his responses are below.

1) What are at least two reasons you would like to run for the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board?

“I am running for the Tempe Union High School District Governing Board because as a former teacher for the school district I offer a unique perspective to amplify voices for students, teachers, and community members.

My second reason for running for the Governing Board builds on my teaching experience in the school district. The conversations that I have had over the past few years with district personnel, school administrators, teachers, parents, families, and community members have been invaluable. I have listened to their ideas for support for students, school improvement, and how school implemented programs can work to make the community a place families want to live and choose to send their students for a public education.”

2) Please tell the reader what are at least two qualifications you have to serve on the school board.

“My first qualification would have to be my professional experience. I have worked in education for 15 years, the last twelve being an English teacher in a middle school or high school classroom. I also come from a family of educators! In fact, my dad has been a schoolteacher for over 41 years!

My second qualification would have to be my own educational experience. School has never been easy for me. Being on the Autism Spectrum I have had to work hard at every level of schooling. As a result of my hard work, I am currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from Grand Canyon University. Based on my experiences I have always encouraged my students to work hard for what they want. Students are brilliant! They understand many of the challenges that young people face today, have ideas for solutions, and want to create positive change. Students just need encouragement, a safe environment to learn, and a quality education to reach their dreams and aspirations. Tempe Union has administrators, highly qualified teachers, and amazing support staff that are dedicated to helping students succeed. Our parents and community want the best for their children, and they take pride in our schools. As a member of the board, I can build on this foundation by listening to students, teachers, parents, families, and community members, because their stories matter. I want to represent their voice, reflect on their community, and respect their choice when making decisions for the direction of our school district.

3) If elected, what are at least two education-related issues you would champion as a member of the Tempe Union Governing Board?

“One of the first issues I would prioritize is safety and well-being for both students and teachers. Our current board has been working tirelessly toward this goal, and I want to continue that momentum. These last few years have been particularly difficult for everyone. I experienced everything alongside my students and fellow teachers. I have direct insight into how students have struggled mentally and emotionally, as well as academically. We need more social workers, trauma-informed training, mental health strategies, and social skills embedded throughout the school day to help students reduce their stress and anxiety. Being in the tranches I have worked closely with teachers to understand the support they need to effectively teach their specialized content, desired class sizes, and adequate compensation to care for their own families; all of which directly supports their mental health and well-being.

Another issue I would address is giving parents and community members a more visible voice in the district decision-making process. Our parents, families, business owners, and community members have great ideas and innovative solutions. They want to be a part of ensuring our students are safe, learning relevant curriculum, learning life skills, and can apply to any technical program, community college, State, or prestigious university of their choice, regardless of their background. Their tax dollars are a direct investment into public schools. As investors, their voice, community, and choice should be represented and reflected in decisions being made, how policy is written, and the day-to-day procedures being implemented on our school campuses.”

4) Please describe your views on the legislature’s attempts to ban certain types of books, mandate a distorted version of history education, discriminate against children in the LGBTQ community, and change the funding formula for public schools.

 “Well, I have a lot of views about the legislature’s attempt to attack public education regarding these issues, and I am still not sure why they feel it is necessary. In public schools, parents already have the right to know what books are included in the library and curriculum, as well as a process to obtain or object to any material. They already have the choice to opt their child out of sex education or any class that they feel is detrimental. They already have the choice to withdraw their child to send them to a school that aligns with their specific worldview. I think this begs the question as to why attempts are being made to only ban books, mandate versions of history, and discriminate against LGBTQ students in public schools while excluding private and charter schools.

What I find particularly interesting is how the legislators who back these bills remain silent about the content being taught in some of our private or charter schools. Many private schools have very religious or strong moral views that guide their teaching of history, promote their beliefs about appropriate relationships, and believe that their way of educating equals better preparation for university. They may be great schools, but there is no data to prove this claim, so it is hard for me to know if students are learning, what they are learning, and if my tax dollars are being well spent. If I am not mistaken, over 1.1 million students are enrolled in Arizona’s public schools, and only about 11,000 students are currently enrolled in private or charter schools. This means parents in our community also make the choice to send their students to public schools. Every student deserves the opportunity to learn in a safe environment where they can read books from multiple perspectives, accurately learn about history, and not be discriminated against.

As for the funding formula, I am hoping that archaic algorithm is on the way out the door. Keeping it in place only damages funding for public schools, which in some cases, directly eliminates teacher salaries and positions. Arizona currently has one of the highest teacher attrition rates. We need to retain teachers at all costs. This is also why raising taxes to pay for students to attend private schools and charter schools rather than supporting over a million students in public schools, makes no sense. As a taxpayer and educator, I feel there needs to be a return on investment. If private schools and some charter schools do not have accountability for how money is spent, the curriculum being taught, or the type of assessments used to track student progress, how will I know if my tax dollars are being used appropriately?”

5) Is there anything not covered in the first four questions that you would like the readers to know about you and your candidacy for the Tempe Union School Board? Please explain.

 “Yes! I love the Tempe Union School District! I am committed to advocating for our schools to ensure that all students are safe, receive an outstanding education, and are free to pursue their dreams and change the world. This work cannot be done by just the Board and Superintendent. We are stronger together. I want everyone in our school and community to contribute their voice, unique aspects of their culture and community, and express their choice for how they want our schools to operate and serve our students. Every person in our district has a story, and their perspective is valuable. As a potential board member, I take this responsibility seriously and would lead with courage, integrity, and authenticity. I will strive to represent your voice, and our community, and respect your choice when making decisions that are best for our students. I welcome your vote and support, as well as your active involvement as I begin meeting and connecting with you during my campaign.”

Please click on the below social media sites to find out more about Mr. Kingsley and his candidacy for the Tempe Union High School Board.

Facebook page: Stephan Kingsley for TUHSD

Instagram: stephankingsleyaz

Twitter: Kingsley4tuhsd