Meet the candidate: Edgar Blatchford
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Edgar Blatchford is running for a seat on the school board. Alaska’s News Source asked him to answer some questions about his campaign. Here’s what he said.
What school board seat are you running for?
SCHOOL BOARD SEAT E
Can you give me a short description of yourself?
I am a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage where I have taught since 1995. I am a former mayor of Seward and a former Cabinet commissioner (Commerce and DCRA) under two Alaska governors. I have long been active in the community including serving on the boards of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Airmen’s Association.
Why are you running for school board?
I am a strong believer that our students must be fully prepared to accept the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly global marketplace. If Alaskans do not make a commitment to excellence in K-12, we will be left behind. I do not think Alaskans will be happy, nor confident in our collective futures, if others from around the country and the globe are more prepared to function in a rapidly changing world. I believe in higher education and the first step begins right here in Anchorage.
What will be your focus on the school board?
My focus will be on respect and dignity of all Alaskans from wherever they come from to make Anchorage their home. Confidence and motivation comes from respect for others and dignity for all. I will focus on assisting in defining the goals and achievements of a well-rounded education in preparing students for college, military or vocational education. That is the job of the school. But first comes the listening to the community. My focus will be a reflection of what parents expect the school system to provide in teachers and what they teach. While we have a good system, our goals and objectives must be to focus on doing better.
Do you think students should be back in school, learning virtually, or a hybrid?
For the past year I have taught virtually. I think there is something lost in not have in-classroom teaching. But, far more important than that is the health and well-being of the students and teachers. They come first, but only after listening to the parents. We should be back in the classroom, but not at the risk of the students or teachers becoming spreaders. If we continue to make the sacrifices, in the end we’ll all be for the better and way ahead of other districts that have rushed to open. My focus will be decided on the well-being of those closest to the classroom - families, students, staff and teachers.
Should students in school be wearing masks?
Yes! The virus does not discriminate! I do not think that any person should be so bold and so inconsiderate to insist on going without a mask. When healthcare providers determine it is safe to cease wearing the mask, then that will be the time to stop wearing the mask - if she or he decides to do so.
Do you think children were left behind this school year? How can they get back to grade level?
Yes, but children left behind are in the same predicament as all the children in the country and in many countries around the world. This is our world, the only one we have in front of us. We protect the health and well-being of our families, neighbors, teachers, staff and others, just as dozens of countries on all the continents did, or tried to do. A pandemic is just as it says it is - it is not just local, it is worldwide!
How do you plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic in schools?
Safety first and only after it is safe to go back into the classroom should students, staff and teachers should the schools be opened. We make the sacrifices now when the cost and hurt will be lesser and smaller than later - if we rush to open.
What’s the largest non-pandemic issue facing the district and what do you intend to do about it?
The budget. I plan to protect the programs that serve the students with the highest qualities of a well-rounded education. There will be cuts, no doubt about it. But we must never, NEVER, lose sight of the purpose of education. In this fast-changing environment, preparing the students for the opportunities and challenges to keep the state marching to the front of the pack requires dedication and commitment at every meeting and in every conversation with the students, teachers, staff and families.
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