Samuel Miller District School Board Candidates
The Samuel Miller district seat of the Albemarle County School Board will be challenged by incumbent Graham Paige and the hope of writing Randy Zackrisson in the November 2 election. The Gazette invited each candidate to provide a statement outlining their views and positions for interested voters.
Dear constituents of Samuel Miller,
It has been a privilege to have represented you on the Albemarle County School Board since 2015. Board service has continued a long-standing passion for me to make the community I live in a better place for all. This is why I taught at Western Albemarle and Jack Jouett Colleges for several decades, and why I am actively involved in several civic and fraternal organizations in the region.
On November 2, you will have the opportunity to vote for the person you would like to represent for another four years on our school board, and I hope you will once again consider placing your trust and support in me.
The future of our county is closely linked to the future of our schools. For all of us to be successful, we must provide all students with the best possible education, regardless of their background or life experiences. By helping each of our students reach their highest potential for lifelong success, we help each other.
We can achieve this vision in several important ways, starting with our commitment to fairness, which is really our commitment to supporting each other. A few years ago, our school division became one of the first in the country to adopt an anti-racist policy. With the help of our students who wrote the policy, we came to this commitment: “All forms of racism are destructive to the mission, vision and goals of our school division.
Our anti-racism policy has fostered discussions that allow our students to recognize and appreciate the contributions of all members of our diverse communities. The anti-racist policy has also led to improvements in our history curriculum by using a student-centered curriculum to teach a more accurate portrait of our country’s complicated history. This change in the curriculum will allow our students to learn from those who have contributed to our nation’s greatness but who were not previously included in the narrative. Our program was developed through a partnership with the Montpelier Foundation, which is home to one of the authors of our Constitution, President James Madison. We have received reports that many parents, after conversations with their students about history lessons, praise the improvements and express a desire to have access to this program when they were students.
Another way to achieve our vision for CSGA is by implementing our transgender policy. The policy was adopted on August 12 and aligns with state guidelines. The transgender policy and the resulting changes to the anti-racism policy will help ensure that CAHC is safe, welcoming and productive for all of our students.
In addition to the policies I have already mentioned, there are several other accomplishments of which I am particularly proud. Massive renovations, involving additional classrooms and gymnasiums, were completed at Red Hill and Scottsville elementary schools. A nice addition is underway at Crozet Primary School and is expected to be completed in term 2022/23. This addition will help reduce overcrowding in Brownsville and Crozet.
And while the COVID pandemic has caused huge problems within the division, there have been positive developments linked to this catastrophic event. We have recognized that many of our students have suffered academic losses and that many mental problems have been experienced. Our summer school program offered remedial classes to help our students. In addition, our current budget includes additional resource staff who will identify and begin work to help students recover lost skills. Our virtual school provides an educational experience for students who are not quite ready to return to class.
Another area I am proud of is our work involving raises for our teachers and graded employees. The Council is so grateful for the phenomenal work being done by teachers, supervisory staff and bus drivers in response to the changes dictated by the pandemic. Our salary scale makes our division more competitive with surrounding districts and therefore allows us to attract and retain outstanding teachers and other staff.
Finally, I must mention two projects that would be important to me if I am re-elected. Developing career path academies will be one of my main goals. The state recognizes approximately twenty-three Academies which will offer programs in career fields to all students that meet their passions and prepare them for success. The other goal will be the creation of a foundation that will help fund important school division priorities without impacting our tax rate.
For more information on my commitments to you, please visit our Facebook site, Paige for School Board. I ask for your vote on November 2. We have a lot to do, but I am committed and will work for the belief that in public schools in Albemarle County, “learning is for everyone”.
Graham Paige, Samuel miller Magistral Quarter
I welcome this opportunity to tell constituents why I have decided to run for the Albemarle County School Board.
Our family has lived in the Ivy Ward of the Samuel Miller District for 40 years. My wife, Julie, and I raised four accomplished children, all of whom attended Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS), graduating from Western Albemarle High School. Two of our five grandchildren are currently attending ACPS schools, so I started to take an interest in what was going on in our local schools.
My professional background is in engineering, with years of experience in senior management, consulting with Fortune 100 companies and government agencies. I have worked in the areas of information technology transformation and project management, providing over 30 years of problem solving. I will use my expertise to address the current educational CRISIS facing our Albemarle County school system.
I do not use the word CRISIS lightly. Just ask the many talented and dedicated teachers who recently quit their ACPS jobs, giving up their lifelong love for teaching and their livelihood, due to today’s toxic and polarizing environment. Teachers tell me they are forced to either continue the school board’s radical, politically motivated identity programs or be fired.
Yes, we have a CRISIS – ask the hundreds of parents who recently took their children out of the Albemarle public school system, opting instead for homeschooling or to fund a private school education for their children. Not everyone can homeschool or afford private schools. All of our children deserve a high quality public education, and no Albemarle family should be forced to make these life changing decisions.
I became aware of the extreme views and radical school board agendas when I started attending school board zoom meetings in early 2021. My interest was piqued by the recent Loudoun County controversy around of Critical Race Theory (CRT). I was worried that my two grandchildren would learn CRT in their ACPS schools. So I called my grandson’s principal, who assured me that they “don’t teach CRT” in our schools. The school principal said she didn’t know much about CRT, but was launching a pilot program called Culturally Appropriate Education (CRT).
This was my first exposure to the many puns, expressions and new cultural concepts that have crept into the modified ACPS vocabulary – words like “fairness”, “anti-dark”, “critical whiteness” and a host of other words. which I did not find in my dictionary.
What I have since learned is that our children are falsely taught that our nation was founded on systemically wrong concepts and that our innocent children are now at fault solely because of the color of their skin. Recent CSGA policies also encourage our children to change genders without parental notification. In fact, several school professionals have recently been added to each school’s staff to help assert and assist students with complex and life-changing gender transition plans. According to the new CSGA policy, parents are prohibited from being notified by the school if a child reports that their parents may not be supportive. Studies show that transgender children are at significantly increased risk of mental illness and suicide, yet school staff are not allowed to educate parents about their children’s critical needs.
Due to COVID-19, our students have lost thousands of hours of classroom instruction, resulting in a drop in ACPS academic results. Our schools should focus all of their energies and resources on developing creative ways to fill important learning gaps. Sadly, our school board and school administrators continue to place an emphasis on extreme social programming in the minds of our children, contrary to the family values and belief systems of many parents.
Our school board shows utter contempt for the parents and citizens of our region and seems to have forgotten for whom they work and who they are supposed to represent. School administrators are actively removing information about radical school content being taught to their children. In fact, a teacher at Henley Middle School has apparently been fired for sharing “real information” with his students’ parents.
If elected, I will welcome parent feedback at school board meetings. I will demand transparency in the school board’s decision-making process and policy changes. I will ask the tough questions and outline the agendas. I will work to reduce the goal of CSGA to teaching solid classical instruction in reading, history, math and science.
Our children only have one chance to make it through their elementary, middle and high school years. These are extremely critical and precious years for our children, and it is our duty to provide our children with a solid academic foundation for successful living and lifelong learning. Our schools need to get out of the “equity business” of promoting identity-based policies and the promotion of political agendas and back to the “education business”.
Please visit www.writeinrandy.com for more information on my opinions and to learn how to vote in writing for a candidate.