School Board Candidate Profile: Randall Parker IIIWritten by Kevin Moore | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rev. Randall Parker III is the Founder and senior pastor of Manifested Word Church in Toledo and a contender in the 2013 race for Toledo Public Schools (TPS) Board of Education. This is his first time running for school board.
“In fact, it’s the first time I’ve run for anything,” he said.
Despite being new to Toledo politics, Parker has received the endorsement of the Democratic Party and UAW Local 500.
Parker, a lifelong resident of Toledo and graduate of Start High School, said he was motivated to run for school board by “a desire to see not only my children but all children in Toledo reach their full potential.” Parker has been married for 14 years and has three children who attend TPS.
There are three major issues that Parker would like to address if elected Nov. 5.
“I know I can’t change the world,” he said, “but I can focus on changing these three things.”
The first important issue in Parker’s view is a breakdown between the school board and the community.
“I really believe the board has lost the trust of the community. This isn’t just my opinion: I’ve heard this from parents in the community. They feel they have no voice and no input. Some of them have no vehicles to attend meetings. I think the board needs to go out into the community.”
Second, if elected, Parker said that he would work to re-establish TPS’ transportation program.
“The days of walking to school safely are over,” he said.
He said students having to walk through unsafe neighborhoods, especially in the dark during the winter months, contributes negatively to student attendance and performance.
“The way society is now with the high crime rates and increased abductions, children feel threatened and don’t want to go to school. Parents would take them, but many parents work or don’t have a vehicle.”
Finally, Parker said TPS should adopt a local program that evaluates teachers and focuses on the hiring and retention of the best educators possible.
For Parker, who entered the ministry 10 years ago, his role as a pastor has shaped the kind of board member he wants to be.
“I hold a unique position,” he said. “I’m in the neighborhood. I get to hear what the community is concerned about.”
A self-described “man of faith,” he addressed the concerns some Toledoans might have about a minister being on a public school board.
“My faith is part of who I am; I stand by that. But I don’t want to impose my beliefs on others and I have no desire to offend anyone. I would like to see more kids praying in school, but I feel schools should not mandate prayer. As for my kids, we pray before they go to school. I firmly believe the foundation we set in our homes affects how our kids will build success at school.”
Outside the walls of his church, Parker is entering his third year as president of the Glenwood Elementary Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO). During his tenure with the PTO, he has helped develop an on-site clothing “store” at Glenwood where students with improper or tattered attire or uniforms can get gently used donated clothing for free.
“Students often compare their clothing with that of others, and this can lead to self-esteem issues or bullying. This is self-image empowerment, and it boosts morale,” he said.
According to Parker, the issues facing TPS are more than just a lack of proficiency.
“We absolutely need to be out in the community talking to parents and addressing their needs for the betterment of our kids. As a parent I can relate to this, and that’s why I’m running,” he said. But no matter the outcome, Parker said he will still be out in the neighborhood doing what he can to help those less fortunate.
For information on Parker, visit www.facebook.com/RP3forSchool Board.
Editor’s Note: Each Toledo Public Schools Board of Education candidate was also asked to answer 10 questions. Here are Parker’s unedited responses. Plus: Exclusive analysis by Urban Coalition member Steven Flagg.
1. What are three most crucial issues – in order of importance – facing Toledo Public Schools? What would you do as a board member to address the issues you identify?
1) Community Relationship- we must develop stronger relationships with those in the community who are stakeholders who help in the investment of our children.
2) Transportation- I would like to develop an initiative so that all children will have the option to have transportation to school. Due to the higher crime rates in our city, I want to study a safer way for our students to travel to school.
3) Teachers- I would like us to recognize the importance of good educators & focus our efforts on retaining & attracting the best educators for our school district
2. Why should voters select you to represent them in decisions and matters affecting the education of Toledo’s children in their public schools?
I am a parent with children who are currently apart of the district. I believe that it is more than taking a position; it’s about actively going out in the community and developing the partnership that is necessary for the success of our children.
3. What is the primary role of a Toledo Board of Education member?
The primary role of the Toledo Board member is the educational welfare of all children attending our schools.
4. The Toledo Public Schools recently completed a performance audit with projected savings of $91 million over 5 years. Do you agree with and support implementation of the recommendations provided by the audit?
I agree with the audit as a tool to better our district. We have already begun the process and I believe we are headed in the right direction
5. TPS will need to negotiate contractual changes to realize a significant portion of the savings recommended in the audit. Do you believe contractual changes can be made to realize these savings and how would you as a board member facilitate negotiations?
I believe that contractual changes can be made, however we must honestly look at all options to determine what is best to retain or not to retain.
6. TPS currently has a renewal levy on the ballot that will raise approximately $16 million annually for five years or about the annual savings that can be obtained by implementing the performance audit recommendations. Why should the TPS renewal levy be approved by voters?
We must understand that with the renewal of this levy it is not a new tax it is actually already in the monthly budget of the tax payer. In order to continue on the path of transformation, we need to make sure this levy is in place.
7. Ohio statutes require that TPS teachers and principals have regular performance evaluations with student performance on standardized tests a component of the evaluation. Should teachers and principals be held directly accountable for student performance in their individual performance evaluations? Why or why not?
I am a firm believer of accountability. We have the teachers and principals in place with the goal of helping our children become successful. If there is an inconsistency of the students performance, we must look at all areas that are connected and evaluate why that is an issue
8. Ohio is currently implementing national standards regarding the skills and knowledge all students need for success referred to as the “Common Core”. Why do you support or oppose the adoption of these standards?
I support these standards due to the fact I believe The Common Core State Standards focus on teaching principles and understanding in the early grades, allowing teachers to take the time needed to teach core concepts well—and giving our students the opportunity to develop them.
9. What endorsements have you received as a candidate? Do you believe any of these endorsements present a potential conflict of interest with the community you would be elected to represent?
I have received the endorsement of the Democratic Party, Local 500, The Communication Workers of America and the Toledo Blade. I do not believe that it will present a conflict of interest.
10. Parents today have a plethora of options including private, parochial, charter, virtual, and home schooling besides traditional public schools. How are parents to make this decision? And when is the public school option the best choice for parents?
A parent makes the decision on what they feel is best for their child overall, which is understandable, but I believe that the direction that TPS is going we are very competitive with all other options. I am a product of Public Education; therefore I will always support Public School as the best option.