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Election/pullen: Residents should expect more from school system

by Merrie Leininger

Charles Pullen wants Douglas County residents to ask why they shouldn’t expect more from the school system.

Pullen, 40, of Gardnerville, is running against retired Douglas High School teacher Keith Roman for the Area 7 seat on the school board. He said he has read the competency plans and as a school board member would work to continue the implementation.

“I really want to emphasize I think it is very dangerous what Keith Roman is suggesting. I think we have the right to expect more from our kids, the teachers, the administration and ourselves as a community for our education system,” Pullen said. “Keith Roman has said we are expecting too much from our kids and that is a sincere mistake.”

Pullen, who has two daughters, 8 and 4, said he believes every student has the right to be involved in an education system, but not necessarily the right to graduate.

“Obviously, there are a number of kids who will be denied graduation because they didn’t do the work. Some may say they didn’t understand what was required. I’m not saying there’s not going to be problems, but it sounds like what my opponent is saying is every kid has a guaranteed right to graduate, and you don’t,” he said.

Implementation of the competencies should not be stalled ,because another eight years of planning and talking would result in a similar situation, Pullen said.

“I would submit this has been eight years in the making. Business people, teachers and parents all have had a say. To say we could come up with something better in another eight years and somehow it would be more thorough, and invite more participation, I don’t know where you’d get that.”

He said the competencies are also a tangible document that can be taken to the Legislature when the district is asking for more money.

“We can say, ‘Look at what we’re doing; we’re expecting something for our educational dollar, that’s why we need more because we’re asking more,'” Pullen said.

– Communication. What the district has to focus on now, Pullen says, is to communicate to the teachers and the public what the competencies are and why they should be implemented.

“I thought long and hard about that. Obviously, we can use the Internet, we can create an e-mail database to communicate to people who have that access. If we have their e-mail address, we keep it in a database and it would be like a direct marketing program. If we have information, we’re going to send it to you; it’s up to you to read it or not,” Pullen said.

For those without e-mail access, other avenues such as bulk mailing should be sought. He also said the district could ask businesses to post information for their employees through company newsletters.

He suggested outlining problems the district has already run across, list how those problems are being solved and then give the public another source if they still have questions.

“Eventually, you’d get an information database of all the questions that were asked or the problems and what the answers were. It has to be some explanations with scenarios, examples of what happened,” Pullen said. “We need to create various avenues. It is about being more proactive, rather than saying, ‘We have a Web site, you should come look at it.’ It is not enough to say we have the information, feel free to pick it up anytime.”

– Involve teachers. Pullen said as time goes on, the information should get more detailed, and even include test format information and possible test questions so parents know what is expected of their kids. First, however, basic information needs to be given about how the competencies developed and the timeline of that development.

Pullen,an account executive at DRGM Advertising and Public Relations in Reno, said teachers should be included in these communications by writing about their experiences with a certain aspect of the competencies working or not working and how it was resolved.

“Because we’re not here to cover up. This won’t be all good things. We need to say, ‘We had this problem that was brought to us by this person and we are approaching it this way,'” he said.

Pullen said he would also take an interest in what teachers had to say and visit schools whenever he had time.

“It boils down to being involved in the community. I’m not representing the administration, the teachers, or the parents per se. Somebody asked me if I’d ever thought about it and I did research on my own. I went to school board meetings for 6 or 7 months and I think it is a worthy thing to be involved in,” Pullen said. “I can bring a balance approached. It is all important and you have to weigh those important things and I’m the type of person who can do that.”