Candidate questionnaire: Ronald Speaks

info@islandpacket.comOctober 22, 2012 

Name: Ronald Speaks

Age: 63

Office: Beaufort County School Board, District 5

Number of years living in the area you seek to represent: 35

Family: Wife, Dorothy Speaks, deceased; two adult sons and one adult daughter

Education: Robert Smalls High School; Bachelor of Science, mathematics, Benedict College; Master of Arts in education, Pepperdine University; post-graduate classes at The Citadel and University of South Carolina

Current occupation/employer: Mathematics professor at the Technical College of the Lowcountry

Employment, military and volunteer history: no response provided

Please list all public offices to which you've been elected, when and where: Beaufort County Board of Education, since 1996

Please list any unsuccessful candidacies for public office and when: None

Other prior political and government experience: None

Key endorsements you've received: The most important and always key endorsement in any political race is the support from the constituents.

Contributions: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Expenditures: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Highest contributor: No campaign contributions or expenditures reported as of Oct. 12.

Why should people vote for you?

I believe voters should choose to elect me over my opponent for many varying reasons. More specifically, I have shown throughout my 10 years of service as a school board member and as a teacher and parent that my passion is in education. I have fought to improve the quality of our kids' education through equality of funding across the county, iPads and bringing the best instructional talent to the county.

What are the three most important issues you would address if elected?

I am particularly interested in forging distinct advances in the areas of technology, literacy, and math literacy during the next term. These are areas that are critical for all walks of life in our ever-developing economic world. If we can improve each of these areas for our children they will have (a) definite chance for success whether they chose to serve proudly in our nation's military, go to college, or join the skilled workforce. I have worked with the current school board to secure a number of iPads for the use of our students. Whether we like it or not, these portable electronic tablets have changed the way our world functions. The earlier we get our kids exposed and fully functional with them the better off they will be as a responsible adult. For many parents today the desktop computer was the height of technology when they were getting the bulk of their education. The once-debated expense of the computer lab seems trivial in retrospect. Now think, what greater harm could we do to our children than not to ride on the crest of the technological wave that will shore them up with invaluable occupational skills. My plan is to advance our use of technological tools such as the iPad to insure this.

Literacy is often an overlooked or hidden problem with schools across the nation. I have an 8-year-old granddaughter who loves to read. She follows the example set by her aunt, my daughter, who was just as passionate about reading as a child and is now pursuing her doctorate in pharmacy. I believe our ability to increase the level our children read on is in direct proportion to the scope of careers that can become available to them. My focus then is to bring the best programs that will raise the level of literacy on each grade level. I want to support the programs that are currently working and buffet them for even greater yields.

Finally, my passion for mathematics has been lifelong. I've shared it with my wife and everyone of my kids. I cannot possibly contain it with just them. As you know, math is interwoven into our everyday lives no matter what our station in life. To that end, my point here is easy to make. The higher the math literacy of our children the more attainable their dreams will be. My charge is to keep math at the forefront of our county's curriculum. I want to use the technology and literacy I mentioned earlier to improve our children's acumen in mathematics. As America becomes a nation that is dependent upon a more advanced, skilled workforce our choice is easy to heavily promote math and science with our children using initiatives such as the STEM program incorporating technological tools like the iPad.

What other issues do you see as important?

The continuation of being on the leading edge of narrowing the achievement gap, Internet safety, school security and anti-bullying programs, nutrition and health, improved scoring on standardized tests (i.e. PASS, SAT, ACT, end-of-course exams) and true student-athlete programs are areas of interest that I have. These are issues that have been brought up within our community and across the community of our entire nation. Every one of these cardinal issues can dramatically affect our students' success. It is my duty to help craft our policy and program development to not only address these issues but to navigate the culture for the benefit of Beaufort County kids.

What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?

I have always been open to my constituents. I want to extend this openness to the public by using the tools that are currently available to us. The school board meetings are currently televised. I would also like to see the important points and decisions made during our meetings disseminated to parents across our county. In the future I believe the school board will even allow video conferencing for parents who are not able to physically attend the public meetings to ask questions or offer comments.

Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give the details.

I have not experienced any of these issues.

Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes? If so, please give the details.

I have not experienced any of these issues.

Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?

I am a native Beaufortonian and have deep and indelible love for this community. Whether your family is a permanent fixture here or career transient, I believe the responsibility that you have offered me in the past, and hopefully again in the near future, will be to help your children grow academically at the highest possible level of excellence.

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