Name: Claude Parent, Jr.
Biography: Claude Parent has been a member of the Portsmouth School Board since 2010. He has also worked as a teacher and administrator in Portsmouth City Schools for decades. He has been the recipient of the Virginia School Boards Association Academy Award of Excellence/Recognition for eight consecutive years.
1. Why should residents re-elect you to the School Board?
I was elected to the Portsmouth School Board in July 2010 and currently serving a second term as Chair. I have effectively advocated on behalf of the children and teachers of Portsmouth City Schools for over 48 years as a teacher, administrator, and now school board member. My responsiveness to the needs of the community, relentless desire to improve schools, and grace under pressure have been characteristic of my service all along.
I believe students are more than a test score and that every child can learn. I am committed to providing a rich academic environment where all students develop critical thinking, creative, collaborative, communication, technical, and workplace readiness skills. I am running for school board in order to continue to fight for adequate funding, classroom innovation, accountability, and community engagement. As a school board member, I have placed the focus where it needs to be: supporting teachers and students because every child deserves a quality education and chance to succeed.
2. How would you invest in technology and improve its applications in your schools?
I introduced an increase the in the School Board’s use of technology by updating the hardware/software to support BoardDocs- A Paperless Governance that makes meetings faster, more productive and more transparent. We have already provided high school and middle school students with Chrome notebooks. Our Elementary schools have sets of computers in their classroom, computer labs and in the library. I will continue to support updating and using technology for 21st Century Learning. I am also in favor of the use of digital textbooks instead of the paper textbooks that are outdated before they enter the classroom.
3. What are the most challenging aspects of being a teacher in your community? How would you support your teachers through these challenges?
Portsmouth Schools is is an urban system with over 70% of the our children on free/reduced lunch. Some of our students come with skills sets that are challenging to our teachers. Teachers have to continue to supplement extra time so students do not fall behind in their SOL objectives. They deal with discipline issues that could be reinforced if more parental support were present. We are implementing PBIS- Positive Behavior Intervention Support to reduce the number of suspensions and to work with students that have behavioral issues. Many parents work several jobs and do not have time to help their children. I will continue to advocate higher salaries for our teachers and to provide professional development focusing on strategies on how to teach children of poverty. All children can learn if you have teacher quality. We need to retain the best and attract the best.
4. What would you do to better support your vulnerable students? For example, those who live in poverty.
As a former Director of Special Education and having a Down Syndrome grandson, I fully understand the challenges not only for special needs students but children of poverty. Both sub-groups need extra support and the technology to help them overcome some of their handicaps. We need loving and caring teachers and teaching assistants that are well trained in dealing with special needs and children of poverty.
5. What are your top three budget priorities?
- It is imperative that we advocate for staff salaries and benefits to attract highly qualified personnel. Research shows that quality teachers and staff are the keys to student learning. For the last 2 years, the Board has tried to work with the governing body for increased salaries for school employees.
- Parents expect their children to attend schools that are safe and provide up-to-date security systems. We are investing a million dollars allocated to the Board by City Council on security equipment and additional personnel to meet that goal.
- We know not all students will be attending a 4 or 2-year college. For those students not pursuing college, we need to expand course offerings in our CTE program that will allow students to graduate with technical skills in order to enter the workforce and to further their technical skills. I will advocate more advanced placement courses as well and work to provide IB Courses- International Baccalaureate. We need to raise the bar because if you do, children will rise to high expectations.