School boards have faced more scrutiny in recent years, both locally and nationally. Some parents want more access — and sometimes even input — about curriculum. Some are still concerned about how the pandemic closures affected student learning. Others want books stripped from school libraries. Some of these concerns have found their way to the Bend-La Pine Schools district, though largely, the conversations in this race center around graduation rates, lagging student attendance and behavior issues in the classroom. These last three issues are the focus for educators we've talked to in BLPS and should be the focus of the school board going forward, as they pertain more to student outcomes than the items previously mentioned.
With all of that, in this May election, we're seeing a high level of interest in school board positions. While this race includes just two candidates, other races — which we'll endorse in next week's paper — are seeing as many as four candidates vying for a board seat. It's clear the community cares about who it selects to set policy and oversee the actions of the district's superintendent – two key roles of a school board.
In the race for Zone 3, we see a clear frontrunner who is ready to lead. Cameron Fischer is not only a parent of two teens who grew up in the Bend-La Pine Schools district, but she's also an educator who's taught special ed and now teaches at Oregon State University. Her master's in Education and doctorate in Educational Leadership will certainly prepare her well to make sound policy decisions on the board, and her focus on equity in her doctorate, as well as her participation on the City of Bend's Human Rights and Equity Commission and the community Restorative Justice and Equity group demonstrate a knowledge and willingness to advocate for kids from a wide range of backgrounds.
Fischer has a clear set of priorities for her tenure on the school board, including fostering engagement across the school community and seeking out school-community partnerships that can help to enhance the offerings public schools can provide. With her background as both parent and educator, Fischer appears well-qualified and ready to lead.
Her opponent, Christopher Strengberg, is running to help increase graduation rates and as an advocate of children with special needs or those on individualized education plans – something he experienced first-hand while helping to raise his wife's two sisters, whom they adopted. These are noble goals, but compare that to Fischer's background in special education and documented service to her community in the fields of education and equity, and it's not really a contest. Fischer is far and away the most qualified candidate in this race.
Vote Cameron Fischer for Administrative School District #1, Zone 3.
WATCH: Our interview with the candidates: