The Prince William County School Board needs a member who will pour their time into running it like a business, Occoquan District candidate Stanley Bender said.
Bender believes he is that candidate.
"I'm not a part-time worker," he said, explaining that he would treat the school board position like a full-time job. "I think I’m the most competent person to support the endeavors of the community. You’re running a business, and the requirement of the board is to get the students to be graduates with something to work at when they get out of school. I will do my utmost to get these kids through graduation."
Bender, a disabled ex-Marine and a veteran of the Korean War, does not have a campaign website, but said he has "done a tremendous amount of walking from house to house."
He has lived in the county for 30 years, and currently resides along Davis Ford Road. He worked as a substitute teacher for PWCS for one year last year.
"Tomorrow is today for the students," he said. "Tomorrow is where they are going to go. They can't just worry about today. Tomorrow is very important."
If Bender was elected to represent the Occoquan District, he said he would focus on encouraging students to go to community college. He also touched on the importance of "trying to get more virtual information into the schools."
"Most of the colleges are slowly turning virtual and using computers," he said. "Community colleges are the most virtual place that these kids can go to before going to a four-year college. The best schools that we have in this community are the community colleges. I would strive to have a very close interface with the community colleges."
Bender believes that going to a community college before going to a four-year college is a wise idea.
“Not being on the board, I have no idea what the advantage of an advanced placement course is, but I will do my endeavor to get these kids to interface with a community college before they go to a four-year school,” he said.
Bender praised the PWCS teahers.
"We have young, good teachers," he said. "Our strength lies with our teachers. We must be able to sift through the applications that come through this community, and be able to support and hire competent teachers.”
But the PWCS infrastructure can be challenging, he said.
"The infrastructure has so many fingers pointing out each way," he said. "I feel very strongly about people being on the board full-time in order to understand the infrastructure.”
Bender said it was tough to address the achievement gap question since he was not currently on the board.
“You’re asking me a difficult question to answer when I'm not involved with the system," he said. "I realize that all the kids have taken these exams. I realize that not all of them are passing. I think one of the problems we do have, and I don’t know how to resolve, is when students who speak foreign languages are just dumped in our classrooms. We’ve got to find money in the budget to assist these kids. Math and English are basic things that are required. You have to put more money behind the product and I don’t know where the money is going to come from.”
Budgeting money was a series of hard decisions, Bender said.
“Everybody wants something out of that budget," he said. "Which is more important, our future, which is the students, or the roads?”