Candidate Survey: Jason Helton for Carroll County Board of Education
Some College, but do not have a degree. I do have technical training and certifications
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I majored in Music Education in college and come from a family of educators. I am deeply involved with my children’s PTOs and represent their school in the Carroll County Public Schools Community Advisory Committee.
I have been the appointed commissioner for the Town of Hampstead to the Carroll Cable Regulatory Commission, where I have served since 2014
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Why are you running for office?
I feel that the current administration is depending far too much on school closures to balance the budget. The last round of devastating closures have not been given the appropriate time necessary to show any tangible fiscal improvement, and already the Superintendent and the Board of Education are exploring further closures or redistricting.
Additionally, I support a renewed interest in technical education for students who wish to learn a trade, and a renewed sense of creativity from leadership, to hopefully explore more financially responsible ways of saving money.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Right now, my political role model would be Representative Maxine Waters. Despite disagreeing with her stance on many topics, I feel it is her dedication and willingness to stand up and speak her mind that I can learn most from. She doesn’t allow herself to be pushed around or silenced, which is commendable.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
George Orwell’s 1984. While it may not be directly about politics, it does show the end result of a society unwilling to speak up and defend their beliefs.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
While not about education, the book that has inspired me most about learning, growing, and pushing my limits would be Oh The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. As juvenile as that may sound, it carries a wonderful story of hope that I believe should be felt by every child in public education.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
Fiscal security without the unnecessary closing of schools or diminishing of educational value.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
The potential closures of schools for financial reasons.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
1. We need education excellence by being able to hire and more importantly retain quality, dedicated teachers, who can focus on teaching rather than making ends meet.
2. We need to ensure proper funding on the state and local levels of schools in order to give our students the optimal opportunity for excellence. This means properly maintained facilities, and properly paid teachers.
3. We need to ensure the safety of the students attending our schools, at the same time ensuring that schools aren’t converted into fortresses.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
I have read some of the curriculum, particularly that of my children. I am not particularly fond of some of the common core aspects of teaching, but otherwise they seem to be agreeable.
What is your position on school spending?
I believe we need to spend the amount of money necessary to fund schools properly. That being said, we need to explore new and creative ways to tackle projects rather than repeat the old method. With this new era of innovation and technology, new ways of problem solving could drastically save money.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
School Maintenance, STEM Programs, Teacher Pay
What is your position on teacher tenure?
I feel retaining quality teachers is vital to the continued success of our students. Quality teachers should be aggressively courted to spend careers, not years, in our public school systems.
What is your position on standardized testing?
While I feel standardized testing is an easy to measure metric, there is so much more to education than spouting off facts and answering multiple choice questions. It can be a very good tool for guidance, but it should not be the be-all/end-all measure of the success of a student or school.
What is your position on classroom size?
I believe that smaller classrooms yield better results, and when possible should be utilized.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?
The Board of Education should strictly focus on education, and the needs of their educational systems. The issue of taxation to fund these schools is a subject for governmental bodies, not local Boards of Education.