• Diana Farnsworth and Erik Schorr will face-off for Anacortes School District Board of Commissioners, Position 2, in the general election Nov. 2.
School Board members are elected to four-year terms.
Erik Schorr said he feels called to serve the community and believes a seat on the Anacortes School Board is the best place for him to do that.
He wants to look at ways to improve student achievement and make Anacortes one of the best school districts in the nation.
Running for School Board
Schorr said what sets him apart as a candidate is his experience with different boards and committees and with collaborating with others to make sure all voices are heard.
He also has a lot of experience with risk management through Anacortes Kayak Tours, the business he co-owns with wife Megan. That experience will help him look at what the schools are facing and help make the best decisions for all students.
Schorr said while having children in the district is not a requirement, he does think it helps. He has a student at the high school and one at the middle school and said having children currently in the schools offers a firsthand look at what challenges exist.
Now that his children are a little older, Schorr said he has more time to get involved. His business is seasonal, leaving him with time during the school year to serve.
Working through a pandemic
Schorr said he believes the district did its best at an unprecedented time, but there were some missteps.
Online learning was not a good fit for kids, he said. He saw it in his own children and heard about it from other parents.
The district tried to get that learning out to students, but it just didn’t translate well via a computer screen, he said.
The district had to come up with a quick plan and implement it, but now is the time to get kids back into a world of consistency and learning.
It’s also time to take a look at the data that came out around the world in the last 18 months and see where students may be seeing risks based on how they were learning over that period, Schorr said.
Looking globally may also lead to new understanding about the way school could be handled now. In Europe, for example, many schools are back to a level of normalcy that schools here are not seeing. In those countries, masks are not required for primary learners. They determined that the negatives outweighed the benefits for young students, he said.
Looking at their decision-making processes may help bring about different decisions here, such as with wearing masks in schools, Schorr said.
For young children, the pandemic is now reaching the point where it’s taking up a quarter of their life. As temporary measures stretch on, they are affecting a greater percentage of children’s lives. That time cannot be given back to these kids, so the district needs to look at how regulations are affecting its youngest students.
When it comes to looking at learning loss or missed learning opportunities that happened during the pandemic, kids need to be brought up to speed. It’s going to be difficult, but it should be priority No. 1, before any other programs or issues, Schorr said.
That means some kids may need to be learning on “double speed” to make sure they are ready to go on to the next level of learning.
“Exceptional times call for extraordinary measures,” he said. “We should be 100% focused on getting kids back to where they were.”
Superintendent Justin Irish has proven to be a great communicator and someone who will listen to issues, Schorr said.
If elected, Schorr wants to bring that same sense of listening to the School Board.
It’s already there in some ways but can be expanded, he said. For example, when parents visit the board, they are able to speak during public comment, but the board does not respond during a meeting. It’s better to set up a time for dialog so the parents know they are being heard, Schorr said.
“I think the board should be able to ask questions and to clarify what that parent meant and get to the bottom of it, rather than just receiving the outrage or thanks,” he said.
Interaction is a way to really get people involved in a real way, something that could greatly benefit the School District, Schorr said.
“I want to try to find ways to get families more involved in their individual child’s education,” he said,
Civic engagement will help make sure the needs of all students are being met, he said.
It’s also important to have a variety of perspectives on the board, he said. The only way to represent all students and all families is to have people who will bring different approaches to problems and then work together to make sure they can find the solutions that will work for the majority of people.
Another priority for Schorr is to focus on all the kids in the district. There is a lot of attention given to those who are the highest achievers and to those who are struggling the most, as there should be, but there are many kids in the middle who aren’t getting the resources they deserve, he said.
Finding ways to reach those students and to improve their education is just as important as reaching the highest and lowest achievers, Schorr said.
When a district focuses on just bringing the scores or achievements up from the bottom achieving group to the top achieving group, they are missing out on what they could be doing.
Instead of breaking students down into different demographics and trying to improve scores of smaller groups, the district should focus on bringing up the scores of all students and helping everyone achieve great things, he said.