published Thursday, July 26th, 2012

District 2: Jonathan R. Welch

Dr. Jonathan Welch, a dentist who followed his father into practice, comes to the school board election with the quiet reserve of a listening doctor, and a quick assessment of the root of the issue that the school system most needs to address: the imbalance of performance between schools with strong parental support, and those without that critical support. He wants to keep performance up where it's strong, and help find ways to raise student performance where it's weak.

His focus on the performance issue is personal -- partly because his three young children attend Thrasher Elementary, and partly because he frequently discusses education issues with his wife, a school counselor with a doctorate in education. It's not surprising that his views are informed and wide ranging.

His priorities for school board work are logical: Get to know all the schools in his district, support what works, and delve into the roots the problems that hinder student achievement. He doesn't believe in randomly throwing money at problems. He would rather explore innovative model programs elsewhere that have proven successful. One example: Changing traditional teaching formats to let teachers in early grades teach the same class for two grades, to give them more time to develop helpful relationships with their students and deeper insight into how they learn.

Welch recognizes that every school needs good teachers, he wants new state evaluations to be helpful, and he would support mentoring. But if teachers are still not effective, he would let them go.

He supports transparency and full disclosure in public schools and efficient budgets, and sees these also as means to build parent and public trust. Welch, the only District 2 candidate on the ballot, is opposed by Mike Harvey, who has mounted a write-in campaign. We endorse the election of Dr. Welch.

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