CEPS Candidate Interview Questions – CITY COUNCIL – 2012
Steve Duron is an attorney and is running for his first term on the Santa Monica City Council.
CEPS is grateful that our work to “promote a shared community vision” to support public education has been so strongly supported within our community. What have you done, personally, to show that you are more than a supporter of public schools, and that in these times of adversity, our community can count on you to be a “champion” of public schools?
I applaud the work CEPS has done to promote a shared community vision in support of public education.
I believe in public education. I have volunteered with the education program at Heal the Bay. I taught pre-school through 6th grade school children about conservation and environmental issues.
As an attorney, I work with the Alliance for Children’s rights on a pro bono basis. I specifically work on special education advocacy cases because I believe that through education, impoverished children can improve their lives.
I also have contributed funds to my alma mater, UCLA.
Describe how you feel that excellent public schools benefit a city.
Excellent public schools ensure that our children have the tools to compete and to succeed. They provide recognition to a city and even to a region. Education is the best legacy we can leave our children.
My wife has been a public school teacher for 15 years. From her, I have learned that the goal of public education is not only to teach our children to be proficient in the core standards; it is also to teach them to love learning.
Public school education allows us an opportunity to teach a wide array of children to better themselves and to take pride in their community, thus making a better community.
I am a product of public schools. Through my public school education, I gained a desire not only to better myself but also to better the world around me.
Santa Monica’s City government has a unique relationship with its schools and its education community. Please explain what you think is unique about that role. What is your understanding of ways that the education community and city leadership work together and support each other? What would you do to protect and strengthen that reciprocal role along with the direct funding support that the city provides to the schools?
Open communication and dialogue between City Hall and the education community is a great asset. Working together and understanding each other’s limitations and strengths helps to find solutions to common problems and makes progress easier.
I am a good listener. I will open channels of communication and continue the dialogue of find solutions and make progress. In the difficult economic times we face, a strong relationship is the best way to find “outside-the-box” solutions to issues. At the same time, we must hold ourselves accountable to each other to ensure that promises are kept.
State funding cuts to education and local cities are hurting both entities. However, it is safe to say that education has taken the greater hit. What do you know about Propositions 30 & 38 on the November ballot? What is your position on these measures? What is your understanding of the impact on our local public schools should both measures fail?
Proposition 30: I support Proposition 30. I believe the expected revenue of up to 9 billion dollars for 2012-2013, 89% of which will go to grades K-12 and 11% to community colleges is worth a ¼ percent sales tax increase and an income tax increase to those earning over $250,000 a year. If spent wisely, our children will benefit greatly.
I do have two concerns with this proposition: 1) How much revenue will be allocated to Santa Monica schools; and, 2) Once the allocation is made, how will the money be spent?
Proposition 38: I oppose Proposition 38. I do not believe a voucher system will improve public schools. The tax hike will affect everyone, but it is most harmful to the poor, middle-class taxpayers and small business owners. Also there is not enough oversight to ensure that spending of the proposed revenue generated will be spent wisely.
Should both measures fail, up to 10 million in additional cuts will occur to our public schools. The impact will be devastating and students will continue to fall through the cracks.
Should both ballot measures fail, do you feel that the City could have a further role in supporting our schools? If so, what might you propose – and “champion”?
Regardless of whether both ballot measures fail, the City should do all it can to support our schools. Education is the key for a promising future.
I will push for more after school programs that focus on tutoring and creativity. I will seek further opportunities to improve educational opportunities for Santa Monica students and adults, and will seek programs that promote equity among students to ensure equal opportunity for all students to succeed.
I will continue to find resources for infrastructure improvements.
What is your position on SMMUSD’s bond measure, also on November’s ballot? If you support the measure would you carry that support on your campaign literature?
I support the bond measure because it will raise $385 million and limit the expenditures to capital improvements, i.e. new buildings and infrastructure.
All of our schools need capital improvements. I believe the impact on homeowners ($60 per year for every $100,000 in home value) is outweighed by the benefits Santa Monica schools will receive.
I will carry my support of this bond measure on my education policy campaign literature.
Would you support sharing new revenues with local schools and if so, do you have any ideas about how to raise new revenues?
Where it is feasible to do so, I will support sharing new revenues for local schools.
Some ideas for raising new revenues include: renting school facilities, gyms and playgrounds during the summer and school holidays; allowing more carnivals, fairs, silent auctions and used-school supplies yard sales for fundraisers; and saving funds by improving and creating new recycling programs.
Taking a longer view, what other areas of mutual support might you promote between the schools and Santa Monica’s city government?
I believe sharing facilities, where it is feasible, is a good way to foster partnership between entities and it can provide learning opportunities for students. An internship program at City Hall would be another way to educate children in a meaningful way.