Office sought: Fairfax County School Board, At-Large
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Previous offices held: Fairfax County School Board,
At-Large, 1995; Fairfax County School Board, Braddock District, 1996-1999
Incumbents: when elected to this position: N/A
Partner, Law Firm of Moon, Park & Associates
7617 Little River Turnpike, Suite 930
Annandale, Virginia 22003
Education: (please list schools attended, degrees and dates)
B.A., cum laude, Harvard University, 1981
J.D., William and Mary Law School, 1984
* Have been a resident of Northern Virginia since 1974
* At-Large Member, Fairfax County Planning Commission
* Vice President, Annandale Rotary Club
* Treasurer, Board of Directors, American Youth
* Former member, Board of Trustees, Montessori School of
ENDORSEMENTS: The Fairfax County
Education Association and The Right to Read Coalition
1. What is your top public-service accomplishment?
RESPONSE: Maintaining high standards and performance for all of our students. Had encouraged more students to take Algebra I by 9th grade and paid for AP andIB tests. In spite of the tight budgets, we had been able to support our students' needs while I was serving on the School Board from 1995 to 1999.
2. Incumbents: Describe the top accomplishment of your last term. Why shouldn't voters blame you for current problems in your district?
3. What are the top five problems facing your constituents and what approaches will you use to solve them? Describe one challenge (or more) in your district that is different than other parts of the county.
(i) Making sure all students pass SOL tests and graduate with high school diplomas--We will have to identify struggling students early and provide them with additional instruction
(ii) Providing adequate funding for the school system--We will have to continue working with state legislators for fairer state funding. We should also lobby for a tax restructuring for more flexible revenue sources for the Board of Supervisors to work with so that BOS can fully fund the needs of schools.
(iii) Retaining and recruiting excellent teachers: Quality of our schools depends on the quality of our teachers and we should not lose good teachers to surrounding school districts.
(iv) Providing adequate facilities to our students: with the student population increasing every year, we struggle with lack of classrooms to accommodate the students. We also need to continue renovating aging school buildings. In addition to having school bond referenda passed, we will need to find innovative solutions to provide better learning environment for our students. Public-Private partnership used for South County High School can be an example and a model.
(v) Maintaining high standards and performance for our students. We need to set a high expectation for our students and demand them of hard work. In order to reduce achievement gaps among diverse groups of students, we need to provide early intervention to students who may potentially fall behind without such intervention. We need to make sure all our students read at or above grade level by the end of 2nd grade.
4. What qualities, qualifications and characteristics will you bring to this office?
RESPONSE: I have the experience of having served on the school board from 1995
to 1999, initially as an appointed at-large member and then an elected district member. I can also bring unique and valuable perspective to the school board as a former ESL student and an immigrant. I am a businessman, having managed my law firm for almost 20 years and have an analytical mind-set as a practicing attorney. When discussing budget with the county Supervisors, I can also relate to their areas of concerns as I have learned during the last three and a half years as an at-large member of Fairfax County Planning Commission other issues affecting the county, such as transportation, housing, environment, parks, libraries, fire and police stations and others.
5. How will voters best distinguish between you and your opponent(s)?
RESPONSE: I have the school board experience and am a living proof as to what education and hard work can bring to an individual. As an immigrant and a former ESL student, I have always believed in the value of education and hard work in one's success in this land of opportunities. I want to continue working to instill such value in the minds of our students.
6. What is the minority achievement gap? How have the schools been successfully
addressing this gap? What more can they do?
RESPONSE: It is the achievement gap as measured by the results of standardized tests between White and Asian students on one side and Black and Hispanic students on the other side. We should focus on early interventions for students who may lag behind. We also need to continue educating parents of Black and Hispanic parents of the options and assistance available at the schools. We should also set the same high standards for Black and Hispanic students as we do for the white and Asian students.
7. What is your understanding of research studies into the effect of school size on student achievement? What are the implications for FCPS?
RESPONSE: In large schools, students may feel lost and sometimes fall through the cracks. Ideally, it will be nice to have schools of 300 to 600 students and all students virtually know each other and also receive a lot more individual attention. However, for high schools, it will be very difficult to offer a wide variety of courses, if the size of school is that small. The FCPS has tried to create a sense of a school within a school, especially in middle schools with the team concept of about 125 students in each team. It is within the team, all students know each other, share the same teachers, and learn the same materials. The teachers also work together on the same set of students and are able to share information on students with each other.
8. What is your understanding of research studies on sleep patterns of teenagers and the implications for high school start times?
RESPONSE: Teenagers go to bed late and get up late. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense for high schools and middle schools to start later than they do now. However, in order for FCPS to do that, one of two things must happen. Elementary school students should be prepared to go to school at the time current middle and hi school students do or FCPS hires more drivers and buys more school buses. Unfortunately, many elementary school parents do not want their children to walk to schools or wait for the school buses in dark early in the mornings. Nor does FCPS have millions of dollars to hire more drivers and buy buses at this time.
9. If reducing class size is a priority, how would you re-allocate the budget to pay for this change?
RESPONSE: As a board member, I supported reducing the class size because I believed that smaller class sizes would certainly benefit students. However, funding for smaller class sizes had always been a challenge. I will present need-based budgets to Board of Supervisors and if the BOS does not fully fund the budget requests, I will look to reduce administrative expenses to fund smaller class sizes.
10. Is there "waste" in the school budget? If so, where and how much? If you can't pinpoint precisely, in what specific area would you begin looking?
RESPONSE: We have a very efficiently run school system. Obviously, with a budget of $1.7 billion, we can probably find a way to spend resources more wisely and efficiently. I will again first look to administrative expenses for savings.
11. Has the cluster director system been successful? If so, give examples. If not, what alternatives should be explored?
RESPONSE: I believe so. While not increasing administrative positions, it has brought faster assistance to schools and parents.
12. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of SOLs?
RESPONSE: Advantages: setting grade by grade content standards and measurable goals. Disadvantages: judging students and schools on a stand-alone high stakes test. Teachers and students are also focused too much on testing preparation.
13. Explain how No Child Left Behind sets standards on categories of students and its implications for Fairfax County schools.
RESPONSE: The law requires each state participating in Federal Title I program to devise an accountability plan where five different measurable goals are to be met by each of seven different sub-groups (all students, black, white, Hispanic, students with disabilities, limited English proficient, and low-income) of schools and school districts. Therefore, there are 35 categories where each school is required to meet goals set by state. Schools are expected to show AYP (adequate yearly progress) each year and 100% of students are required to pass state tests in math and English by year 2014. One of the major implications in Fairfax is how to help LEP students (we have in Fairfax County 42% of all LEP students in Virginia) pass the states test and meet the goals set by this new federal mandate. In order to help schools which may be labeled as "needing
improvement"?, FCPS may have to somehow find additional resources from somewhere and such resources may be hard to come by.
14. If you had an extra $1 million to spend on the school system any way you would like, how would you spend it?
RESPONSE: I would use the money to fund all day kindergarten program to more students.
15. What are the hallmarks of a well-run school? Include measurable characteristics.
RESPONSE: High academic achievement with low behavioral problem. It is a school where administrators and teachers are well respected by students and parents. Students should also respect each other. Parents are always welcome by teachers and administrators. All students graduate and enter into post-secondary education or employment upon their graduation.
16. What are the hallmarks of an excellent teacher? Include measurable characteristics.
RESPONSE: One that can be considered a lifetime mentor by students and called upon by students even long after their graduation. One who helps every student succeed. One who is willing to come in before the first period and stays late after school to answer students' needs. One that is very open to suggestions from students and parents.
17. If you were to create your own core curriculum, what subjects would you include? Place in priority order.
RESPONSE: English, math, social studies, science and computer, foreign languages, music and arts, and physical education.
18. What are the advantages and disadvantages of public-private partnerships as they relate to Fairfax County schools?
RESPONSE: The South County High School is an excellent example of success of a public-private partnership. It can expedite the building of much needed facilities by not having to go through a rather lengthy funding process. Some of the properties held by FCPS can be also sold to private business for much needed funds or exchanged for substitute properties or services from private business.
19. How would you increase involvement of the general public in the public schools?
RESPONSE: FCPS can conduct more general surveys seeking public input on important school issues. It should also try harder to engage general public by going to civic association meetings. The budget documents should be made more understandable to general public whose taxes support the funding for the school system.
20. How would you increase parental involvement in the public schools?
RESPONSE: Principals should be encouraged to invite neighbors, not just parents, surrounding their schools to many of their school activities. Principals should also attend as many civic association meetings as possible to keep the members thereof informed of what is going on in their schools.
21. What additional public safety steps would you recommend in addressing gangs
and violent activities on or near school property? Has the rate of violent acts increased, decreased or stayed the same in the last four years? County-wide? By pyramid in the area you live?
RESPONSE: The rate of violent acts seems to have decreased, not just in the area I live but throughout the county. Many of the students in the gang related activities struggle with academics. Once we identify potential gang members, we should focus more on helping them succeed academically and thus guide them out of their unlawful, disruptive activities.
22. What school-boundary strategies could be used to address the inequity of under- and over-enrolled schools within FCPS?
RESPONSE: A solution developed from the community is always more acceptable than one that is handed down from above. The school system should lay out the issues confronting, and information related to, particulars schools affected by potential boundary discussion and ask the communities to come up with a solution, if they can. The school board members and staff should listen to all different viewpoints with patience, but need to maintain fairness and consistency in decision making process.