Elizabeth Block, School Board Candidate
on October 31, 2018
Elizabeth Block has served as public education principal, school psychologist and special education administrator over the course of a 35-year career.
She’s currently an incumbent member of the West Contra Costa Unified School Board, running for a second term.
“I consider myself to be the candidate with experience that matters because I’ve had experience at all levels in the education system,” Block said.
Block, 65, a resident of El Cerrito, led a forensic audit of the district’s criticized construction program and helped implement spending controls. She cites as her other achievements the adoption of a 15 percent pay raise for teachers, making them the highest paid in the county, and assisting in drawing up a plan to improve the school climate, which includes reducing exclusionary discipline measures and deepening intervention systems to reduce disparities in discipline.
Block has a history of turning around faulty systems. As a principal, she reversed the course of a floundering Bay Point elementary school and significantly raised academic performance. Though semi-retired since 2012, Block is still a licensed educational psychologist and currently acts as an education consultant.
If re-elected, Block says, she primarily wants to continue improving the educational performance of the district. Her plan to do so includes increased teacher pay, more collaboration, teacher observation of other teachers and additional high-quality professional development opportunities.
Block also advocates for the importance of improving the school climate in which minority students are suspended at disproportionately higher rates.
“Teacher training and improvement is critically important, but we have to address the needs that individual kids have directly,” Block said.
Block also advocates for the use of testing and metrics in schooling—and not only state-mandated tests—to check whether students are actually learning the material they’re being taught.
“A lot of times kids don’t know what they’re learning, or what they’re supposed to be learning,” Block said.
Block said charter schools are, “a reflection of our failure to educate kids.” The state should address the inequalities caused by the current charter law, she said, but the district should also learn from the educational flexibility offered by charters.
She said she wishes people who oppose charter schools “could spend a day or so in some of these schools that aren’t succeeding and see why parents might want to make a different choice.”
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