Posted on 26 September 2011.
Robert Voors is a believer in a well-rounded education.
Voors is the superintendent of the Glendora Unified School District. Evidence of his belief in embracing all life has to offer is given by the fact he is both a honorary life member in the Temple City Performing Arts Boosters and the founder and past president of the Glendora Wrestling Club.
His public schools experience includes stints as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. It also includes working in human resources and professional development.
He is proud of his district, a small but high-achieving one in one of the few areas of Southern California where demographics have been relatively unchanged over the past quarter-century.
Question: What is one thing about your school district that you wish the public knew more about?
Answer: I think the community is well-informed about our school district. But if they no longer have kids in school they may not have the ongoing personal contact they once did. The public sees our excellent results when scores are published in the paper and when schools or students receive accolades or awards. We have highly ranked scholars and programs, CIF champion athletic programs, award-winning music and drama programs, and incredible stuff going on throughout the district.
I do wish the the public could see all the “above and beyond” work that our teachers, principals, support staff, administrators and the Board of Education do on behalf of students. They work extra hours, days, evenings and vacations – and more often than not, at their own expense. They do it because they love the students and they take great pride in their work and their results.
Q: What is the most innovative idea that your district has come up with in the past year?
A: We initiated web-based Naviance, school-wide, at Glendora High. Naviance helps students establish meaningful post-secondary goals and connects those goals with course work and college planning activities. another central component is increased communication with parents around important decisions such as course planning, college admissions and post-secondary planning. Naviance also allows students and families to investigate, research, track and plan for the college admission process.
Q: What is one book you would recommend to your students, and why?
A: There are several, but I would choose one of three, depending upon how old the student is. They all talk about the possibilities students have in front of them and the ability they have to determine what their life will be like. They each reason that we must take responsibility for our place in life because it is more dependent on our actions and less on our circumstances.
For elementary school students, I recommend “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss. for middle school, I’d recommend “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” by Sean Covey. for high school, it’s “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin. The premise of this book is that talent gets too much credit for a person’s success and lack of talent gets too much blame for failures. this book attempts to show the reader that exceptional performance is the product of specific, deliberate practice.
Q: What is the most positive impact the Internet has made on education? The most negative?
A: It provides numerous tools and information avenues for teachers and students and is current and relevant. Students have immediate access to nearly anything. this is a great advantage in the sense that the teacher no longer always has to be the “giver of knowledge.” Students can access virtually any information almost instantly. The Internet provides access to real-time world events, instant video, unlimited information and collaborative ventures world-wide.
On the negative side, students often think that information on the Internet is completely accurate. Helping them to become discerning consumers is one of the challenges for educators. Unfortunately, the Internet can be a dangerous place, depending on a student’s age, maturity and supervision. Chat room predators, inappropriate websites and inaccurate information can await those using the Internet.
Q: is the public school system better or worse than when you were a child? Why?
A: It’s better! Although I do recall great teachers and great times. perhaps different is a better assessment. In the past 30 years, of all the changes that have occurred, I think the pace of education, the focus on core academics and the explosion of technology are the most noticeable. Despite the criticism the national media often heaps on American schools, Gallop Poll results year after year support what we hear from our local communities. Despite their low overall opinion of the nation’s schools, they overwhelmingly rate their local schools as an a or B, which was not the case 25 years ago.
Q: Why is parental involvement important in a child’s education?
A: Parent involvement is critical – not only because of the engagement and connections it builds, but because education doesn’t just occur within the hours of the school day. Children are processing and assimilating information all day long. When parents take the time to talk about and reflect with their child regarding their school day and what they are learning it allows them to become more competent thinkers and communicators.
Q: What is your opinion of the No Child Left Behind Act? Are American public schools better or worse because of it, and why?
A: The No Child Left Behind Act had some positive aspects, such as helping ensure highly qualified staff are working with students, but it is flawed in many respects. Public schools are not opposed to accountability but NCLB is a “one size fits all” approach that doesn’t work. NCLB declares that every child should be proficient in language arts and math by 2014, regardless of the challenges they face such as being English learners, special education students, etc. There is no recognition in the scoring for improvement. Schools that are high achieving, highly desirable schools can be inappropriately labeled as ineffective.
I believe another result of NCLB is a “narrowing” of the curriculum. There is an old saying, “What gets rewarded will get accomplished.” with the importance of test scores and the spotlight on language arts and math, a greater focus has been placed in those areas because that is how schools are judged – often on the front page of the newspaper.
State Superintendent Tom Torlakson noted in a letter that he is working with the state Legislature to put in place the next generation of accountability systems to evaluate schools more appropriately and effectively, and urged the Obama administration to support state-determined accountability systems.
Q: In these tough economic times, how do you ensure kids get the kind of education they deserve?
A: Glendora continues to move forward in the face of fewer resources – nearly $10 million less in the past several years. The reality is that all members of the school community – teachers, classified staff, administrators, board members and parents – are doing multiple jobs, working harder and contributing more in the face of inadequate funding from the state.
The focus of a school district budget is directed at supporting student learning. whether it’s the teacher in the classroom, student or teacher supplies, classified staff who cut the lawns, fix the drinking fountains, answer the phones or serve the lunches, the administrator who organizes, supports and leads, or programs that help students, reduction or elimination in any of these areas affects students in the classroom, as does increasing class size or reducing the length of the school year. There’s an old oil filter commercial that used the axiom, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” We are in the same predicament. If the state continues to underfund education, we will pay the price in countless ways in future years.
626-962-8811, ext. 2306
ROBERT VOORS BIO
District: Glendora Unified, consisting of 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, 1 high school and 1 alternative high school
Experience: Superintendent, Glendora Unified, since 2010; associate superintendent, Baldwin Park Unified, 2004-10; director of human resources, Baldwin Park Unified, 2001-2004; principal, Oak Avenue Intermediate School (Temple City), 1998-01; assistant principal, Temple City High, 1994-98; director of activities, Temple City High, 1992-94; teacher, Temple City High, 1982-92
Education: B.S. degree, Cal Poly Pomona; M.a. degree, Cal State Los Angeles; doctor of education, Azusa Pacific University; professional administrative credential, University of La Verne
Personal: Member Kiwanis International, Glendora Council PTA, Glendora Chamber of Commerce, Glendora Coordinating Council; has published several articles on education in professional journals