Guest commentary: BOE candidate says students learn best with differing perspectives
My name is Larry Butler, and I am running for a seat on the Aspen School District Board of Education. I am running because I love Aspen, have three children enrolled in Aspen public schools and want to do my civic duty and give back to this community.
I am a straight shooter with strong opinions, but I believe in open, civilized discourse and consensus building. I have had a long career in finance and management and know I’ll be able to use these skills to be a valuable school board member. I have sat on many corporate and nonprofit boards and know how to make them run efficiently. I currently sit on two boards. One is a corporate board and the other is Ascendigo Autism Services, a Carbondale-based nonprofit that provides a host of services to children and young adults on the Autism Spectrum. My 15-year daughter has autism and attends Aspen High School.
I’d like to take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts and opinions on some of the crucial topics currently being debated in our community and in school boards across our country.
Teachers: I am a huge fan of our teachers! We, as a community, need to give them even more support. Hiring and retaining the best teachers is a top priority. Everyone knows about the high cost of living in the valley. Let’s try and do something about it! Let’s also work on repairing and improving the communication from the board to our teachers. They are the most critical factor in getting our students a superior education. Their opinions must count. I have been recommended by the Aspen Education Association as one of their three candidates of choice.
Financial Budget: I have had a career in finance and as an investor, and I believe I will bring an expertise to reviewing the ASD’s budget and finding ways to improve it to better meet our strategic goals.
Masking and vaccines: Follow the science. If health officials recommend vaccines and masks then I am in favor of both. Protecting students and teachers is my No. 1 priority.
Critical Race Theory: I believe there is and has been institutionalized racism in this country. I believe this must change. The white male domination of this country must give way to a more equitable and diverse set of ideas and principals. I do not, however, believe in cancel culture or having children feel guilty about their race. Our schools are the perfect place for our children to learn about history and current events through differing perspectives thereby broadening their understanding of the world.
International Baccalaureate Program: I am a huge fan of and hope to be able to assist in fostering it in all our schools. I believe we have an opportunity to turn the ASD into world-class public school district, and we must provide curricula that challenges students and encourages them to reach their highest academic potential.
Outdoor Ed: I am a big-time supporter of our schools’ outdoor education programs and view them as one of the corner stones of our schools. Outdoor Ed is a vital part of building the whole child — helping our children develop a sense of self-worth, confidence, resilience, teamwork and appreciation for the environment that cannot be taught in the classroom.
A vote for me is a vote for a fairer, more open-minded and rigorous learning environment for our kids, teachers and our entire community. I want the ASD to be the absolute best it can be. Thank you.
Editor’s note: There are six candidates running for three open seats on the Aspen Board of Education. The Aspen Times has offered each candidate a guest column of 600 words or less. The election is Nov. 2; ballots were mailed out Oct. 8.
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