YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Robert Rodriguez realizes he is running against the establishment for a seat on the Lakeland Board of Education, competing against three incumbents who are running as a team.
"It's a long shot, but you never know," said Rodriguez, who is assistant superintendent of human resources for the East Ramapo School District. "I've enjoyed and appreciated all that the community and school district has had to offer. I therefore want to invest more of my time and skills into maintaining and improving the work of the Lakeland School District for all of its children."
Rodriguez, 46, has lived in the district for eight years and has three school-aged children. He said the board of education should better reflect the district's growing diverse population, noting Hispanics account for 13 percent of residents in Lakeland.
"Aside from my educational background, I have over 15 years of grassroots work with urban youth which provided me with the privilege of working alongside their families and school districts to help foster and create a love of learning," he said. "I understand the every day challenges families face today in educating their children and recognize the significance and value of true partnerships between families and their local schools."
Rodriguez said the biggest challenges facing Lakeland are differentiation of instruction for all students, ongoing professional development for staff and fiscal responsibility without overburdening the taxpayer and reducing instructional programs.
He emphasized he would be a team player and would base any recommendations on finances or instruction on the majority opinion of the board and superintendent of schools.
"Children learn in a variety of ways and our classrooms need to speak to that end," he said. "High-performing children need to be enriched and challenged and struggling students need to be identified early on and given the scaffolding they need to be successful. That doesn't happen without teachers truly understanding what data-driven instruction is and it certainly doesn't happen by solely focusing on the state examinations."