A Q&A With An Arlington County School Board Candidate
Responses by Reid Goldstein, Candidate for Arlington School Board
Responses received April 22, 2015
America’s Future Workforce (AFW) aims to bring together elected officials, candidates and interested stakeholders for an in-depth conversation on policy and visions for the future of Arlington County, Virginia.
Arlington County is home this year to a contentious Democratic primary race for the school board that includes candidates Sharon Dorsey and Reid Goldstein. School board candidate Reid Goldstein is an ardent believer in workforce development, and he was able to share his insight by answering a few questions.
How can our schools help students better prepare for the workforce?
We need to make sure all of our graduates have solid reading, writing, and math skills. It is fundamental, but too often not achieved. But we need to go beyond that to problem-solving and analytical skills. It is not enough to be able to remember a lot of facts from history or science classes. The key is using those subjects as a basis for teaching inquiry and investigation, analyzing information to understand trends and common themes, and being able to articulate findings to others. We can learn and apply a lot about developing these skills from inquiry-based curricula like the International Baccalaureate program.
How can students bridge the gap between what they learn in school and what employers are looking for?
It may seem obvious, but being employed (whether paid, as an unpaid intern or as a volunteer) is the best way to learn what employers are looking for. By that, I mean having duties and responsibilities and understanding that other people, co-workers, and supervisors—as well as customers—are depending on you. Being reliable and understanding your responsibilities is foundational, before you grow and develop your full potential. As people move up into more senior positions in any career, they still need to understand that co-workers, supervisors and customers depend on them.
Volunteering and service projects are great ways for students to learn what employers are looking for, as it is a chance to be assigned a job, to show that you can complete it within time and budget, and potentially advance into more responsible jobs. Internships offering more in-depth experience and opportunities for instruction are tremendous opportunities. In “the old days,” apprenticeship was the standard way to learn a trade, as it is today for many skilled craft workers. We need to remember that experience is still one of the best ways to relay information.
What can be done to increase economic opportunity for less financially advantaged job seekers?
Education is the great equalizer, in a good way. One of the great engines of America’s 20th-century economic growth was the G.I. Bill, under which thousands of veterans who never would have had a chance at higher education were able to attend college. They expanded the “talent pool” (the talent had always been there, the opportunity had not) to the great advantage of our country. We need to make sure we do the same things in our schools, to make sure that every student, regardless of financial advantage or disadvantage, has the opportunity to study what they want to study to pursue their passion. Every student should have access to the classes they need to prepare them to meet their highest expectations.
We also need to do more to solicit opportunities for internships and part-time work with people working in particular fields. For example, working in a doctor’s office should not be limited to children of doctors or their neighbors. Opportunities should not be limited to those who already have social or familial contacts with the people offering opportunities. We need to help make those connections where there is not a pre-existing social network.
What opportunities are missing from the Arlington community when it comes to workforce development?
Arlington has a very high percentage of its students who attend four-year colleges after graduation. This is good, but we cannot assume that this is universal or the right path for every student. We need to ensure that we create and maintain pathways to successful outcomes like jobs and continual learning that may differ from the typical four-year university degree. We also need to make sure that those who do attend college also have the necessary job experience to understand that the demands of the workplace are different from the demands of the classroom.
Reid Goldstein is a 30-year resident of Arlington. He and his family have a deep commitment to public education. He and his wife are both products of the public school system, and he attended the public university in New York. He is the son of two public school teachers, and the father of two Arlington Public Schools (APS) graduates. One of his daughters, a graduate of the Virginia public university system (VCU), is a pre-school teacher; the other currently attends VCU and is planning to become a teacher.
He has an extensive record of advocacy and volunteerism to his neighborhood, to Arlington Public Schools (APS) and to the larger Arlington community. His service has included:
- APS Advisory Council on Instruction
- Superintendent’s Strategic Planning Committee
- County Council of PTAs
- Chair of the H-B Woodlawn Parent Advisory Committee
- Arlington Civic Federation Schools Committee
- Active member of the parent-teacher organization in all of his children’s schools
- Board member of the Arlington Sister City Association and coordinator of student exchanges
- Arlington County Citizens Advisory Commission on Housing (where he chaired subcommittees on Home Ownership and Accessory Dwelling Units)
- Affordable Housing Task Force
- President of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization Board of Directors
- Columbia Pike Land Use and Planning Study Working Group
- President of the Douglas Park Civic Association
- Member of the Resident Forum, Community Facilities Study
In 2011, he received the APS “Most Honored Citizen” award.
America’s Future Workforce aims to heighten the awareness of the issues influencing Arlington County and its citizens. In compliance with all 501c3 regulations, all candidates were contacted and asked to partake in this Q&A.