School Director Spotlight on Alain Oliver, Region 3
Check out the Broad & Liberty article on Alain Oliver!
Alain Oliver is running for school director in Region 3 of the West Chester Area School District, located in Chester and Delaware counties. He is a registered Republican and the executive director of a nonprofit.
Why are you running for school board?
“Born in Cuba, I am bilingual in English and Spanish and have dedicated my career to the service of others through nonprofit work. A naturalized United States citizen, I take my responsibility as an American very seriously and am seeking public office as a way to give back to the country that has given me a home and a better life.”
What are the most important issues facing the West Chester Area School District?
“Academics. The reason public schools have a monopoly on free education is to ensure that every child, regardless of their circumstances, can gain the education, skills, and knowledge necessary to carry themselves successfully through a lifetime. Especially in a globally competitive world, compounded by the collapse of geographic markets as a result of remote work, our children will have to carve out a career in a hyper-competitive environment. Students must master the basics before they can rise to the top of their potential. If we fail at academics, then any other victory will be short-lived and hollow. We can’t take our focus off the goal: academic excellence.”
What is your professional background/experience? What skills would you bring to the board?
“For the last twenty years, I have worked in the nonprofit sector, focusing on serving the Hispanic community. I’ve supported programs in maternal and child health, early childhood development, after-school programs, mental health, and counseling services. Most of my career has been in service to others, and I view this role as a school director in the same light. I look forward to bringing my community-based service experience to the board. Academically, I have an economics degree from Emory University and an MBA from Penn State Smeal College of Business. I feel that I have been adequately prepared for the challenges of overseeing an organization with an over $300,000,000 annual budget.”
Have you run for political office previously? Have you been politically active?
“This is really the first political office I have pursued. I was elected as the Judge of Election (JOE) from the precinct in which I reside. The JOE is an elected position, but only those who live in the precinct vote for it. There are more than 300 JOEs in Chester County. However, I cannot serve as the JOE while I campaign for school director, so I am currently on hiatus. After earning the JOE role, I was then elected as one of the two precinct committee persons for the Republican Party. I have become much more politically active over the past several years.”
Are you running with other candidates?
“Yes. I am running alongside four other candidates in West Chester. We are all supported by Back to Basics West Chester. Our platform consists of six pillars: school safety, academic excellence, fiscal accountability, transparency, parents as partners in their child’s education, and keeping politics out of the classroom.
“Since filing the petition to run for this office, getting to know my fellow Back to Basics candidates has been a delight. I am really enjoying our group of candidates, and we are having such fun working together. There is always friendly competition to see who can campaign the hardest, who has met the greatest number of voters, and who has the best notes from the conversations with those voters. It is energizing to be around this group! Beyond this friendly competition, what I enjoy most about my fellow candidates is how authentic they are. Each of them has entered this race because they deeply care about our public schools, the teachers, and the children of West Chester. Though we desire the same positive outcomes for the students in our district, we come to it from many different perspectives and life experiences. Two are retirees who want to give back, while three of us are parents with kids at different ages, so we cover a lot of ground across the various stages of educational development from elementary to middle to high school.”
What is the most important role of the school board, in your opinion?
“The most important role is to restore trust by ensuring transparency in every action the board takes while being singularly focused on maximizing the potential of each student by advancing academic achievement. In the summer of 2020, the district surveyed parents, and nearly 80 percent declared that in-person learning was what they wanted for their child(ren)! This veto-busting, super-majority parental wish was summarily dismissed by the administration and fully supported by each school director who voted for remote learning. The lock-step nature of the vote felt like a kangaroo court and not a body of deliberation and consideration. Many parents felt betrayed, and they have told me so. We can return trust to the school board through a commitment to transparency, which must serve the pursuit of academic excellence.
“Fast forward three years to the summer of 2023, and the very same dismissive and stonewalling approach that characterized the school directors in the face of learning loss is the same playbook they are following in the face of parent tears and cries for their children who have been assaulted and harmed by bullies at our middle school. The current directors’ deafening silence forces the slogan ‘silence is violence’ to echo in my ears. In public schools, cowards huddle together, be they bullies or silent, aloof, cold-hearted school directors. Their inaction is insufferable. Leaders stand apart, and I will always lead and never cower.”
We contacted the Democratic and Republican committees in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties and asked them to share the questions with their school director candidates. Broad + Liberty will post the responses throughout the summer to assist voters in learning about the candidates running in their district. The series is open to any school director on the ballot in November. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
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