The two contenders for the AASA presidency each struck a note for their candidacies during the 2nd General Session of the AASA national conference in San Antonio on Friday.
Both candidates, Gustavo Balderas and David Jensen, hail from the Pacific Northwest. The election opened one day prior.
Balderas, superintendent in Beaverton, Ore., called himself “a proud product of American public schools. And I am the proud son of immigrants. My parents were migrant farmworkers from Mexico, and I learned English as a second language in a rural school in Oregon. I personally know the power of public education.”
A past recipient of the National Superintendent of the Year Award, he has served as a superintendent in three states, in rural and urban school districts.
In prepared remarks, he said: “Our public schools have the moral imperative to serve every student, and they need strong, skilled leadership to meet that mission. My drive is to mentor aspiring leaders and support my superintendent peers to best serve all students.”
Balderas said his top priorities would be supporting and sustaining the superintendent leadership ranks and showcasing the power of public education.
David Jensen, superintendent of Humboldt County School District in Nevada, which serves approximately 3,300 students across 9,600 square miles.
He is in his 11th year as superintendent, with five years on the AASA Governing Board and 17 years as a member of AASA.
If elected, Jensen said in prepared remarks, in addition to AASA’s legislative platform, he would focus on two specific areas “that I believe are essential in an ever-changing educational landscape. First is an enhanced focus on personalized learning, including competency-based instruction and second is revitalizing education as a competitive, honorable, and viable career path to guide our nation’s children.”
The on-stage moderator, Paul Imhoff, immediate past president of AASA, posed two questions to each candidate:
- Our nation is divided along political lines and, more and more, there are some who are trying to insert public schools into their political disagreements. How should school leaders deal with this issue?
- How does the mission of AASA align with your skillset, leadership traits and abilities?
Voting officially launched at 7 a.m. ET (8 a.m. in San Antonio, Texas) on Thursday for the right to serve as president-elect of AASA beginning July 1. The top vote getter assumes the AASA presidency the following July.
Voting members will receive their official ballot by e-mail. If a member previously opted not to receive an electronic ballot, she or he will receive a paper copy in the mail. Only about a dozen members have chosen the latter route for voting in 2023.
The deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. ET on March 10. The election result will be announced the week of March 13.