The Edmond Sun

January 17, 2011

Reading at top of list for board hopeful

Patty Miller
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of six articles looking at the candidates for Edmond Board of Education Seat No. 1. Look for more stories in the Midweek and Weekender editions of The Edmond Sun throughout January.

Chris Hardwick has a passion to help children achieve success, and he believes the first step is learning to read well.

“I believe I can contribute to the success of the students in Edmond schools,” Hardwick said.

Hardwick is a candidate for Edmond Board of Education Seat No. 1, which will go to a vote of the people on Feb. 8. Other candidates running for the board seat are Mike Blalock, Ann Stephenson Cameron, Cory King, Lee Ann Kuhlman and incumbent Charles Woodham.

Hardwick has been a volunteer tutor and now reads to first- and second-graders at Positive Tomorrows and would like to see discussion in how to radically improve reading levels in all grades with emphasis in K-4.

“Decisions have to be made to change the teaching methods of reading,” Hardwick said. “Oklahoma is rated second to last in the U.S. at the fourth-grade level according to National Assessment of Educational Performance, with the eighth-graders not doing much better.”

Hardwick also believes in fiscal accountability and transparency.

“Taxpayers spend over $10,200 per pupil, however, very little of that money ever makes it to the students,” he said. “Schools should have individual autonomy with access to resources for our students to achieve success.”

He thinks the district does a good job of keeping the students safe, but in addition to reading he would like to see more emphasis on U.S. history with the founding of Jamestown through the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence, the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights included in the curriculum. Math and written and oral communication proficiency are also pressing, he added.

Hardwick believes in school choice and that the school board should be held accountable on their progress toward achieving excellence, creating a rigorous curriculum and having the best educators at each school.

“I believe my role as a school board member is to make sure Edmond has the best educators who engage the students and create the best environment for learning,” Hardwick said, “and to make sure our tax dollars are being spent to create that environment for learning.

“I have 30 years experience as a geophysicist using the most cutting-edge technology available in my profession, and I know how to work within a budget,” Hardwick said.

“I don’t consider myself a good reader but I read a lot and I read technical material and enjoy fiction,” Hardwick said. “I had to work hard to get through college so I know how hard you have to work when you’re not a good reader and I know how dumb it can make you feel. That’s the experience I can bring.”

Hardwick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in geophysics from the University of Oklahoma. | 341-2121, ext. 171