The school board elections are coming up this week. Because I am not in District 2, I am not able to vote for Marco Perez, but I hope some of you will.
Our school system has made tremendous strides under the leadership of Dr. Johnson. New faces, together with committed representatives, have strengthened the school board and we, as a community, have the opportunity to keep up the momentum.
“We are Hamilton”. I’ve seen the hashtag and have been part of meetings where the superintendent stresses the importance of meeting the needs of all students and families. We must make sure our system is set up, so that all students can thrive.
By voting for Marco Perez, we are voting for all students. Marco is a servant leader committed to community. He is a father of three girls (two of which are still in the Hamilton County public school system) and devoted husband (his wife works for the Hamilton County public school system).
Marco has served on several boards, worked for nonprofit organizations and volunteered hundreds of hours in our community. His experience as a Chattanoogan displays his commitment and I believe, shows all of us what kind of school board member he will be.
As a parent of two sons in the public school system and a director of a nonprofit organization, it is very important to me that we have a school board that reflects our community.
Marco has a vision of equitable education and opportunity for all students in Hamilton County and I believe he would strengthen the Hamilton County School system.
Vote for Marco Perez for District 2 Hamilton County School Board representative.
* * *
As students, we want someone who will empower our voices and offer continuous support through our educational journey. We want an adult to represent District 2 school board who sees our education the way we see it.
We want someone who will share the same passion for our education; someone who does not see each student as a mere child, test score or cost, but as a growing intellectual who will shape the future. We want a human being who is genuine, empathetic and strong; someone who does not tear individuals down but generates unity within our community.
We believe Marco Perez is our representative. This is because Marco has demonstrated these qualities as a businessman, as a father, but most importantly as a community leader. We know that Marco is not running to force his beliefs or “values” onto us but to ensure the quality and integrity of our education as lifelong learners.
Marco is for the individual: every student, every teacher and every school.
* * *
Thirty-eight days ago, myself and millions of other students, decked in caps, gowns, and masks, sat in football stadiums and auditoriums to celebrate the end of the biggest chapter in our life so far: high school. It’s hard to imagine that only 13 years prior, I was just a chubby, timid kindergartner, running into class for the first time with a green dragonfly backpack and a nervous reticence for the years ahead.
Two schools, three promotions, and 47 teachers later, my time in Hamilton County public schools has come to an end. But that doesn’t mean this part of my life is over. I have friends, teachers, and family members who will return to HCDE grounds in less than 10 days to begin a school year that will undoubtedly be defined by this week’s school board election.
Take it from the person whose entire life has been shaped by these races: we need Marco Perez on the Hamilton County School Board.
Anyone who’s met Marco knows of his unwavering integrity and passion for local schools. You need only look to his family and their involvement in our community to see that. His true strength, however, lies in his vision for our system of education. As a father of children in public schools, he understands the issues we face better than anyone. And in such a critical time, we need someone who can lead the charge against status quo stagnation and prepare our district for the months ahead.
In an election that has defined itself with yard sign wars and controversial billboards, Marco knows that on Aug. 7, the pejorative ads will come down and all that will remain is more work to do. More to do for the teacher who is paid too little, but still buys classroom supplies out of her own pocket. More to do for the mother of three who needs to go to work, but can’t leave her children alone for remote learning. More to do for the young man who just applied to college, but can’t figure out how to pay for it. These are the stories of my friends and classmates. Young men and women like me—who are facing what could be the most challenging year of our lives—need a leader who will sit down, listen to us, and get to work.
This is a time for champions of education, and we can’t settle for less. We don’t need another school board member salivating over a return to corporal punishment or hesitating about rebuilding our infrastructure. We need someone who views our students as their one and only priority—someone who is collaborative, passionate, and innovative and sees the future as an opportunity to expand on our current successes.
Reaching for the stars is no longer an overzealous folly, but a moral imperative. Marco understands that, and he understands that public education isn’t about shaving away resources, but building upon the foundation that holds my generation in its grasp. Our schools should be palaces. Students should run to their desks each morning, teachers should be treated and paid like the professionals they are, and parents should feel confident that their zip code isn’t a shackle on their child’s future.
And although that seems like a distant reality, it comes from the belief that the classroom should be transformative, that one teacher can change a child’s life, and that a local school board member can make the system work for everyone. Marco shares those beliefs. It’s the reason he’s running. It’s why his family is so invested in our school system.
It’s also the reason that chubby kid with social anxiety, who first stepped foot into Hamilton County schools 13 years ago, can now go to one of the top universities in the world.
Public school made me. But as much as my story was shaped by the kindness of teachers and the support of my parents, it was also the school board members who believed in a brighter future for me and my peers. They’re the ones who decide which of our crumbling buildings get remade, the amount and type of opportunities available to us, and whether or not we get access to counselors. But above all, they’re the ones who set the standard for how high we can reach and far we can go. It’s a job that demands a vision for progress and change, qualities that Marco has put at the focal point of his campaign.
In 21 days, I’ll be leaving the only school district I’ve ever known. Meanwhile, my younger sister and dozens of my friends will return to class with a new school board and a national crisis unlike any other. There is only one person who is up to the task, and I am so proud that, while casting my vote on Thursday, I can give back to a community that has already given me so much.
I’m not voting for Marco because of ideology. I’m voting for him because when the rest of the world seems to sink to the lowest of lows, his one and only motivator has always been students like me.
Please join me in casting your ballots for Marco Perez on Aug. 6.
* * *
I graduated from a Hamilton County District 2 high school six years ago. From there, I went on to attend UTK. I graduated four years later and got a job in my major, supply chain management. I’ve been working in Memphis since graduation and recently moved back to Chattanooga.
I give every bit of credit for my success to the outstanding education I received from each and every teacher I had during my time at Thrasher Elementary school and SMMHS. I know that the teachers of district two support Marco Perez, and that is more than enough for me. If the teachers support him then so do I.
I have been disgusted at the devolution of politics in this country over the past four years. I saw the flyer that was created and distributed by the Tom Decosimo campaign and am outraged. This is not what America is about. Reject hate speech and please place your vote for Marco Perez on Aug. 6.