Photo from left to right: Bart Rask and Christian Honl

Civic Engagement is central to APANO’s mission of ensuring that Asian and Pacific Islanders are fully engaged in the political process, and have opportunities to vote in elections. In order to inform and educate our members about the May 19th special election, we have reached out to candidates who are primarily running for seats on local school boards and institutions of higher education. We will be posting candidate responses (from only those who have responded) on a daily basis.

Candidates have been asked the following questions to engage more directly with constituents, and for voters to be more familiar with their vision and policies. We are giving equal opportunity to all major candidates in the race.

 

Hillsboro School District

Christian Honl and Bart Rask

1. How are you qualified to represent the interests and concerns of diverse communities of color, immigrants and refugees?

Honl: As and Intel Engineering Manager I work in a very diverse community.  We value having a diverse community as everyone brings a different perspective and new way to approach problems, and we respect the cultures represented within our teams. Serving our school district will thankfully, also include the opportunity to work in a diverse environment.

Rask: As an Arab-American I am qualified because of my experience as a physician and my friends. I went to Benson High School in NE Portland, which has a large African-American population; many were friends and teammates in football.  My sister and cousin both married African-Americans. For several years my weightlifting-training partner was a Thai immigrant. I did much of my medical training at Boston City Hospital, which handled a large population of recent immigrants from Haiti, Dominican Republic and Africa.   In my current medical practice near downtown Hillsboro, I relate to minorities and immigrants from all over the world several times a day, every day.  Not only do they keep coming back to me as their physician, but the refer their friends and families.  Even the interpreters come to me as patients because of my rapport.

2. What policies and practices do you support that ensure all Asian and Pacific Islanders can be meaningfully engaged in the decision-making of the institution(s) you would represent if elected?

Honl: I support any policy and practice that encourages people from all backgrounds to participate in all decisions.  In my opinion, the more diverse a community involved in the process will lead to a better decision. We all have different experiences and values that when brought together enrich the process with new ideas and ways of thinking.

Rask: I would make sure existing policies are maintained that give parents from all backgrounds a voice. Programs and policies include the citizen’s curriculum advisory committee, school board meetings, personal meetings with teachers and administrator, and personal emails.  Five of my six children are currently in Hillsboro public schools, and I have used all these resources as a parent, and use now as a candidate.  I believe the school district already supplies interpreters.

3. Oregon currently graduates half of it’s English Language Learners, who make up 10% of the state’s K-12 student population. What policies will you support to ensure that students–including ones who identify as English Language Learner, have access to quality education and career-readiness programs after graduation?

Honl: The Hillsboro School District already has some great policies and programs for English Language Learners.  The College Career Pathways program provides help to all students to select a college or vocational school that is right for them, and helps them prepare the applications needed for that institute. I will continue to support these great programs and advocate for any others they help students of all backgrounds prepare for their future.

Rask: The answer to the question about ELL, I am currently researching. I have contacted Travis Reiman, head of the bilingual program, who has sent me sent studies regarding the best way for English Language Learners to be college/career ready.  Concepts for readiness which apply to all students are (1) better college counseling so students can pick a major in which they are more likely to get a job, and (2) the need to expand vocational education pathways for those not wanting college to become  skilled craftsmen. The expansion of vocational training may help with the dropout rate for those who may get frustrated with a college prep program. Third, smaller class sizes would allow students more attention for better learning, which would allow the student to reach his/her maximum potential.  Smaller class sizes is my main reason for running for the board: a lot of good things will fall into place by accomplishing this goal.  My children have 33-37 in their classes at West Union.

4. Access to quality, affordable, and culturally competent health care ensures Oregonians are able to thrive and contribute. Please explain the policies you will support to increase access to care, and address health disparities, specifically for immigrants and refugees.

Honl: The Hillsboro School Board does not control the access to health care for the faculty and students. If there are any care facilities provided by the school district they will be available to all faculty and students.

Rask: In 1999 I designed and initiated, along with Tuality Hospital, Oregon’s first low-cost pre-season medical clearance program for Hillsboro and Forrest Grove student athletes. For $20 (waived for hardship cases) a team of physicians (including myself), therapists and trainers gather at Liberty High School to do medical examinations and screening for hundreds of students every August. I have been providing free medical care on the sidelines at football games and wrestling tournaments every year since 1998.

Schools currently provide basic medical care within the scope of a nurse’s expertise already.  If there are deficiencies, I would help to correct them. I have been informed that teachers and staff are trained in cultural sensitivity, partly from the text Cultural Competence by Jean Moule which I am reading.

5. What policies relevant to your institution(s) do you support that strengthen economic opportunity and jobs for all communities in Oregon?

Honl: As a school board member I will make sure that any program provided by the district to prepare students for further learning or the job market are available to all students regardless of background.

Rask: We need better communication with industry to find out which skills are lacking that result in unfilled job positions. Students then need to be counseled about these opportunities so they can make a wise choice about a college major or vocational training.  Studies show a shortage of skilled craftsmen such as welders and machinists.  For college graduates, only 27% get a job in their major.  This suggests a disconnect between what is taught and the needs of the marketplace.  I hope to help make a better connection between school curricula and marketplace needs.

Read more candidate responses here.