Phan Anderson is a candidate for SDUHSD Board of Trustees for Area 5, representing the southern area of Carmel Valley. GreatPacificReview asked its “GPR Five Questions” to find out more about Phan Anderson and her platform:
GPR: For those who don’t know you, give us a brief rundown of who you are in your life and in our North County community.
Phan Anderson: I was born in Saigon during the Vietnam War. After the fall of Saigon, my family fled communism to find freedom and opportunity in the United States. We arrived in America with no money, and no knowledge of the English language – English is my third language. I attended public schools, earned a degree from SDSU, and worked as a private sector software engineer for 15 years.
I am an SDUHSD parent and resident of Carmel Valley who favors high academic standards and wants to provide the best possible educational experience for our children. My parents instilled in me the value of family, hard work, and education. Through education and hard work, I was able to overcome the economic and social barriers facing many of us in the community.
Many Asians have encountered discrimination, but I believe America is a fair society with lots of opportunity for those who are willing to work hard. I believe my story is an example of the American Dream, at least it has been for me. From my own experience, I grew to cherish freedom, individual rights, personal liberty, and equal opportunity for everyone.
I am a proud American. I will be an independent voice for students, parents, and voters, not beholden to special interests.
GPR: Describe what was most important for you in deciding to run for the SDUHSD Board of Trustees.
Phan Anderson: Like many other parents, I came to realize that our schools had begun to place greater priority on administrative goals than on the quality of education.
Very recently, events in the district caused an uproar which galvanized many parents and residents into action. While comments and remarks at the time were particularly offensive to the Asian American community, many from other backgrounds were outraged. Some, like my family, came to America with nothing except the commitment to strive for a better life. Others grew up here and, having overcome their own challenges, saw the path to success for their families in a good education.
The experience of the pandemic also made me more aware of some of the challenges our schools are facing. It is these events and observations that have compelled me to action and to serve.
GPR: This election has highlighted the aspect of “independent” candidates. To the school community and to prospective voters, what does that mean, and why is it important in your view?
Phan Anderson: Independent candidates are not beholden to special interest groups that influence the decisions they would make as Trustees. Independent candidates put the interest of the students, parents, and taxpayers first. We need our Board of Trustees to act with that kind of independence.
GPR: What does SDUHSD do well, and what are areas in the district that need improvement?
Phan Anderson: SDUHSD is acknowledged to be one of the very best school systems in the state, indeed in the entire nation. We need to preserve that status by resisting trends that will lower educational standards and outcomes.
Many students are less academically oriented, or learn best in less conventional ways. If we try to optimize each student’s educational experience, then we can support them to achieve their own individual potential, which should be our goal.
For example, for many students athletics is an important way for them to grow and develop character. Many of our students are competitive swimmers, but we have no pools in the district. Money for pools was made available by voters in 2012, but the board hasn’t been able to come to agreement on a plan to build and maintain them. I’d like to get that problem solved.
In addition, I believe our school district would benefit from more transparency in its finances and operations, and the schools would benefit from more transparency around curriculum. I think there is room for common-sense measures to increase transparency, which could promote both trust and accountability.
GPR: What do you feel are the paramount issues for the school district leadership to focus on most in the next 4 years?
Phan Anderson: Our district has been embroiled in controversy. It’s time to get back to basics delivering high quality, individually-optimized academic experiences, and improving the efficiency of district operations.
Emerging from the pandemic, many students have fallen behind in their academic and personal growth. We need to make concerted efforts to help all students achieve their best.
Additionally, not all students learn or absorb information the same way. We must recognize those differences, identify any special needs, and take measures to optimize each student’s individual experience, supporting them with the necessary resources.
District operations are burdened by fiscal constraints. Our district has suffered deteriorating financial conditions for several years. If this trend is not reversed, a takeover by the county school board could become a reasonable fear. That would be bad for students, parents, and taxpayers. We need to get serious about balancing our budget and restoring fiscal health.
In addition, the board has faced several contentious issues, often accompanied by fierce advocacy. While the board and many community members have maintained civility, unfortunately, many others representing special interests have not.
Living in a free society means that we will have differences, but our goal is the same – for our children to have the best possible educational experience, unlocking the most opportunity. This goal requires restoring mutual respect, tolerance, and common decency to our governing process.
"Emerging from the pandemic, many students have fallen behind in their academic and personal growth... It’s time to get back to basics delivering high quality, individually-optimized academic experiences..." - Phan Anderson, SDUHSD Board of Trustees Candidate Area 5
GreatPacificReview brings highlights from California to Polynesia… and beyond, with localized coverage of Greater San Diego. For more information on SDUHSD candidate Phan Anderson, visit her campaign webpage at: https://www.phananderson.com