“I would say BAD is not a strong enough word to use“
Harrisburg School District is in a bad way. 2 schools in the district received passing assessment grades. But 9 failed. It’s hard to find anything good to say other than when Gerald Welch suggests that “the district is in a position to try multiple approaches, to see what can work.” Although he does not believe that the amount of public money at stake surrounding the debate over charter school choice vs. public education plays a role in this 2017 election for Harrisburg School Board Director.
Harrisburg100 received heavy criticism for its unbalanced coverage of the ongoing School Board Saga thus far. In response, we will be offering profiles, interviews and personal accounts from all parties involved. Today we corresponded with Mr. Gerald Welch, candidate for Harrisburg School Board Director. Mr Welch is very professional, well educated and he quickly provided very thoughtful answers to many questions. He is well respected in the community, a role model citizen, and he makes for an ideal candidate. Find his Facebook campaign profile here.
“I believe at this time the election is a social justice issue”
This election brings up an entirely new conversation surrounding our candidates bid for ‘office of trust’ while being legally ineligible to serve. This year in Harrisburg, we could potentially elect one or more of the 2nd Chance candidates. By education and profession, Welch is the expert on these type of racial and rehabilitation matters as they relate to our candidates struggles. When pressed on Soto and Williams being on the election ballot, Welch defends their right to run and says: “their skeletons are in the public view, and they offer the opportunity for “The People” to decide if they want these men to be their voice, address their concerns, and to be a champion for their community.”
If elected, can legislation be passed in order for them to serve on the board? If not, then what could be the result? These questions and more will be explored by our future upcoming coverage ~100. Stay alert and be ready because starting now it is time to give Harrisburg and its citizens a second chance.
Full Interview Below:
Interviewee: Gerald Welch
Harrisburg, PA – Gerald Welch: Candidate for Harrisburg School Board Director, 2017. Facebook Interview
Harrisburg100: Can you briefly explain the basic aspects of this election to help the general public gain some insight?
Gerald Welch: I believe at this time the election is a social justice issue. The dismal test scores and the most recent school report cards, highlight a problem that will reverberate in the community for generations to come.
“the schools still continue to do so poorly“
Harrisburg100: Is there any information that needs more public attention related to the school board or this election? Perhaps about the number of seats to fill, the number of candidates, new and incumbent, etc.
Gerald Welch: Basically, the public knows about the school board, what they don’t know is why are the schools still continue to do so poorly. When you speak to, or hear from current school board members they tell a consistent narrative, “It’s not our fault”. At some point, someone has to have the fortitude, to admit that the school system is off the rails, and we are not sure how to get it back on track.
“I have heard nothing from the current board that remotely addresses many of the prevailing issues that plague the district.”
Harrisburg100: Would you like to convey any information about yourself and your 2017 campaign for Harrisburg School Board Director (unpaid position)?
Why are you running?
Gerald Welch: I am running because I understand how education can completely change the trajectory of your life. I have heard nothing from the current board that remotely addresses many of the prevailing issues that plague the district. My hope is to be a part of the radical change that can move the district in a positive direction. I believe, my social work education can and a different perspective to the decision making process.
“We have a duty and obligation as a community to find out what are (all) the issues, and begin the process of correction immediately.”
Harrisburg100: What are the real issues involved in this 2017 election for Harrisburg School Board Director?
Gerald Welch: The most prevailing issue at this time is that students are get crappy education, and it is not the fault of our children or parents, it is not the fault of our teachers, or administrators. However we have a duty and obligation as a community to find out what are (all) the issues, and begin the process of correction immediately.
“only two schools that received passing grades. The other 9 nine schools failed”
Harrisburg100: How bad is the current situation at Harrisburg High School?
Gerald Welch: Let’s consider this, from your own experience, if you bought home, a letter grade of (F) would that simply raise concerns, or would your parents want some answers. Math & Science and SciTech were the only two schools that received passing grades. The other 9 nine schools failed, I would say bad, is not a strong enough word to use.
Harrisburg100: What are the potential advantages that Harrisburg School District has going forward?
Gerald Welch: The advantages are that they the district is in a position to try multiple approaches, to see what can work.
Harrisburg100: Does the amount of Public Money at stake related to the debate of Charter School Choice vs. Public School play a role in this election?
Gerald Welch: I don’t think so, both sides have a strong argument for their case. Also, I believe that personal perspective is very important as well. I have spoke to parents who are all over the place in regards to this issue. Some parents embrace the idea of being able to send their child where they think is the best use of their resources. Some parents home school, because they feel that the education is not like, when they were students, and some parents just want their children to get a quality education and don’t care where it comes from.
Harrisburg100: How do you feel about a 2nd chance for ex-offenders, like those who are currently on the election the ballot?
Gerald Welch: As a social worker I try to practice, not referring to human beings with negative or words that diminish the humanity of individuals. We heard many times in the presidential elections that as citizens, should practice and pursue our individual freedoms. There is no law stating, that as citizens they are not able to run for office. What is evident, is that their skeletons are in the public view, and they offer the opportunity for “The People” to decide if they want these men to be their voice, address their concerns, and to be a champion for their community.
Harrisburg100: Is this part of the debate related to 2nd class citizens?
Gerald Welch: Usually, this is a term to define individuals as “Other” and limit their access to the franchise, and relegates them to a permeant caste system, where they are never able to access full and absolute redemption. It supports a narrative that these individuals, have nothing productive to add to the conversation, or you can contribute, but just in the manner that we see fit.
Harrisburg100: If they would be elected, do you have any insight into what the process would be to challenge the current laws that bar felons from serving an ‘office of trust’?
Gerald Welch: The problem is that these laws effect every aspect of their lives not just running for office, it is akin to double jeopardy, bars them from employment, housing, education, professional licenses, and a plethora of other resources. These laws, rules, regulations, and practices fuel the fire of recidivism. Many times individuals are never made whole, and the real tragedy, is that the entire family suffers as well. Everyone, in the family, wives, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, everyone! Because the entire family has to commit to the welfare of the individual as well. Also, it continues to perpetuate the social burden, because when that parent is unable to obtain or sustain employment, they rely on the state to stand in the gap, that further perpetuates the welfare state narrative.
Harrisburg100: You mentioned that Mr. Soto has recently been the victim of a “high-tech lynching” related to Harrisburg 100 one-sided coverage and the public backlash of some online commenters, would you like to explain anything further on this topic?
Gerald Welch: It is called active measures, the media puts out a story, and the community continues to repeat the story! Everyone knows Mr. Soto’s history, it’s not a secret, but during this election, we see the vitriol in the comments related to him. I find it shocking, because often is attached to individuals who label themselves as liberals, or progressives. I am sure your readers are familiar with enough history that I don’t have to explain the deplorable treatment of Black men in America. The stories continue to try to diminish his relevance to the community he serves, he is there all the time, and many show up only at election time.
Harrisburg100: Do you have anything further to say about Fowler?
Gerald Welch: I have nothing to offer in regards to Ms. Fowler, I wish her well in her endeavors and that if she is elected she will serve with integrity and the uncompromising dedication that Social Workers demonstrate everyday.