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Colett is up to speed, ready to serve on board


I’m a parent of a rising junior at Southridge, with a professional background in education and education research. As a co-founder of Beaverton Friends of Music, I’ve been privileged to work alongside Tom Colett this past year, ever since the organization sprang up last May because of the disproportionate, inequitable cuts to the school music program that were part of the 2012-13 budget.

Initially, we all came together because of our love of music, but as we have gone on, our research, testimony and conversations with board members have emphatically made the point that music is just one crucial component in a successful, complete education for all children.

As we parents know, such urgent issues as class size, teacher experience and placement, holistic education that supports and empowers every student, and the prioritizing of money to the classroom are interconnected. They cannot and should not be pitted against each other, even and especially in times of crisis.

I’ve watched Tom’s dedicated, tireless work as he envisioned how we could build a network of parents across the school district, to enable the community to speak their minds and make their voices heard loudly enough that they would affect the Beaverton School District’s choices going forward, and then actually made it happen. He’s the only candidate who has a proven record in this crucial area. Watching him work, I saw a dynamic, constantly learning mindset, as well as an incredibly strong, sympathetic instinct that enables him to reach out to people and be receptive to their experience and perspectives. His communication skills with parents, the board and district, and state legislators are unparalleled. It’s not surprising that this is the case, given that he is a writer whose talents are recognized by no less than the highly demanding master’s of fine arts program at Bard.

Yet Tom’s not just a successful advocate to the board. In the course of his work, he’s gotten to know board members one-to-one, and they have developed such a high opinion of him that two of them have taken the unusual step of co-endorsing him as a viable potential member of the board. The last elected board member from Zone 7 has endorsed Tom rather than her appointed successor. These folks know that even though Tom is the youngest candidate, he is insightful, deliberate in his choices, genuinely engaged with the community, and will be completely able to hit the ground running this summer.

A point that needs to be settled once and for all: Tom is by no means interested only in music. Anyone who persists in saying so is simply not listening, and is potentially doing the voters of the district a deep disservice. You need only talk with Tom for a few minutes to realize that he has taken the time to educate himself to a fully comprehensive understanding of education policy and issues from classroom to district to state to nation. Further, his significant endorsements, including the chair of the Oregon State Senate Education Committee, attest to his impressive grasp of the complex history and possible future of Beaverton schools.

From everything I’ve seen and learned about Tom, both his energetic commitment and his calm, rational ability to build bridges across groups, I can say that Tom Colett is a School Board candidate we will be able to be proud of, and whom we can trust to make the best-considered, most community-respecting choices in these crucial times for all of Beaverton’s children.

Carolyn Talarr is a Beaverton resident and Southridge parent.