Getting To Know Bobby Roy, Candidate For EGUSD Board Of Education Trustee Area 3
The Elk Grove Tribune will be interviewing local candidates for the elections. If you haven’t already, please register to vote as your vote counts. Elections will be held on November 3, 2020. The deadline to register to vote is October 19, 2020.
Let us introduce to you Bobby Roy who is running for the EGUSD Board of Education. More specifically, Roy is running for Trustee Area 3 which covers Elementary, Middle, and High schools.
Trustee Area 3
- Herman Leimbach
- Barbara Comstock Morse
- John Reith
- Union House
- Samuel Jackman
- Las Flores
- Rio Cazadero
Interviewer: So tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do as a day job? What are your hobbies?
Roy: I feel like I am from Sacramento even though I was born in San Francisco and my first memory was of Vacaville, but I moved to Sacramento when I was four. I’ve grown up here ever since. I love Sacramento and I was here before it got as big as it is now. There is a lot of potential here and I love this community. I don’t see myself leaving here unless some amazing opportunity presents itself.
Working In Education
Roy: Having said that, my profession is in Education. I’m actually an Education Programs Consultant at the California Department of Education. I have been at the Department of Education for 20 years now. I started as a Student Assistant and I worked my way up. After that, I was a Clerical Worker, I answered the front line phones for the Executive Office at the start of my career. Then I got to move into Fiscal and Administrative Services, the Educational Data Management Division and now I’m an Education Consultant in the Legal and Audits Division.
There, I get to work on protecting the rights of students and their families. I make sure they have access to a free and equitable education. Any time that students feel like their rights are violated, they can use the Uniform Complaint Procedures to file a complaint. The student or the parent can file it, and even teachers file a complaint on behalf of their students. It will often get appealed up to my level.
In one case, a school was charging families for what should have been a free music class. Ultimately we ruled that the district did improperly charge families to rent these band instruments and we got these families back their money. That allowed students to continue using the program. I definitely feel like I am protecting our students and I am definitely making sure that students get the education that they deserve.
Hobbies And Community Service
Roy: Hobby wise, I am definitely all about the community. I enjoy serving in the community, whether that’s with movie screenings or researching history. I’ve done a few workshops where I research the history of Sacramento and how Sacramento has come up, but also researching the Filipino American community.
I am a Filipino American and I serve on the Filipino American National Historic Society as its Treasurer. I want to promote the idea that we are all here and we have all contributed to the fabric of this city, this country, and empower people to understand that we truly are a part of the United States of America.
I’m also really big on healing circles and I facilitate healing circles throughout different parts of the city and the state. I really focus on telling and sharing our stories because understanding our history allows us to understand ourselves. But understanding other people’s history allows us to understand humanity. I think that is a big piece of where we need to go moving forward. I think we can help serve society by ‘talk stories’ — that’s what we call it in the Islander Community, and in the Asian community in general. Sharing stories allows us to understand more about one another.
I also enjoy comic books! I think it’s because I am an only child and I was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs. My grandmother was around but her English was never really that great, so I was left with my books, my comic books, and my superheroes.
Comics And SuperHeroes
Interviewer: Who is your favorite superhero?
Roy: My biggest hero is Superman. I know, it is a little vanilla or whatever because Superman is such a goody-two-shoes. But I mean, really, I grew up watching Christopher Reeve and those Superman movies and I remember watching it on my 13-inch black and white Zenith TV and just really wanting to be that servant, that person that people could count on. It’s the American way of doing things and a lot of people might call me Pollyanna, but I really do believe in that.
I believe in the good of people. I believe that inherently we’re all good people that want to do better. And it’s just a matter of people being given real first chances and people being given the opportunity to do better. I am all about second chances. But I also wonder and often ask what happens if we give people real first chances? And I think that that’s a big deal.
Interviewer: So is it alright if I ask about your family life?
Roy: Sure, so I’m 41 years old, I am unfortunately divorced, we had no kids together. However, I do have four God kids, two of whom are in the district. And so when I think of this work and when I think of my work in education, I definitely think of them. And I really believe in what Rita Pierson does. She was Teacher Of The Year in Texas, unfortunately, she passed away. But Rita Pierson has a great TED talk where she talks about how every child needs a champion.
And I really believe that every child needs a champion and that champion doesn’t necessarily have to be a teacher. It could be as a yard duty person. It could be the lunch lady.
And there are multiple examples of people that just believe in kids. And because of that one caring adult, that kid’s life trajectory was changed for the positive. It changed for the better. So I really believe that it just takes one caring adult to get into the life of that right child. And it’ll be that experience that will propel that child to a great future and ultimately a great future for the rest of us.
Interviewer: So why are you running for this position?
Roy: So if it’s not obvious, I’m running for this position because I’m just passionate about education. I do believe that [education] is a great equalizer when implemented. And I believe that it can open up doors and possibilities for so many people. I also believe, though, that education doesn’t just happen within the four walls of the classroom.
Education happens outside of the classroom as well. So while I have done a lot in the community, like leadership workshops for different communities, healing circles, talking about mental health, everything like that, I’m not an educator. I don’t have a teaching credential, so I can’t do it within the classrooms. But if I can get on the board and create conditions so that those great educators can better support students and better support the families that those students are coming from, then I want to be a part of that. Like I said, every child needs a champion. And as Rita Pierson said, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of champions throughout my life.
Memorable Teachers And Moments
Roy: I think of Miss Martinez, who was my sixth-grade teacher. I was in a competition for a spelling bee, and my mom was working. So that meant I couldn’t make it there. And Miss Martinez drove me to the spelling bee, and that one act — oh, my gosh, thank you for letting me compete on that stage. She just gave me an opportunity to compete at the county spelling bee. I didn’t win but looking back, I realized that she went out of her way to serve me.
There was also Mr. Olds, in middle school, Miss Gorman, who was my yearbook teacher, Mr. Olds was a history teacher. Mr. Piper at my high school was also a history teacher. Mr. Olds and Mr. Piper, in particular, got me involved in History Day. I learned so much from that project-based learning. And it was an after school extracurricular program, but it kept me out of trouble. It taught me a lot about analysis. It ended up helping me prepare for college in ways that I never would have thought imaginable. And just again, those teachers, Mr. Piper ended up taking me on a special trip to the Museum of Tolerance down in Los Angeles, where I got to interview child survivors of the Holocaust.
Through History Day I went to the Bay Area. I got to interview a Supreme Court attorney that fought for bilingual education. I got to interview World War II sailors that served in the segregated military but were court-martialed. Ultimately that court-martial was overturned in the 90s. I would never be able to repeat those experiences. I want to give back because they were such life-changing experiences.
Mother As The Role Model
Roy: And how can I forget my mom? My mom was a teacher in the Philippines. And when she came to the US, she never got her credential, but she ended up becoming a bilingual aid. Eventually, she became a substitute teacher for Elk Grove Unified. Also, she taught at the YMCA Child Development Center. I went back to that YMCA a decade after she passed, and there was a teacher there who she had taught with. That teacher remembered my mom and remembered all of the good that my mom did. My mom cared and people remembered her for it.
She ingrained in me the love of learning and the value of an education. Basically, I want to give that love of learning back to people because when you can learn something, you can always feel empowered to get yourself out of a bad situation. So that’s why I’m running for the EGUSD Board of Education.
Can You Rise Up To The Occasion?
Interviewer: Why do you think you’re a good fit?
Roy: I feel I’m a good fit because I’m rooted in the community. In fact, I still live in the same childhood home that we bought in ‘84. I’m dedicated to this community. I was committed to it even when the market was going wild and other people around me were moving to different parts of the county or even an adjacent county. I knew I wanted to stay here because I believe in reinvesting in the community and I believe in paying forward everything that I got. Professionally, I do bring 20 years of state-level policy experience, fiscal and administrative services, alongside educational data management in the legal and audit division. I even have some charter school experience.
I understand those systems from the state level and want to bring in some of that insight to the local ground level. In reality, there is more authority on the local ground level. And that’s the way it’s written in the California Constitution, that the local governing board has a lot of autonomy and authority in ensuring the education of our students. I want to bring my experience to this community.
The current board member, Chet Madison Sr. has served on the board for 20 years and is the longest-serving board member and is not seeking re-election. There could be a vacuum there with his leaving or we can try to fill that position with the most qualified person. I believe I bring a lot of those qualifications with me into this position, especially with this pandemic. The board has a lot of important decisions to make. And I want to help the district navigate that in a safe manner. I want to help bring equity to the district.
After The Pandemic
Roy: I know that before the pandemic there were incidents that had to deal with equity, that students of color were having troubles within the district. I also know that there were a lot of mental health challenges within the district. We know that bullying has completely transformed since the time that I was in school. Cyberbullying is through the roof. And unfortunately, in one of the programs we administer through one of my nonprofits, one student actually committed suicide a couple of years ago. And that is still affecting our community.
I also serve on the Government Alliance on Race and Equity for the California Department of Education. I know I want to bring that experience to the implementation of the Educational Equity Action Plan that the board has already begun and started to implement. But I also think that there’s room in there for some improvements. And how do you accelerate equity in the district? How do you make it efficient and really make it stick? I hope to instill a culture for equity and become a part of the fabric of the district so that there truly is equity at all levels for all students, no matter what challenges or gifts that they bring to the table. We need to give these students what they need.
Challenges And Transformation
Interviewer: What challenges and changes do you want to make to the city of Elk Grove and to the school district?
Roy: So I spoke about this before, but I believe that the biggest challenge for Elk Grove and my district is equity. Making sure that our resources are spread out to make everything equal. Right now, this lack of equity is showing in distance learning. The board has decided to do distance learning, and I agree. We can’t open the schools unless it’s safe for everyone. But while we are in distance learning, how do we serve students who need that face-to-face learning? This includes special education students, English learners, students who are dealing with social and emotional issues, and our younger students.
Older students are more independent and can log on, but there are other issues. What about students who don’t have broadband internet? The students who don’t have the equipment? How can we help them? We have to close what the State Superintendent called the “digital divide,” which is real and it’s pervasive.
Surge Testing And Prop 15
Roy: After that, we need to figure out how to open up our schools. There is this model called Surge Testing. So you reopen the schools and you start teaching. When there is a case, you surge test as quickly as possible. You test the class and the school if you have to. You try to quell the growth of the virus. I’ve worked on a community-based test site in Sacramento county. We are one of ten test sites. Fortunately, we are working with the district and all district staff can come to these locations and get tested with no charge. We are able to react quickly if there is an infection. We are getting test results within three days. It allows us to make decisions quickly.
We also need to pass Prop 15 because it would give funding to our districts. We need to pass it so we can provide services like counselors and social workers. Everyone is dealing with the trauma of the pandemic. When schools reopen, we are going to have students who are traumatized. We need these services so we can check in with the students, families, and the staff who run our schools. It is estimated that Prop 15 will bring in $38 million into the district budget every year. That would bring so many services to everybody.
Parental Involvement And Equity
Roy: I also want to reduce the barriers to parent involvement. I want adults to know everything that is in place. I also want the various committees in education to get involved and inform our parents. Additionally, I want these committees to weigh in on how the district’s budget is spent. If we need to rotate meeting times and days so more people can get involved, then let us do that. I want people to know their rights and how they can improve schools.
Ultimately, I want to bring equity to all of the schools. I want some results-based accountability. I want to implement all of these tools across the entire district. And it’s easy to figure this out because we need to ask who are we leaving out? Who have we not considered? What do they need? And how do we provide that? We also find that it is the same groups that are burdened after every decision. They face the brunt of it over and over. If we can mix it up so they don’t face the burden every time, then we can spread equity over the district. I want every student to be career and college ready. I want them to be able to contribute to society. We know that education makes society better and brings a higher quality of life.