CASTELLON: Running for a sound, basic education

An educator reads to a class of young students in this file photo. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer)

I am Ruben Castellon, and I am a current educator at a local community college. This November, I’m running for Board of Education because, for years, our students have been academically neglected, and parents have been sidelined. As a school board member, my mission will be to ensure that all students receive a sound, basic education. This includes making sure they have access to reliable transportation, qualified teachers who are trained and paid competitively, a SAFE learning environment, and someone to be a voice for parents. Schools should be run as a business with the employers in mind, Stakeholders.

Title 20 United State Code Section 3401 states that education is fundamental to the development of individual citizens and the progress of this nation. Parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children, and the states and localities, such as public schools, are responsible for supporting that parental role.

Since the onset of COVID, Hoke County School District has continued to lose qualified teachers to other counties and states for more pay. Currently, our teachers are overworked and underpaid. I will establish better communication with county commissioners to garnish support to provide a needed pay raise for our teachers, including our part-time teachers. Presently, Hoke County does not offer comparable pay to our surrounding areas, and we are thereby not able to retain nor recruit quality educators. To address this, we must also be better stewards and fiscally responsible with our existing funds to prioritize funding for better teacher pay. The path to a sound, basic education means ensuring that we have a solid recruitment process to attract (and keep) qualified teachers, provide reliable transportation (which includes better pay for our bus drivers), and have an adequate school district infrastructure.

I am for creating a new high school on the Eastern side of the county, not merely adding to the current high school. This decision failed to take into consideration the views and opinions of the stakeholders. Adding onto Hoke high school to accommodate a larger student body is not responsible when there isn’t any control over the present count and our county is continuously growing. Presently, our high school is not equipped with the proper amount of School Resource Officers to ensure student safety either. Smaller high schools are safer because they are easier to manage and control. I have proposed the idea to pathway schools, where one high school can specialize in STEM while the other can specialize in CTE. Another proposed suggestion to me by a parent (this is what happens when you include the community in the planning process; you get different ideas) is to have one high school designated for 9th and 10th, while the second could be for 11th and 12th. This idea would eliminate the fear of two separate high schools in our county marginalizing groups (have’s and have not’s), it would address the need for smaller classroom sizes, and maintain a student body population that is easy to monitor and control safely.

According to the North Carolina Constitution, all citizens are entitled and have the privilege to public school, and now thanks to the Leandro case, we know that all North Carolinians also “deserve” a sound basic education. The path to a sound basic education means ensuring that we have a sound recruitment process to attract qualified teachers, reliable school district transportation, much-needed school district infrastructure, and INCLUDING the most important stakeholder in the education journey of our children, THE PARENTS.

Early voting begins on 20 October to 5 November. On 8 November, vote for me as I stand for Students First Parents Always!

Ruben Castellon is an educator at a local community college. He has a Master’s in Business Administration with a specialty in Criminal Justice Administration, as well as a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. For more information about his platform, please visit and follow him on Facebook.