PWCS School Board Chairman Candidate Babur Lateef Wants Less Drama, More Student Success

| October 12, 2018 | 0 Comments | News

Candidate for Prince William School Board Chairman, Dr. Lateef Babur.

Dr. Babur Lateef does not expect to be mentioned often in the local media. He is not courting drama, and maybe that is hurting his name recognition, he joked.

Lateef is running to be Chairman At-Large of the 2nd largest school district in Virginia, but maybe you’ve never heard of him. That makes sense since the board got significantly less controversial since he joined as interim chair in April. He considers that an accomplishment.

When former Prince William County Schools Chairman Ryan Sawyers stepped down, many felt they had enough of the politics. They wanted the school board to stop bickering, focus on the children and get things done.

Lateef feels he has succeeded in getting the board back on track, and going forward, the board can begin to address the divisions’ most pressing issues: closing the achievement gap, safety improvement, competitive pay for educators, and smaller class sizes.

Lateef, is a local Ophthalmologist working out of Woodbridge and Manassas. He has children in the school division so he has many of the same concerns as other parents in the county. He serves as a fellow on the University of Virginia Visitors Board and member of SPARK with PWCS, where he gained experience he believes to be invaluable.

Lateef feels he has already altered the climate on the board for the better by being inclusive and granting fair access to the agenda.

He also tries to foster collaboration, manage conflict and facilitate school board members really listening to each and working cooperatively towards shared goals.

“Stay out of the courtroom; focus on the classroom,” he said. “I try to resolve controversial issues before they become controversial in the public domain.”

However, he said he would not step away from important issues either.

To achieve his number one goal, closing the achievement gap, Lateef said you have to do a number of other things.

He wants Prince William educators to make a competitive salary to attract and retain employees. He believes the school division needs to provide steps and COLA in a given year. Already both raises are included in the Superintendent’s FY19 Budget. Additionally, the division need to hire more teachers to reduce class sizes.

He wants to bring infrastructure up to date by building more schools, update older schools, prioritizing Gar-field, Woodbridge Sr., Stonewall Jackson and Brentsville District high schools, while continuing to build quality new schools or additions.

And he wants to explore various ways to make classrooms and schools safer.

That will all take big money, so he believes the board needs to be adamant in requesting the funds it needs both from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and from the state.

He said he has close relationships in Richmond, especially with former Prince William teacher, Atif Qarni, now Virginia Secretary of Education.

Lateef talks of a “culture of learning” rather than a “culture of testing.” That means trusting teachers and preparing students for the careers of the future through hands-on, real-world application.

He dislikes the influence that big testing companies and politicians wield.

He is dedicated to LGBTQ addition to the nondiscrimination policy. As a doctor, he always let partners see their loved ones in the hospital.

“The patient’s face lit up,” said Lateef. He noted that the Hippocratic Oath, which says “do no harm.”

And he believes he is holding the administration to task on issues of concern, such as harassment of employees.

He voted that the ombudsman  answer directly to the school board and not the administration. He wants to hire more Equal Employment Opportunity Commission positions to address employee harassment, discrimination and hostile work environment issues. Fairfax has 12. Prince William has one.

“Judge me by my actions,” he tells people. “I’ve already done more than anyone else [on the board or previous boards] has done for transparency and accountability.”

Lateef said he listened to teachers last spring. He now has the board reviewing policies that may not be working as intended, such as climate surveys and procedure for reporting one’s supervisor.

And he said his will be holding the superintendent to the same criteria for contract renewal, but now his raises will commiserate with what employees are receiving.

“That’s a motivator for him,” he said, not only to succeed for the division, but to provide his educators with decent raises.

He also has an eye towards equity. He would like to figure out what is working for some special groups students and make it available to all students. He asks why narrative portfolios work for gifted students, while most students are graded from A-F.

He believes it is the way to increase opportunities for everyone because we are “raising adults” and we want all students to be successful.

Most of all, he said as a parent he feels the same anxieties about education in these times that all parents do. He wants parents to be involved and help create a parent-driven, not political-driven school division.

Dr. Lateef is running against Gainesville School Board Representative Alyson Satterwhite and retired naval officer Stanley Bender.

Residents can follow Dr. Babur Lateef’s campaign on Facebook.

Bristow Beat ran a similar article for Ms. Satterwhite on Sept. 20.

Read about the first two candidate forums covered by Bristow Beat.

This is not a sponsored article. 

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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