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USD 501 Topeka District 3 Position 3 BOE

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    Keith Tatum

Biographical Information

What is your experience with the school district? Parent? Patron? Alumni? Why do you want to serve this district at this time?

The incidence of youth suicide in Shawnee County has been very high for two decades and is climbing. How do you propose to help the public schools in your district play a role in reversing this trend?

What can your school district do to increase civic involvement of students? Where is civic involvement in your priority list for school activities?

What policies will you support to ensure that all students have access to tools and infrastructure necessary to benefit from distance learning opportunities?

If your personal beliefs are different than those of the district you are elected to represent, what values will you apply when deciding how to vote on issues before the Board?

Personal Biography Keith has worked in public service for over 20 years, leading in various agencies such as the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities, the Kansas Volunteer Commission, and the Kansas Department of Education. He currently serves as the Director of Training and Staff Development for the Kansas Neurological Institute. Additionally, Keith is an Adjunct Professor with the Family and Human Services Department at Washburn University. He and his wife Teresa have 10 kids total and one grandson.
Campaign Phone (785) 250-5927
Campaign Email
Education Keith holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Washburn University.
Community/Public Service Keith has served on the boards of the Topeka LULAC Senior Center, the Community Advocates for Social Enrichment, and the Managers of Volunteer Engagement. Keith was also the founding chairperson of the USD 501 Equity Council. He is a graduate of Leadership Greater Topeka 2013. Keith is a deacon-in-training at the Topeka First Free Methodist Church.
I'm running because I believe in the power of public education. As a father of children who go to USD 501 schools, I've seen this power at work in the lives of my kids. As a graduate of USD 501 schools myself, I have experienced this power firsthand. Now that I am a seasoned and accomplished professional, my drive is to use my skills and experience to help develop the district that helped to develop me. I plan to give back to my community by empowering the students of the Topeka School District through exemplary service on the USD 501 School Board.
Our schools are integral elements of our community. School and district leaders should work to foster collaborative relationships with mental health professionals, medical professionals, law enforcement, social services, and other community experts so that when teachers or others see a student experiencing a personal crisis, they know who to call upon for help. They also will know to whom to refer students, from the very beginnings of a mental health challenge. Keeping teachers and other school professionals informed and up to date on mental health de-escalation techniques can hopefully lower the prevalence of youth suicide in our local community.
Civic engagement is a high priority for me. I believe a lot of our political problems could be solved if only more people actually read the U.S. Constitution, knew about the three branches of government and the separation of powers, and were engaged enough to make informed decisions before they reached the ballot box. I am convinced public education can be a positive catalyst for this type of change, and not just through traditional civics classes. Incorporating elected officials as guest speakers, field trips to see legislation in action, promoting volunteering during elections, or writing officials about local issues of great interest are all examples of possible actions to be undertaken by students in a wide variety of K-12 courses.
In this current pandemic, I believe we need to be nimble enough academically to support students who may not have any choice but to do distance learning. Exploring polices that support student success in such non-traditional settings include setting up virtual classrooms with teachers dedicated for that role, proper computerized equipment, broadband Wi-Fi access, and any remedial services that may be necessary to sustain learning remotely. Moving forward, we'll need to remain open as a district to other ideas and policies that may be unorthodox, yet beneficial.
As an elected official, I will represent the constituents of my community. It will be my job to reflect the will of the electorate, and that means I will have to listen to the needs of students, parents, teachers, and neighbors. My focus will be on carrying out the will of the people, even if that means sometimes my constituency wants different outcomes from what I may want personally. I hope to always keep the lines of communication open between community members and me so that I always have a good sense of what is important to members of the district.