By Erika Webb
For Hometown News
Charles King is one of four candidates vying for the Volusia School Board, District 4 seat.
He has taught geometry and science in Daytona Beach and Deltona since retiring from his job as a senior executive in the telecommunications field six years ago.
Mr. King said he was baffled by his company's struggle to find qualified applicants to fill entry-level career positions. He said he couldn't understand why young adults kept failing the company's eighth-grade level reading, writing and math tests.
But he was determined to find out.
He moved to Florida, went back to school to get his teaching certificate and began teaching geometry.
"Of course, I'm a lousy golfer, so there was no sense in doing that," he said.
Currently a science teacher at Deltona High, Mr. King, 66, said he has spent many hours in the classroom and has attended many school board meetings.
He called current board members "great people" but said they're not actively promoting change.
"They are not contesting things the state is promulgating," he said.
Things like the District Cost Differential, or DCD, a formula used to allocate state funds to counties for education.
"Volusia County is getting 96.4 percent of tax dollars back. Others are getting more," Mr. King said.
Collier County received 104 percent in 2011-2012, according to the Florida Department of Education's website.
"As I've been campaigning and talking to local officials about what they've seen, I've found that no one's organizing local officials to approach Tallahassee for change," Mr. King said. "Volusia loses $8 million a year. If you want to stop it, you've got to find a solution."
Though he feels Florida has created "a great virtual school," Mr. King said teachers should be allowed complete access to all materials used there in order to supplement online lessons in the classroom.
He said many students think virtual school will be easier, but don't pass because they need much more attention and support than the online environment provides.
Then there are the charter schools, independent public schools given freedom to be more innovative, while being held accountable for improved student achievement.
Mr. King is not sold on them.
"I don't think they all perform well, and they dilute the concentration of state funds." Mr. King said. "Unless a charter school is doing something different than traditional school, they shouldn't have a charter."
He said charter schools have veered from the original intent. He said a charter school offering a foreign-language based education would be "fine" in his book because "traditional schools can't do that."
"Many are simply replicating what's going on in the traditional classroom," Mr. King said. "Many are succeeding in failing at just about the same levels as regular schools."
While acknowledging today's parents are very busy, Mr. King said when kids who are capable are not doing well in class, parents should be held responsible.
"They're tired. Many are working two jobs, but they must establish a priority for their kids to be successful," Mr. King said. "And it must begin early. By the time they get to me in 11th or 12th grade, the die is cast."
Currently, he said, too much culpability is placed on teachers and administrators, without the accompanying authority necessary for them to effectively ensure positive educational outcomes.
"Responsibility is very downward-directed," Mr. King said. "Teachers and principals are disenfranchised from decision-making. We need to incorporate the ideas of teachers and administrators. They're the idea people."
Offering voters "the total package," Mr. King said he will "bring business sense to bureaucracy, the best education for students for the least amount of money."
Mr. King has been married for 42 years and has three children and six grandchildren. He is a U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Vietnam War. He has a bachelor's degree from the New York Institute of Technology and his teaching certification from Daytona State College.
"I'm an agent of change," Mr. King said. "If we keep doing the same things over and over, we'll keep getting the same results. I'm very passionate about this."