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State of California June 8, 2010 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Henry Williams, Jr.

Candidate for
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This information is provided by the candidate

My Story

I never expected that I'd go into politics. However, I'm one of those people who believe in fixing what is broken instead of sitting around and complaining about it.

As a parent, I resigned from the corporate world and made a career move into education. As an educator, I am in a position to be part of a significant change. The State of California needs major change in its school system in order to shape the lives of our most precious resource - our children.

I understand just how important the school system is to the future of our state and nation and in the individual lives of our children.

My story begins in Hawaii. Native born and raised, I spent my youth body-surfing, spear diving, paddling canoe, painting and sculpting that did nothing to prepare me for the off-island shock I experienced when I joined the military. I can't say what, exactly, compelled me to join other than the opportunity to attend college for free. But in 1981, my transition from Hawaii to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas was initially jarring, to put it mildly. In the four years I served, Anwar Sadat, the then President of Egypt, was assassinated, a Russian MiG fighter jet shot down a 747 Korean commercial plane, and a US barracks in Beirut was leveled by a suicide bomber.

While in the military, I concurrently earned my A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts from Victor Valley College, A.S. Degree in Pneudraulic Systems Technology from the Community College of the Air Force, and a B.S. Degree in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University. I loved learning while developing a technical skill.

My years in the military taught me the importance of discipline and focus. It strengthened and honed me as an individual and further instilled a depth of patriotism for our great country.

After my honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1985, I took a position at United Airlines. In the late 1980s, I worked for United throughout the Hawaiian Islands and then to San Francisco. Moving to California was a culture shock similar to the one I'd experienced when arriving for basic training, but this time, I wasn't alone. My wife and children were with me.

While we quickly adapted and fell in love with California, the public schools we investigated in San Francisco left my wife and I unsettled. We wanted a solid education that allowed room for our values. We decided to put our children into private school. However, this meant my wife had to work part time at the school to help with tuition and I worked overtime at my job. Finally in 1990, we decided to homeschool our children. It wasn't an easy decision, but it became our only decision with the limited options available. We appreciated the freedom to purchase curricular and instructional textbooks and materials (available from a wide-range of publishers) that met California State Content Standards. Most importantly, the individual academic needs and different learning modalities of our children were fulfilled. Their interests, incentives, curiosities, inquiries, etc., emerged at different developmental stages. They took all of the state tests at their specific grade levels. Two of our children passed the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE); one of our children graduated from a private school. What would public schools be like if students had similar opportunities with least restrictive environments to excel at their own developmental pace?

Two years later, a teen we knew in Hawaii called us distressed about his grades and his life direction. He joined our family in San Francisco. Our family rallied around him, committing to his life issues and rigorous schooling needs. After 10 arduous months of pouring over books in all subjects, we honed in on developing his reading and writing skills to prepare him for the CHSPE. We knew that if he could focus on the two 20-minute essay sections, he had a good chance of passing this exam and fall in the 50 percentile of academic standing among California High School students. He passed. It was a moment of euphoria for all of us. His CHSPE Proficiency Certificate was the equivalent of a High School Diploma.

Teaching and helping this teen was a turning point for me. The transformation I witnessed in his life convinced me that incentive, mentoring and relationship powerfully impacts student academic achievement. We raised four children and provided a solid education for them, but so many other young people didn't have that kind of support. For 16 years we took in and helped many teens and their families in the Bay Area. Our relationships and 12 years of homeschooling ignited a passion in me - to see schools have a strong foundation in values with community support systems that pay attention to children in need of mentoring and relationships.

In May 2005, I completed my Ed.M Degree in Education with the University of Phoenix in San Francisco. I did my six-month teacher's practicum at a high school in the Bay Area, and earned my Teacher Credential with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing in the Social Sciences (World History, California History, U.S. History and Economics) in 2005. The credentialing process included student-teaching at a private academy, elementary school, high school special education, and a youth resource center for juvenile teens transitioning back into mainstream classrooms. I started my Ed.D program in Instructional Leadership with Argosy University in the Bay Area---also in May, 2005. Currently I am writing my doctoral dissertation, titled: Ke `Apu'e'pu'e (The Synergy of Struggle): The Encounters of Native Hawaiian Youth with Hawaiian Sovereignty and Their Experiences in Education. After years of research on this topic, I have a deeper understanding of the underlying issues that contribute to high dropout rates among all students.

After moving to northern California and resigning from United Airlines, I immediately made a career change into the education profession. It was as if I'd finally fit into my life purpose.

I taught for a year as an online history teacher with the University of California College Prep. Online (UCCP: Santa Cruz). I passed the School Leadership Series (SLS): School Leadership Licensure Assessment (SLLA) exam at Chico State. The grueling six-hour exam on evaluation, synthesis, and analysis on a wide range of issues gave me a glimpse into the levels of complexity that school administrators encounter. I also taught history for Simpson University for two years. In addition, I've been teaching Cutural Diversity for over a year with an online college.

I remember reading an eye-opening study from U.C. Berkeley researchers titled: Return on Investment: Educational Choices and Demographic Change in California's Future. The study details compelling statistics related to the social fallout in California if college options are either diminished or ignored. According to this study, college graduates will, in 10 years, significantly contribute to the bottom-line of California's economy - in the billions of dollars. That is, if they are given the opportunity to attend college.

By analyzing what was happening in California, I was stunned by how many of our youth still fall through the system and become dropout statistics. Uneducated children are more inclined to be poor and to contribute to crime.

Today, my wife and I have been married for 30 years. She and two of our children work in the field of education. Our oldest son is in law enforcement. Our youngest child attends a public school. As a family, we enjoy going to the lakes in the summer and to the snow at Mount Shasta in the winter. Our experiences with current pedagogies, learning modalities, developmental psychology, school site council, school board meetings, learning and teaching online, home schooling and more, have given me a unique feel and peripheral view of the challenges facing educators.

After 20 years of examining the issues in California schools, augmented by my educational and life experiences, I am compelled, in such a time as this, to enter into the fray of politics to contend for all of our children in this state I have grown to love. Hope was not coming from our leaders. I decided to do what I've always done - to be a part of the solution.

Over the years, I've discovered that we change lives for the better by giving specific attention to one individual and by addressing the larger issues that hinder widespread development.

In traditional and online classrooms, I work to educate individuals to shape their lives for the better. In the process, one life and then another life grows to shape a community, a state, a nation, and ultimately the world.

In public office, I will work for students that struggle or excel; for parents anticipating the best for their children; for teachers whose passions equate to optimal outcomes; for administrators seeking to streamline processes; for classified personnel that augment school function and for all stakeholders focused on educational excellence. I will work to provide ways of restoring our education system and preventing obstacles that distract from the basics in learning. I will work to release the hidden potential in people and to remove barriers so the surge of ideas can rise to new heights. In 2010, I will run for office. It's not a political agenda I've worked toward - it's a response to a need that I cannot ignore any longer.

I do it for my children and grandchildren. I do it for the children of California. I also do it for the future of us all.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 6, 2010 12:03
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