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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
School

Del Mar Union School DistrictCandidate for Board Member

Photo of Gee Wah Mok

Gee Wah Mok

Parent/Attorney
6,024 votes (28.2%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Maintain the high quality of education
  • Make fiscally responsible decisions to ensure a balanced budget
  • Create an atmosphere of open communication and dialogue between the school board and community

Experience

Education

Cornell University Law School Juris Doctor (J.D.), Law (2005)
University of California, Berkeley Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Political Science (Major); Business Administration (Minor) (2000)

Biography

I was born and raised in San Diego’s East County to immigrants from Hong Kong.   My mother was a city librarian and she filled our home with a treasure trove of books.  While our financial resources were limited, my parents promised to provide whatever I needed for my education.  They knew a quality education opened the doors to allow one to succeed in life.  I believe every child in the Del Mar Union School District should have the same opportunities for success.

I attended U.C. Berkeley and Cornell Law School and returned to San Diego to practice law.  Like many of you, my wife and I settled in Carmel Valley to raise our now four-year-old child in the finest school district in the county.  With another child due in December, we are heavily invested in the success of this district for our children and our community for years to come. 

Questions & Answers

Questions from The League of Women Voters North County San Diego (4)

What are the pressing problems of this school district, in your opinion, and what experience do you bring to the Board that will help address these problems?
Answer from Gee Wah Mok:

The biggest issue facing the district is meeting the critical needs of its aging and overcrowded facilities while maintaining the stellar quality of instruction for which the district is well-known.

This is why I am helping co-chair the campaign for Yes on Measure MM.  I am already actively supporting our school district and our community’s children and I will continue to do the same as a board trustee.  I am working tirelessly with civic groups, elected officials and community leaders – engaging the community’s support in order to secure the necessary funding to address repairs and construct new schools.  This will allow us to maintain small class sizes and retain our outstanding teachers.  I am also an outspoken supporter that each community should have a neighborhood school which is a dynamic center of community life.

If elected, I will continue to bring the same energy, open communication and engagement to my role on the school board.  I intend to be a visible presence in our schools and the community, collaborating with parents, teachers, community members and students in order to make educated decisions that reflect the community’s values and put children first.  I believe in making fiscally responsible decisions that are transparent so that we ensure our hard-earned tax dollars are spent wisely and responsibly to benefit all of our children.

As a father, my priority is ensuring the academic and emotional well-being of our children in a safe and supportive learning environment.  The long-term health of our school district benefits the entire community, and I pledge to put my abilities and energy in service of this community and its children.

What is your view of charter schools?
Answer from Gee Wah Mok:

In DMUSD, all our schools are excellent, the option of a charter school would likely be more for the flexibility in hiring certain teachers or implementing a unique curriculum which I believe can be a part of the discussion.  But we all should be aware of the potential concerns regarding oversight and loss of focus on our traditional public schools.

While charter schools may provide its administration the flexibility to be innovative with its curriculum and hiring practices, providing more choices does not necessarily mean they are always good choices.  I would have concerns with oversight and financial accountability of charter schools, particularly for-profit charters which have become notorious in their corruption.  Research has also shown that students at charters do not academically outperform their peers at public schools.

In general, I believe the focus should be on improving the public schools we already have and making sure each student is well-prepared to succeed.

Should the district curb its school choice initiatives (for students who are not in charter schools), so that more students stay in their neighborhood schools? Why or why not?
Answer from Gee Wah Mok:

DMUSD allows for intradistict and interdistrict transfers depending on available space and the existence of special circumstances.  I believe the current policy is appropriate as it allows the district administration the flexibility to determine whether special circumstances necessitate a student transfer.

I am committed to the success of every child.  I believe we need solutions that are in the best interests of all students, rather than policies that specifically target the few, particularly if they are at the expense of others.  While I understand there will be situations which call for a student to need a transfer, I know all schools in DMUSD are exceptional and I am committed to supporting our neighborhood schools and their surrounding communities.  We set the bar high in DMUSD and every school should be properly supported to maintain a quality education with appropriate funding and resources.

Are there school discipline strategies or behavioral support programs that you find appealing alternatives to exclusionary or punitive discipline? If so, which ones, and why?
Answer from Gee Wah Mok:

I believe the focus should be on preventative measures such as anti-bullying programs and social-emotional learning, so that a supportive and nurturing learning environment exists.  Students should be given the tools to excel inside and outside of the classroom to build positive relationships and learn to work through challenges.  If students have repeated disciplinary issues, which is exceeding rare in DMUSD, teachers and staff should seek out the root source of the issue to be addressed.  Teachers and administrators should involve the student’s influences such as family and friends and work with them to help resolve the students issues rather than resort to punitive discipline.

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