The fifth installment of our series of interviews with school director candidates across the state brings us to the Central Bucks School District.
Dr. Stephen Mass is running for school director in the Central Bucks School District, region 1, located in Bucks county. He is a registered republican and a physician.
Why are you running for school board?
“I started to really watch what was going on in our school district during the pandemic. It became fairly obvious early on that the lockdowns were harming our children. Academically, socially, and emotionally, the lockdowns were catastrophic, and it is no exaggeration to say that an entire generation was devastated. It became clear to me that certain members of the school board were willing to ignore the devastation because they had chosen a side, and they weren’t willing to change their position as new facts became available. They were using kids as political pawns.
“The results were predictable: plummeting test scores, diminished attention spans, and a mental health crisis like we have never seen. Rather than do the hard work of reversing the learning loss, some have chosen a needless culture war. For me, the final straw was when I learned that a small group in our district, led by my opponent in this race, was staging a guerrilla war by using deception and false accusations against our teachers. These accusations asserted that our teachers and administrators were somehow complicit in bullying vulnerable children. This group started a divisive, wasteful culture war that diverts attention from issues that need to be addressed for all children. That is why I decided to run — to bring the focus back to education, not the playground antics my opponent has chosen to play.”
What are the most important issues facing your district?
“The primary role of our schools is education. That should be obvious, but we’ve lost track of our priorities. My first priority is choosing and perhaps even designing a curriculum that reverses the learning loss and helps our kids get ready for their entry into the real world. With the community and teachers we have here, Central Bucks should be the best school district in the state. However, we don’t have endless resources, so we have to get there in a cost-effective fashion. The first step is to end the bickering so we can get to work finding solutions.”
What is your professional background/experience? What skills would you bring to the board?
“I am a father of three who all went through Central Bucks from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I was a literature major at Vanderbilt University before going to Duke for medical school and Northwestern for residency training. I, therefore, have a strong appreciation for both the liberal arts and sciences.
“I have also coached multiple seasons of youth sports, which has taught me to appreciate how all kids learn differently. We cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach to education. As a physician, you have to listen, look at the data, and make a diagnosis. There’s no role for your personal politics and feelings. You have to be impartial. Finally, you have to propose a plan. If elected, I would take this approach to the school board.”
Have you run for political office previously? Have you been politically active?
“I have never run for office before, nor have I attended a significant number of political events.”
Are you running with other candidates?
“I am running individually but have teamed up with four other candidates to promote our shared values. The other candidates are Aarathi Martino, Dana Hunter, Tony Arjona, and Glen Schloeffel. We are running under the group Central Bucks Forward. They’re a great, diverse set of candidates I am proud to call friends.”
What is the most important role of the school board, in your opinion?
“The most important role of the school board is to reflect the values of the parents and taxpayers in a cost-effective manner. Since beginning the campaign, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that parents in Central Bucks are much more united on what these values are than the media would have us believe. First and foremost, we want great educational opportunities, whether that be in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) field, the liberal arts, or vocational training. We want a variety of afterschool activities and athletics. We want our kids to have great memories of their time in Central Bucks after they graduate and to be ready for what comes next. The role of the school board is to make this wish list a reality, while at the same time respecting the taxpayers’ dollars.”
We contacted the Democratic and Republican committees in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Montgomery counties and asked them to share the questions with their school director candidates. Broad + Liberty will post the responses throughout the summer to assist voters in learning about the candidates running in their district. The series is open to any school director on the ballot in November. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty