CUSD Board of Education special election candidate profiles: Joshua Rogers
by Andrew Alonzo | email@example.com
Earlier this year, Joshua Rogers began circulating a petition to compel Claremont Unified School District’s Board of Education to hold a special election to fill its Trustee Area 4 seat. That petition was successful, and ended the term of Hilary LaConte, whom the board appointed to the seat in January following the resignation of its former President Steven Llanusa.
The special election is set for Tuesday, July 25.
After opening that can of worms, Rogers, 52, felt it was only right to toss his hat into the ring.
“I felt like since I had done that, it would sort of be logical to also run for the seat,” he said. “It seemed to me from my experience going to school board meetings and just sort of observing the situation … with the gentleman who vacated the seat that the board is somewhat insular. And being not part of that inside, I thought that might be useful to have a breath of fresh air, a second pair of eyes.”
Rogers, a small business owner, graduated from Amherst College in 1993 and earned a master’s degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2000. His motivation to run for office has come from his two children, Max and Remy Rogers, who attend Chaparral Elementary School, from his own perception that he would do a good job, and from a desire to bring fresh blood to the CUSD Board of Education.
If elected, he’d advocate to form a larger district that would encompass students from neighboring cities in order to address declining enrollment in Claremont schools.
“Structurally, it’s an industry downsizing question: what happens when you have to downsize?” Rogers asked. “There’s just less demand. The main issue as I see it is that … student population is declining. It’s been declining for a decade and it’s going to continue to decline, and that means there needs to be some huge changes. A very unpopular thing but probably the right thing to do is to somehow combine the [neighboring] school districts.”
Neighboring Upland and Bonita school districts do not have to allow their students to enroll at CUSD, Rogers said.
“They have the same problems that we do; they want to keep their student numbers up,” he said. “They’re not going to be able to stand that forever. And so we really need to explore other options.
“This administration can handle a school district five times its size. Eventually it’ll be like some sort of ‘Inland Empire unified.’ The key thing there is to make sure that we can maintain the quality during that consolidation phase.”
Among Rogers’ other priorities would be improving the “disgusting” food in CUSD schools, and addressing racism.
“Ideally, I’d like to see a cafeteria where you have some burners and a pot of soup on and some chicken being cooked,” he said. “That shouldn’t be out of the realm of the possible: freshly prepared hot food — like it was when I was a boy.”
On racism, he said: “I want to take specific steps to make sure that we can address it to the fullest extent possible.”
Rogers referenced his past work as a business consultant with McKinsey and Company as a reason he’s a unique candidate.
“That’s my background. That’s what I did for most of my career,” he said. “So when I look at the school system, that’s the kind of lens that I would use and that’s the approach I would take and look at it. You do your analysis, you do your research, you collect your data, and you come up with the conclusions.”
He also mentioned his success as a small business owner as a reason he’s qualified, and, unprompted, the other two candidates.
“I definitely have more time than Alex McDonald appears to have,” Rogers said. “He works full-time and then has like 17 apparently volunteer positions. I think I have more applicable experience than the other candidates, both in life and in business,” he added. “Aaron [Peterson], who’s a good guy, he’s an engineer so he works on engineering problems, which are very specific and very kind of narrow and deeper in scope rather than like being able to see the whole picture.”
Increasingly, school boards around the country are being confronted by groups seeking to limit student access to books featuring LGBTQ+ themes, Black history, race, gender, among other topics. Asked to comment, Rogers was unequivocal. “My view on banning books is that you don’t ban any books,” he said. “I think the fear of grooming and the fear of teaching our kids that white people are bad and instilling [in them] white people are evil races, I think those fears are silly. I think they’re overblown and misguided.
“There’s age-appropriate stuff and at every level you have to make that judgement call. But there’s nothing specific about different lifestyles, different sexual preferences, genders, that should be either allowed or disallowed [literature] to schoolchildren, it should just be based on what’s appropriate for their age level and what they can understand.”
Rogers said he doesn’t believe calls for book bans will make their way to the CUSD Board of Education, but should it happen, “I think it’s going to be a real pain though to deal with. It’s hard to image that’ll happen in Claremont, but at least it would be more interesting than the meetings that currently happen in Claremont. It’s good to have people engaged.”
More information is at joshuarogers.vote.
This concludes the Courier’s coverage of the three candidates vying to represent Trustee Area 4 on CUSD’s Board of Education in the July 25 special election.