Richard M. Natelson

Salmon School District
Zone 2
Email Address:

Candidate Responses

What do you believe is the fundamental role of education?
The fundamental role of education is to teach "the basics:" Mathematics, English and History. History should naturally include the US constitution. It should also encourage students to think for themselves and to give them the tools to help them make their own decisions. It should also help to prepare them for the "real world".
How would you promote rigorous academic instruction and excellence in your school district?
Good teachers are essential. They make learning fun. Parents also need to be involved. They should be encouraged to participate in school activities and to attend School Board meetings. Remember that the teacher only has the student for a limited amount of time. They are expected to teach, not babysit.
How do you define Critical Race Theory? When implemented in school policies and curriculum, do you think Critical Race Theory differs from simply “teaching history?”
Critical Race Theory was developed to brain wash our youth. You cannot judge an 18th Century person using a 21st century eye. If one were to do this, everybody would be considered a racist regardless of their race. Critical Race Theory is not history. What CRT is attempting to do is to blame other people for why one cannot succeed. There will always be roadblocks in one’s journey through life. Educators need to teach us how to overcome these obstacles and not blame others for our failures.
How do you define Social Emotional Learning (SEL)? Would you encourage the implementation of any SEL model in your school district? If so, which model and why?
SEL is a relatively new term for principles that have been around for a long time. Students should feel safe in the classroom knowing that they can discuss issues with their teachers not only during class time but afterwards. Teachers need to educate our students about respecting other students’ opinions. It is okay to agree to disagree. This also relates back to what educators should be teaching: How to make responsible decisions and to make appropriate decisions regardless of peer pressure.
How would you respond to the Idaho State Board and Department of Education’s recent dissemination of resources such as the SEL Roadmap for Reopening Schools, which argues that schools should adopt anti-racist practices, focus on social justice, and conduct staff-wide implicit bias trainings? Should teachers be required to attend these kinds of trainings?
I believe that the “SEL Roadmap for Reopening Schools" is fraught with psychobabble and is an attempt to push ideas that further divide Americans into different groups. Catch words such as "biased training," "social justice" and "antiracist practice" cause division, not unity. No, teachers should not be required to attend this kind of training nor should tax dollars be used to pay for these training sessions.
Should your school district be required to teach a sex education curriculum? If so, should this curriculum include instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity? Should parents and guardians be required to provide consent before their children participate in any sex education curriculum?
It depends upon what is taught. Basic male and female reproduction could be taught however without bias as to what is acceptable and what is not. This should be left to the parents. In order to avoid conflicts, parental consent should be obtained.
How should school districts respond to the Idaho School Boards Association’s recommendation that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify?
Being in the sciences and having had training in genetics, a human is either XX or XY. There are some very rare exceptions but these individuals still develop as either male or female. School aged children go through a great deal of mental development and occasionally, sexual experimentation. Recently, it has become "fashionable" to be a transsexual. This may occur because of deep-seated psychiatric issues or simply, to be different. The school system has to go with the wishes of the majority of students and the parents. I feel that allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify would be psychologically very damaging to the vast majority of students.
Do you support mask mandates in schools as a COVID-19 mitigation strategy? Do you support implementation of any other policies or practices designed to mitigate the effects of COVID-19?
If one wishes to wear a mask it should be permitted, not mandated. If a child wants to wear a mask the student should not be bullied by others. Cloth masks are not very effective in controlling spread of the virus. What would be much more useful, would be teaching better hygiene and social distancing. Also, if a child is sick, the parents should not be bringing the child to school. If the child does appear, he/she needs to be isolated immediately and returned home. Parents need to know that the school is not a babysitting service. School aged children are very low risk from severe disease. If however, a person is at higher risk (either due to a medical condition or age) then that person should probably be vaccinated. The newest studies presently show that people who have had the disease had better immunity than those who have been vaccinated.