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EU grad running against board veteran
Ashley Drain

Ashley Drain has worked with youth since her days at East Union High School. But her “passion for teen-agers kicked in” when she was in college.

Now self-employed after years of working for a number of group homes and non-profit organizations, the wife and mother of three young children is throwing her hat in the political arena for the first time. She is running for Manteca Unified School District’s Area 2 currently being represented by Manuel Medeiros, a farmer who has been a veteran on the school board with four terms – 16 years – under his belt. He is seeking re-election for another four years.

Drain is one of two political newcomers who are challenging two school board incumbents in the November elections. The other is Alexander Bronson who is seeking to unseat Don Scholl of Area 6, the two-time president of the school board who is looking for another four years of service.

Drain is proud to say she is a graduate of the “best high school on the planet – East Union” – where she met her husband, Justin. They are now the proud parents of Ahnessa, 5; Josiah, 3; and her one-year-old “wild child,” Ahmaya.

“I owe so many teachers and staff at EU my life,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

For one thing, it was AVID which got her accepted into 18 colleges after graduating from East Union. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college-readiness program whose aim is to increase the number of students who enroll and complete a college 

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in and complete a degree at a four-year college. Three months after her high school graduation, Drain was on her way to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where she received her bachelor’s degree.

Years after her stint working at group homes and for non-profits, she discovered that “I work better when I work for myself,” and that’s exactly what she did four years ago.

“My husband and I, along with his family, started Drain Athletics Inc., a non-profit dedicated to fighting the childhood-obesity epidemic through mentorship and even entrepreneurship. We have teamed up with Give Every Child a Chance’s after-school program at Weston Ranch High School and work with many of the children in the community,” Drain explained.

Additionally, the young wife and mother runs a Woman’s Empowerment Program out of her home, and is the co-founder of Tasty Carty and TheOneWeekProject.

“TastyCarty is the first real-time food truck locator website and soon to be app in the nation,” she explained.

TheOneWeekProject is a web design, social media management business, as well as an “app creation branding agency.” Her clients include small businesses, non-profits, “celebrities, artists, and we even have a few Fortune 500 CEOs and CDOs on our check list,” she proudly stated.

She added, “My overweight self is also the founder of Obesity Intervention, a new non-profit organization with a twist on obesity affecting women.”

Her office is located at the Huddle in downtown Stockton.

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She’s not completely in favor  of Measure G

Drain is not completely in favor of Measure G, the $159 million school bond aimed at repairing the school districts’ aging classrooms as well as building new structures on properties already owned by the district.

“It just needs a bit of tweaking,” she stated in her response to the two questions below, the same ones that have been sent to the Nov. 4 school board candidates.

As to her main reason for seeking an elected seat on the board, she said, “I can guarantee whether I make it on the board or not, any student that crosses my path will have a completely different outlook on feeling good about their education. Best part about it – I am, have, and will always gladly do it for free. I can only imagine what Manteca Unified students will look like by the time I get through with them, once I make it on that board.”

Drain’s answers to the two questions below:

QUESTION #1 – Are you in favor, or against, Measure G, the $159 million school bond? What, in your opinion, will the bond do to improve MUSD and students’ education? If you’re against the school bond, what do you think is a better alternative, or are better alternatives to accomplish what Measure G intends to accomplish?

DRAIN – This is where it gets sticky for me. I absolutely love the fact that the schools are undergoing wonderful and exciting upgrades. It is always great for students to learn in safe environments. I believe that’s what 55 percent of the voters were looking at when they voted for (Measure M in 2004).

Technology is my life and I believe that children in today’s world cannot be adequately taught without it, and even teachers, the ability to teach without it. Just ask how many teachers “Google” things. The need for schools to not only keep up with the tech culture, but also advance it, is so important for the development of our students. We have a ton of power with these kids when we teach them in the ways they love most. So any time a school advances their technology to keep up with the minimal requirements is a step in the right direction.

However, when we are talking about $159 million and our staff, administration, and teachers don’t get to see a dime of it –now I question the integrity of the people that came up with it. Teachers, at the very least, deserve a  good chunk of that money. How about a bonus? I am sure that I am probably politically shooting myself in the foot with this in some kind of way, too. 

Nevertheless, we have got to stop beating around the bush when it comes to how our teachers are being treated. I completely understand the need for safety on every campus in our district, but what good is a pretty and safe campus with ugly paychecks to the people that run and keep that campus safe and students that don’t even respect it? Again, I love what Measure G is doing, it just needs a bit of tweaking. How about a bonus? Especially in Manteca Unified School District. Like I said, I owe every bit of woman I am today to the teachers that weren’t getting paid to do all that they did for me. You couldn’t pay me to do what they do and deal with on a daily basis. My sister-in-law, Maria Drain, used to be a teacher that worked for MUSD, and she is literally the best elementary school teacher MUSD lost! (Check her resume.) I hear stories about what is required of a teacher, and when you put them next to their pay – it just doesn’t add up!  What are we teaching our students? To look good, but never pay back those who are responsible for us looking good? Yeah, that’s going to build great character and morale in our students, and I mean that sarcastically.

QUESTION #2: What, in your opinion, are the most important issues facing MUSD and education in general?

DRAIN: I absolutely hate focusing on issues. I believe that focusing on the issues only fuels them and brings a whole lot more of them. I am more of a positive progress-type of gal. We know what we don’t like, therefore we can focus on what we do like – do way more of it and see positive results from there.

What I want to see more of is the emotional development in the schools. If you have happy students, you have students who are wide open and ready to learn whatever you throw at them at whatever levels you give them. This allows us to raise our education standards a bit. I know this works because I listen to my students and instruct them on how to achieve what they want. I have physical proof of this anytime anyone is willing to hear it. A once all ‘F’ student of mine now has only one ‘B’ as her lowest grade.

I think getting constant feedback and actually building relationships with students needs to happen. We can’t keep focusing on issues and expecting innovative progress. We’ve got to bend the rules a bit. Stop creating strict punishments that take children out of the game before they even start. We have to start getting these ridiculous teachers that have no business teaching out of their seats. We have to start challenging our students in ways that encourage, empower and uplift them – not scold, break and dull them.

We have to get active as board members in these schools. Students should be able to spot us out of a crowd – not just see us as snobby old people – that’s what I used to think of Boards. We have to listen to these kids when they actually show up to meetings and show them how much power they really have. We are not doing our job when students hate learning. They should love it – and the fact that they don’t is a reflection of emotionally dead students when it comes to their education. Yes, we have some that love school, but if you look at the students that don’t versus (those who) do, you will see a difference in their emotional development.