PSS welcomes back Guerrero


The Public School System is better off with the leadership of Board of Education member and current chair Herman Guerrero, according to Education Commissioner Dr. Rita Sablan.

In January, Guerrero will begin his 14th year as a board member. He ran uncontested for the spot representing Saipan.

“To me, he is a great listener. He listens to issues, whether good or bad. He looks at the system as a whole. He is mindful of the things we do on Saipan and the implications they have on Tinian and Rota,” Sablan said.

She described Guerrero as a “policy person” who envisions ahead.

“He understands where we come from in our administrative responsibilities. I like to think that his return will be an added value. He’s a thinker. He’s here for the children,” she added.

In an interview, Guerrero said he first became a board member just as his son was entering first grade.

“I made a commitment that as long as he was in the Public School System, I would run for the board. He graduated this year, but I decided that I’d like to run for another term again,” Guerrero said.

Praxis-certification became required for teachers in PSS, the No Child Left Behind Act was passed, and Common Core Standards have since been tested in public schools since Guerrero came on board.

“We invested over $3 million in providing training [and] refresher courses for people to pass both Praxis 1 and 2,” he said.

Often, because of their small sizes, Tinian and Rota high schools do not get as much courses offered as on Saipan, he said.

Distance learning is one way to address this, according to Guerrero, but it is a program that needs “fine-tuning.” He hopes the CNMI government can help with some of the connectivity problems schools face.

“That has been a concern,” Guerrero said.

He also hopes PSS will resolve all its audit findings.

“Over the years, we have had repeated audits. [We] are monitoring it to give us a better view of our audit findings from one year to the next,” he said.

Offices and agencies audited need to come up with ways to be more efficient in their duties and responsibilities, he said.

“In the past we have been cited for contracts that have expired and it took beyond the expiration date for the contract to be renewed,” he said.

Guerrero also looks to work with the Northern Marianas College in reducing the large amount of remediation classes the college has to hold in English and math.

He hopes to see “clear statistics” from NMC on which high schools these students come from so PSS can strengthen its curriculums to better prepare kids.

In the years to come, he said there is much to be done with PSS’ teacher-student ratio, technology, and the state of its school facilities.

“Sometimes I hear from the kids that teachers are going through the motions. I think it’s a question of how do schools monitor the teachers. Teachers, if they know in advance [that they will be observed], they might start preparing more, doing better lesser plans…but if you don’t tell them and you just show up, you can see whether students are engaged and if standards are written on the wall and the blackboard,” he said.

When asked what keeps him inspired during the harder days as a board member, he pointed to the students.

“These are the kids that I hope will be our future leaders and, if I’m still around, they can make my life a little bit easier…Sometimes they say private school kids are smarter but I don’t think so. Private schools may have an advantage in terms of teacher-student ratio, but we are competing nationally and regionally, and we are doing great,” he said.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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