I believe in the power of quality education. Children's lives can be positively changed, and families strengthened through unifying activities. The entire community can become stronger with an excellent neighborhood school. School pride, a sense of belonging, and a shared history keeps us all together and focused on our children.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
Quality schools, school safety, and daycare. To create quality schools, we need to attract and retain the best qualified teachers, support their ongoing training, and show appreciation. School safety is a community effort, and school leadership must be sure that everyone is informed about safety plans and ready to take appropriate actions. Schools can provide space for daycare providers, or seek ways to make sure it's affordable and accessible. District budgets are tight, but there are ways to get it done.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
The budget process starts with stated priorities and given mandates. Decision makers must be vigilant and ask the right questions when certain priorities are not being met. The last thing a school board trustee should be is a rubber stamp. In order to reflect the wishes of the community, I intend to get out and listen to the stakeholders. I also will be sure that accurate and non-biased information is readily available to everyone to make informed decisions.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
The approach to providing quality child care and preschool programs is done in the budget process and in forging strategic alliances with outside community groups and agencies. When I was a school principal, I always found ways to provide after school activities, especially for low income students and ELLs. I also provided English classes for the adults.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
I believe the special needs students should be included in all aspects of school life. Their classrooms must be a regular part of the campus, and students must be mainstreamed as much as possible. The positive outcomes happen because of quality staff, parents that feel involved, and students that love their school. A school board member can monitor this and ask questions, holding staff accountable if things go away.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
Current funding from the state and federal government often target this goal with extra money. A school board trustee should know how this money is allocated, what specific programs and activities are, and how effective is the approach. More than just reading a report, I would visit the programs periodically, and talk to the students and parents who benefit from designed plans. I would attend the celebrations that usually happen in these programs, and encourage families to continue to actively seek and use these success making programs.