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    2020 School Board Candidates

August 18, 2021

Advocates across Michigan grow in their calls for mask mandates in schools

Launch Online Petition to County Health Officers

After MDHHS failed to require masks in schools, parents across the state have started pop-up advocacy groups to advocate for schools to follow CDC guidelines to protect children.

“Parents all want our kids back in school. We want them to have as normal a year as possible. Parents shouldn’t have to choose between safety or school. A mask and some sensible precautions are our kids’ ticket to normal”, says Alison Bernstein, PhD who is a neuroscientist and a co-Founder of SciMoms, “after all we sacrificed last year, to see it might not happen safely? To just give up? It’s devastating.”  

That devastation has turned into action. Pop-up advocacy groups across the state have grown at breakneck speed to make sure kids can safely attend school this year. 

“What started as a conversation between two moms on Aug 8th has now grown into a movement called Smart Science Alliance with over a thousand like-minded people behind it.” says Marie Griffioen, an organizer with Smart Science Alliance.

“What we want is simple – to protect the health of our kids and our community against COVID-19 through community health guidelines that are enforced appropriately and based on data, logic, and expert recommendations.”

Smart Science Alliance originated in Kent County and is advocating for an immediate county-wide mask mandate in schools along with the other CDC layers of recommended protection including social distancing, contact tracing, and cohorts in schools. 

Similar groups have also organized in Wayne and Oakland counties. From encouraging activation at school board meetings to coordinated advocacy at the county-wide level, these groups are working locally to protect kids and make face-to-face learning as safe as possible. 

“We started GPPSS Community for Safe F2F in early 2021 as a response to the pivot from hybrid to full F2F while local and National COVID-19 case numbers were high.” Jen Evans says. “It has evolved over the summer to focus on a mask-required return to school this fall with the rise in Delta cases.”

Similar county-wide groups have popped up in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County.

Oakland County Parents for Safe In Person School started July 27th, when there was growing concern about the lack of required masking for the fall.  The group today has 1200 members and 300 pending members.

Already there are signs that health leaders are listening to advocates, and responding to the new dynamics with the Delta variant. The Genesee County Health Department just announced that masks will be required for K-6th grade. 

“While the order from Genesee county falls short of the recommendations of the CDC, MDHHS, and the AAP, the order addresses the most urgent need—protection of children not yet eligible to be vaccinated. We hope Oakland County Health Division does at least this much. All Michigan children deserve to be safe in school.” Nicole Kessler from Oakland County Parents for Safe In Person School shared. 

Parent advocates are working with education justice advocacy groups on a collective statewide push.  The Michigan Education Justice Coalition, a coalition working to ensure ALL students in MI have equitable access to their educational needs, is releasing a statewide petition directed at county health officers to adopt a mask mandate in schools. 

“Students across Michigan have struggled academically because of the vast Covid-19 spread. School communities deserve to know that our public health officials are doing everything they can to keep our kids safe. The stimulus funds allocated to school districts give us an opportunity to master unfinished learning, invest in mental health and public health services, provide extensive tutoring and other interventions but if Covid-19 once again ravages our communities, we will be faced with an even tougher hill to climb in terms of just managing the basic needs of our communities. In rural communities across Michigan, students do not have access to quality health care services and this burden is often left to schools to sort out. We must do everything we can so that our students can be safe in our school buildings AND get the support and services they need,” said Jill Murphy, Small-Town and Rural Program Director, Michigan United. MI United is a member of the Michigan Education Justice Coalition.

Additionally, a direct appeal to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has been sent with over 40 initial signatures from health professionals, scientists, faith leaders, educators, and parent advocates. The letter was shared with MDHHS director Elizabeth Hertel and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s Chief Medical Officer, on Friday. 

Advocates requested a meeting with MDHHS to follow up with the letter and ask questions directly of MDHHS. The request was declined by the office. 

Parent advocates remain undeterred. Organizing parents at school board meetings and with direct appeals to individual schools continues. 

The advice from the pediatric medical community has been unequivocal in its support for universal mask mandates in schools. The Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics shared an open letter aligning directly with the national organization’s appeal for mask requirements in schools. 

“Effective public health strategies are those that are made with the intent and power to be followed by all, not by the will of some, or even most.” says Dr. Rosemary Olivero, Pediatric infectious diseases physician and Division Chief of Medical Specialties, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital of Spectrum Health. “Leaving such an important decision as the universal use of masks in schools to individual districts and/or individuals themselves, especially when the end user is a child who is subject to many whims, is certain to be ineffective. The lessons learned from last year are extremely potent, and give us the clear path to the safest academic year possible, and the cornerstone of that is: universal use of masks in schooling environments.”

But the political landscape seems to become more unstable for these parents arguing for science-based decision making.

“We are told by leaders this should be an evidence-based and science-based decision, yet we are now seeing GOP state representatives threaten the funding of local health departments if county health officers decide to mandate masks,” Marta Johnson, a parent advocate, shared. “Republican politicians trying to threaten public health funding deserve to be recalled for being so careless with our kids’ lives. Being abandoned and threatened by an entire political party during a pandemic has certainly compelled many parents to get involved in politics like never before!”

Despite some school districts changing course as health departments strengthen their recommendations to “recommend to require”, it leaves too many districts and counties vulnerable to another wave of Covid hospitalizations. 

“The system of recommendations based on trust has failed us. It has resulted in more contagious and more dangerous variants such as Delta emerging.” Marie Griffioen from the Smart Science Alliance shared. “If we don’t act now the consequences are easily foreseen. They are dangerous, and they are avoidable. Besides vaccinations, a mask order is the easiest, most efficient way to protect the most members of our community. It is the least we can do to keep our kids healthy, safe, and in school.”

October 20, 2020

Misha LJ Stallworth

School District: Detroit

  1. Why do you want to be a school board member? *

I first ran for election because I believed I had meaningful skills to improve the district, I wanted to make a difference in Detroit, and I knew that the privilege and opportunity I’d been afforded educationally should be accessible to all Detroit students.  I’m running for re-election because I still believe those things.  And, I’m running for re-election because there’s much more work to do to continue improving our district.  I believe that I have proven myself well-suited for that work.  In fact, I believe myself, Sonya Mays and Iris Taylor, to be the candidates best suited for that work especially during such uncertain times as a global pandemic.

  1. What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district? *

Education justice means that students have access to the opportunities that they need.  That their families and the adults supporting them have tools to facilitate their students’ success.  In our school district it means from a funding perspective we have what we need, and aren’t forced to make it work with what we have.  From a curricular perspective it means that students are being challenged and that their critical thinking and creativity is being nurtured.  Organizationally, it means that students and staff are met with culturally responsive and anti-racist environments, that they have voice and input in organizational development, and that staff are properly supported in their wages, training, and opportunities for advancement.

  1. If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like? *

I think there are opportunities we can learn from in this crisis. Virtual meetings have led to increased community engagement in board meetings; continuing that engagement is important.  The dramatic increase in virtual learning has pushed districts and teachers to better integrate technological tools into teaching and learning and to ensure families have access to technology.  Schools, and local governments, should continue to ensure technology is accessible and integrated into classrooms.  My greatest hope is that we can truly reimagine school funding after this crisis.  One of the first things we did as a district when the shelter in place was first directed was figure out how to continue feeding students.  Another action we took quickly was establishing a mental health hotline.  Schools are expected to serve students and families holistically yet underfunded for the “essential services” like teaching students with special needs. Our governments need to take a new approach to school funding.

  1. Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district? *

The Districts governance and operations should be in partnership with parents, students and families.  It is the collective that would ensure the attainment of excellence.  This would include constantly engaging in multiple communication avenues.

  1. Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

My colleagues and I who are running as a slate have been fundraising together and received support from diverse and bi-partisan sources.  We have also received support from across the community including faith-based institutions and the local business community.  Over the past four years these diverse relationships and partnerships have been critical to work in the district such as negotiating the partnership schools MOU which kept 24 schools from closing, advocacy on behalf of the Right to Read case, replacing water fountains with led and copper free hydration stations, and recently, procuring over 50,000 laptops and wifi for students.  In a Republic dominated legislature, as we continue to advocate for equitable school funding, these diverse relationships across our Detroit community continue to be critical.

  1. What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district? *

DPSCD is a reform district and therefore student achievement–literacy and math literacy–is always my top priority.  Additionally, while facing the COVID-19 pandemic it will always be critical to ensure a protective environment and access to education for all families.

However aside from those things, my top priorities are:

  1. Amplify Student Voice–Students deserve to have a voice in the policies and practices that they have to experience every day.  Positioning leadership opportunities that allow for them to do that ensures DPSCD will develop environments that reflect their needs and that students will grow in their leadership skills. I intend to see through the authentic implementation of the student board member role and support further development of student leadership opportunities
  2. Facilitate Community Connections–We have a lot more work to do in building trust and effective communications between the district and the community.  The people closest to our challenges, our own community, has answers, resources, and valuable ideas to develop solutions. It’s critical that our broader community is connected to our district and present to support our children and families.​
  3. Continue to Positively Change Culture–DPSCD has seen a positive shift in culture so that staff, students, and families feel supported and welcomed as well as have opportunities to provide feedback. There’s more work to do to ensure our organizational culture sets expectations for excellence in all areas with students as the number one priority. In the next four years, I plan to spend time especially on fulfilling our commitment to be an anti-racist district
  1. What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level? *
  1. Continue to fight to change how we fund public education so that our district and students are equitably supported.
  2. Legislation preventing return of emergency management 
  3. Exit from state oversight – we have met the demands of the treasury department by demonstrating fiscal responsibility 
  1. What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe? *

We are already seeing a sample of the challenges we’ll continue to face.  Black and Brown folks are over-represented in essential work and among students with special needs so we will always be navigating how to best provide educational options for our families.  At the start of the school year, we had lost contact with 8,000 students (that number is now down to 2,000).  Our community has a high percentage of renters and families who are experiencing transience.  Lack of connection with a school building makes it difficult to remain connected and we’ll have to continue to identify ways to ensure students have access to their educations.  People will get sick and they will be scared.  It’s our job to continue building trust so that families and staff feel supported by DPSCD and while a face to face option is available, as safe as possible within our buildings.

DPSCD continues to be very responsive to the needs of our children, parents and staff  during this COVID-19 pandemic. The metrics and criteria established by the CDC, MDHHS and City of Detroit Health Department have guided our reopening plan while leaving flexibility for adjustments due to the uncertainty of the virus.  The priority is to ensure a protective environment during this pandemic, which requires diligence and compliance with all safety measures.  The school opening plan provides the structure for this compliance.

  1. What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized in your district’s budget? *

We’ve established a strategic plan to guide our priorities.  

  • Items and processes that support student achievement (the “classroom” including staff wages and supportive roles such as counselors and nurses)
  • Physical plant operation and maintenance (“buildings)
  • Advance learning opportunities (“enrichment”)

If we can’t afford to do something well we should hold off on those activities and focus our energy on top priorities.  Additionally, if there are worthwhile projects that fit within a school based budget but can’t be justified in a districtwide budget, they should be supported at the school level and we can learn how to scale in the future.

  1. What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district? 

Public schools exist within our systems of government.  And our systems of government have determined that quality is evaluated based upon standardized tests scores.  Therefore, we must participate in them.  That aside, I also think that some standardized testing is good because it allows use to compare and contrast at scale across our very large district and between other districts.  However, the results of standardized tests are not the end all be all, they are one data point, among others that should be considered, that I do believe is helpful.  Testing should be used sparingly so as to support teacher creativity with curriculum and an educational system that’s responsive to student needs.

  1. f you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum, what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same? *

We’ve worked hard to update the district’s curriculum over the past few years. It was selected by teachers after learning about national standards and going through an evaluation process, so I would keep our curriculum.  However, I would like to do an anti-racism review of our curriculum and modify or supplement as necessary to ensure we are authentic in our commitment to being an anti-racist school district. Also, teachers are currently adjusting to the new curriculum which takes time.  As we get into a rhythm, I would like to see teachers supported in amplifying the curriculum–adding additional reading to ELA classes which proposes different angles to the given topics; building in concepts like engineering and coding to math curriculum, etc.

  1. What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing? *

Mental Health services have increased under this board. We have added roles that build relationships with students such as deans of culture, culture facilitators, and attendance agents. We have increased funding for social workers and school counselors.  We work with partnering organizations to offer further support. Integration of services across school based clinics and external agencies is one of our goals, and should be developed to ensure early detection and intervention for students’ needs.  Specifically, in the areas of suicide prevention/awareness, depression, and anxiety there must continue to be a focus.

As an organization it’s important to also support the mental and emotional well being of staff. On one hand, that is accomplished by continuing to develop our organizational culture into one where staff feel happy at work, connected to their peers and leaders, and absent from fear.  We’ve made great strides in this area which I think is demonstrated by the consistent increase in staff who report they would recommend the district as a place to work (via annual survey).  On the other hand, this is accomplished by directly supporting mental health needs. We continue to look for the best benefit packages for staff and all of our staff have access to benefits.  This is an important area of work because it ensures staff have access to mental health services through their health insurance.  We also, when reviewing staff discipline, make sure to have attentiveness to challenges that may be related to mental health.  Under those circumstances, the district supports mental health evaluations prior to any disciplinary decisions.  These are the kinds of areas of mental health and emotional well-being for which the board has responsibility.

  1. How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff? *

Since the reform of the Student Code of Conduct, led by myself and supported wholly by my colleagues, restorative practice, positive behavior interventions, and family engagement have been at the core of our discipline model.  I believe it’s important that students remain connected to their schools (in buildings under normal circumstances) so that their educations are compromised when they have a behavior challenge.  I believe that students should be able to learn from their mistakes and be supported in health social and emotional development.  I also believe that as a community–students and staff– have to embrace a common meaning for safety and responsibility to keep one another safe and to do no harm to one another.  That’s the first step in keeping schools safe and why we’ve tried out campaigns such as “Expect Respect,” so that there’s a common language and responsibility.  Safety from violence, especially external violence, is a different circumstance.  We need staff who are trained and available to disrupt violence–whether that’s security or school police.  But it has to be clear that the role is violence disruption/prevention; not student behavior, learning, or development.

  1. What are your top priorities around special education in your district? *

A large proportion of DPSCD students have special needs.  However, within Black and Brown communities misdiagnoses and overdiagnoses are common.  So we’ve started with ensuring accurate and early identification of special needs and from there supported students through our comprehensive Exceptional Students Education plan (and following policies).  The plan includes a focus to remove the stigma and engage parents. We have a very diverse student body whose needs range from mild to severe. There is much more work to be done to implement the plan, address funding shortfalls and attract exceptional talent who are dedicated to the needs of our young people.  With such a large population of students with special needs, equity in this case looks like ensuring they have all the supports they need to receive a high quality education.

  1. What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

As the largest urban public school district in the state, equity has always been at the forefront. When we first were appointed, the state was threatening to close a significant amount of our schools which would have disenfranchised thousands of students, jeopardizing their right to access to public education.  We swiftly went to work with the State Superintendent to develop a plan to ensure our schools remained open but most importantly were placed on a plan to ensure students were not attending a failing school. We are on track to turn around these schools. This is just one example of our focus on equity, other examples include ensuring we maintain a balanced budget to exit from the FRC, this is important on many levels but most importantly we would not be able to secure funding to repair our buildings and physical plant. We must ensure our students have buildings that are conducive to learning. As a board, our job is to oversee state and district level policy is in place to not only operate but to ensure we are operating in a way that accommodates and addresses all of our students needs, from equitable teacher pay, professional development, student resources, cultural responsiveness, and much needed wrap around services for our most vulnerable population of students.

  1. Any other information you want to include or share?
October 20, 2020

Billie Mitchell

Pronouns:She/her
School District:Flint Community Schools
City:Flint

How long have you lived in your district?

5 years

Have you received any endorsements?

None

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I would love to see the Flint Community Schools flourish like they once did. I believe my experience with youth and my passion for the future of youth , gives me an advantage to seeing that our schools return to the great state and standard once held.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice means serving students to the degree that THEIR environment and community deems necessary. No one school district is the same , therefore “blanket , one-size fits all” plans are outdated and out of the question , ESPECIALLY in Flint. Flint is unique because of our poverty , illiteracy rates , lead issues , etc…there is no other place that can be compared to Flint.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Aside from the obvious lack of aesthetics , school would be a place where children not only grow cognitively , but would grow in their family structure. The amount of support services for families would invest in the structure of the family , creating opportunities for financial , emotional , mental growth and more. I believe if we can support the family , we could ultimately alleviate many barriers that not only families face , but that teachers/administrators face when teaching our children.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

This goes back to my previous answer around how I reimagine schools and parents , students and families have to be involved in making decisions with our school district because we can only create effective and lasting change when we get to the root of issues that create barriers for learning.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

My family.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

My top three educational goals for my school district are: funding , resources , family support.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

My top three goals at a state level are: funding , the Read by Grade Three Law , School/municipal policies.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I anticipate that due to COVID , schools will not resume in person as planned. My concern is the mental and social health of the students and families and how we can combat issues that may arise due to quarantine.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

My schools top districts spending priority should be on staffing schools appropriately with teachers , administration and other staff in order to have the manpower to serve the children in the capacity the students need serving. What should not be my districts priority is updating buildings that will have a lesser likelihood of staying open due to repairs and maintenance.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I think if students are going to be standardized tested in Flint , then Flint students need to be prepared accordingly. Otherwise standardized test essentially fail Flint students.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

If I could have an impact on my school districts curriculum , I would definitely push for students to learn about the different histories such as African American history , foreign language , home economics , financial economics , fine arts and small business instruction.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I believe my schools district has a great responsibility in supporting students and staff mental healthy. Ones health without the other calls for a great disturbance and injustice to everyone involved.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?My schools district should handle student discipline by having those check-ins with the family in order to build that relationship that garners trust and respect first and foremost. Students who do not respond , would be offered counseling and if in fact , a student was violent appropriate measures should be considered.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Special education is crucial in Flint’s district because of the added barrier of lead poisoning to our children.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

My perspective on working toward achieving equity within Flint’s district is shaping a future for our students that does not leave them behind , but in fact puts them ahead. Our poverty and lack Of opportunity should not be built upon in our educational system solely because we are a poor , predominately black community.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am a tireless fighter for what is right and not what looks right or makes me look good. My work has never been about me and I look forward to continuing on the road of advocating for the greater good of others.

October 20, 2020

Timothy Abdul-Matin

Pronouns:Mr.
School District:Flint community schools
City:Flint

How long have you lived in your district?

Over 10 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes , Senator Jim Ananich.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I believe my life experience gives me insight at what are school district needs to do for our children. We need more men from our community to step up and be a voice and I believe that my voice can make a difference in the decision making of our kids future.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education Justice for me is ensuring that every student gets treated fairly and be invested in. That those with the most need get the resources they need and that policies that negatively and disproportionately effect students be changed or eradicated. Also , I believe that education justice is given students from impoverished neighborhoods and school district get the same opportunities to be part of the civic life of their community as those in affluent neighborhoods and districts.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

My vision is to make sure that our facilities infrastructure is up to code and sustainable. It is environmentally unjust to have buildings in the 21st century where the infrastructure is outdated and dilapidated. We should expand our educating methods by implementing best practice models and bringTrauma informed practices to educate our children. Community involvement , we must work with community centers and organizations that can offer additional resources and outlets for students. Last but not less , we have to make sure we get funding and be accountable for making sure it is sustainable so that we don’t have to make decisions that could impact the health of our students.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Families voices should be heard and i believe that our school district should be engaging with families to see how they could work together. We need more school/family events and more transparency from school districts. I will create a community educational commission involving parents , students , educators , administrators , and community members with the intention of bridging the gap between them all.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

N/A

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1. Expanding the curricula
2. Rebrand our district’s mission
3. Training , we must get adequate training for our educators.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

1. Increase per-pupil funding
2. Address institutional and structural barriers
3. Provide additional funding for students with special needs.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

The biggest challenge we will face will be keeping our students and educators safe. Our school district must put in the proper safe guards for students and educators. Acquiring PPE , decreasing classroom sizes , and creating a safety plan that will be best at minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Our top priority should be focus on our children that need special education and on decreasing the digital literacy gap.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I believe that standardized testing should play a very little role. Often times educators are pressured to teach their classrooms based on these standardized testing dates and students get left behind because the may not learn as quick as other students , or they don’t perform well on testing. Not to mention , some studies show that standardized testing are culturally bias.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I would elevate Black and non-dominant narratives and promote relevant , culturally-influenced education and self- determination for minority communities. I would provide culture and history training for educators and increase teacher diversity. One of the most important things I would like to see is skill trades programs , expanding art programs and implementing artificial intelligence learning , blockchain development and cloud computing.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

My campaign mantra is entitled: “Bring back the village” and I believe that every person involved in a students life has a responsibility to provide that child/student with a safe and healthy environment. Nonetheless , we must also provide our educators with that same
Kind of compassion and love as well. After all , these are the individuals who are part of our village that will be educating our children.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?I believe our district needs to adopt best practice restorative justice models and have trauma informed Individuals to deal with any students with disciplinary problems. If we can find monies to bring in these trained professionals we could eliminate criminalizing our students because we don’t know how to manage their behaviors.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

More funding for special education
Additional resources and trainings for educators who are education those students who need special education.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

We must adopt a just plan on ensuring that we achieve equitable outcomes for students and provide an avenue for using an equity lens to review all policies , practices and procedures within our school district.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Unfortunately Due to work , I can not attend this virtual forum but I want voters to know that I will fight hard for our children , educators and our school district. We will bring back the village so that as a community our schools will be the best choice again.

October 20, 2020

Alicia Bronson

Pronouns:She/her
School District:Pennfield School District
City:Battle Creek

How long have you lived in your district?

16 years

Have you received any endorsements?

I don’t think so

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to continue being a School Board member to help with the equity within the district. I feel very passionate about students education and helping students grow into their full capacity. I want to continue with the greatness and help our students reach their goals for their future.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

To be honest , I had not realized there was an education justice. I would hope that it would mean that the organization would be fighting for everyone to have education because we all deserve it , no matter what background you are from.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

It’s hard to believe that we are even in a crisis right now. I would hope that we are capable of making sure our students and teachers are safe and that we are in buildings learning. I would like to see that our schools would have better ventilation to accommodate that. I think that our technology department would be fully supported to help all families who have trouble with wifi. This could even open the doors to keep the virtual option that would perhaps accommodate some students to take extra classes to expand their education.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

I think that everyone in our district can play a role to be involved by reaching out to the school board and giving healthy constructive criticism when problems arise. We can also provide information when the School Board is doing well and on track for bettering the school. Hearing both the positives and the negatives will help the district grow to great potential. Especially if the Board is willing to hear it all.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

I don’t have any

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

I would love to see the schools get the much needed updates to buildings to support our students and teachers learning environment. Support our arts departments better then they are currently and help there success grow. To have the number of students graduate with academic scholarships grow.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

I would love to see our schools get more assistance financially to continue to maintain and fix our buildings to support the education of our students. I would love to see that all students could go to community college or trade school for free.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I know we will face the issue of ventilation in our school buildings which effect how long students will be able to be in our buildings. Prior to covid ventilation was already a huge issue and with the months now getting colder , I worry that masks won’t be able to slow down this virus in our buildings. Im hoping to we can find a way to bring our students and teachers back into our buildings as safely as possible.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I don’t think that standardardized tests should play as big of a role as it has in the past. I do believe it can help with growth of a child , but I don’t think the pressures should be there for the students success and for the teachers success as well.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

I’m not an educator. I don’t know how I would even try to change anything. I do feel that I would like to leave it to the ones that truly know what is best for our students , the teachers and the administrators. I trust in my district they have and are making the right decisions on our curriculum. They do make the necessary changes to help our students growth , at least I feel they are at this time.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I feel that there should be some access to mental health professionals for all staff , students and families that live or attend school in our district , as often as needed. Life is hard and there is a lot pressures put on our students to succeed and those same pressures are put on our teachers to make that happen for those students. There are negative life issues that can affect a child that comes to school and that also can be a burden the teacher faces. Students and staff need to be supported to make sure that are capable of doing their jobs , which is to learn and to teach. We have to take care of the place (the brain) that is going to store all the information that is learned and what is going to be taught.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

Although we have made some progress , I do feel there are some things that have not been addressed and , possibly , not even aware of that need to be addressed. This world is always changing and we need to make sure that we are keeping up and not leaving anyone behind.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 20, 2020

Richard Clement

Pronouns:We
School District:Detroit Public Schools Community District
City:Detroit

How long have you lived in your district?

60 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Rep. Cynthia Johnson

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

Give back to my community

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

The opportunity to learn relevant skills without interference

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

School nurses in every school building with testing kits and incentive pay to take tests two times a week

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Collective goal setting will work for the benefit of the students and the district

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Me.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

financial justice , restoring legacy names to school buildings , teacher safety

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

refinance school funding , building maintenance , undoing Detroit specific legislation

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

Incentive pay for taking Covid tests

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Health care for students and teachers , investing in technology and trade programs

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Measure student progress and determine where to invest resources to bring students up to speed , especially in reading

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

Make swimming a requirement for graduating from Detroit Public Schools.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Having rules and regulations to insure student and teacher growth and safety.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?Invest in mental health and increased investment in after school sports.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Increased pay and activities to keep the student’s mind busy. Music and art are some examples of priorities.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

There is always hope and good in the students of Detroit Public Schools

Any other information you want to include or share?

website www.clementfordpscd.com

October 20, 2020

Mark A Noffsinger MD

Pronouns:He/Him
School District:Mattawan Consolidated Schools
City:Mattawan

How long have you lived in your district?

24 years

Have you received any endorsements?

yes. Multiple

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

To be a positive force representing our students , parents and community to achieve a great education preparing our students to be confident positive contributors to society.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

That all students receive the same educational opportunities , with equal access and assistance.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Individualized plans to progress all students to the optimal education for the student.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Openly share concerns and desires. Think “outside the box”

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

None except myself

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

Curriculum which fits the needs of future success , Ability to individualize support and progress , Creating productive , contributing citizens.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

Same

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

Create as safe an environment as possible while still progressing education.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Supporting our teachers , both in pay , benefits , and classroom support. Important but not as high a priority , facility support.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

One objective means of comparison as to progress

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

Options to individualize , depending on abilities/interests. Core teaching same.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Significant role and responsibility of School Board and district.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?Needs to be set out clearly to students , parents and staff , and need to achieve uniformity in enforcement

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Necessary and needs support , and individualized plans.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

Work in progress , but progressing.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Mattawan is a great school system , with committed staff and community , which will continue to produce confident , productive citizens who contribute greatly to society.

October 20, 2020

Michael D. Doan

Pronouns:He/him
School District:Flint community schools
City:Flint

How long have you lived in your district?

25 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Teamsters local 332

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to become a board member because I believe education is the most important tool on your tool belt in this world. No one can take you knowledge from you. We have to teach that to our new generation of young people like it was taught to us. Everyone wants to become successful over night but not be educated or taught that you have to work really hard for that type of success. I believe someone like myself a person that’s still considered to be young and Still learning myself , who else is better to teach that to our generation coming up now. I can relate to the tough issues students go through in their daily life. I believe I can be a person who advocate for our children and can come on this board and create real change in the way our district so desperately needs. Flint needs a board who can relate to the issues at hand.I believe that the children need to have an advocate. A person who really has their best interest at heart. We need to get back to the basics and make sure they are getting the things they need to be successful members of society. They are indeed our future and we need to make sure we are developing our future the children to continue on the work for Flint schools just as we are.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice means to me that every child that goes through the flint school district has the best qualified teaches , guidance counselors and opportunities to elevate and graduate. To have advanced courses , skill trades , home economics , and financial literacy to ensure every child has the opportunities to figure out and develop their skills and abilities so that they can move forward in life productively.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

If I could reimagine the way schools would look like after the pandemic; it would be to update the schools we have left In the district. Each student being able to have advance home health and skill trade opportunities. For each student to have the option of extra tutoring and working online from home during a sick day or a day where it’s just I’m possible to deal with the traditional brick and mortar setting , but still can complete their classes/courses to not fall behind.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

I believe bringing different groups to the table in the decision making of the district , a mother’s group , auntie group , fathers , group. Also board town hall meetings sharing ideas , speaking to the community , having good old conversations with students and families creating an open dialogue between the district and the community.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Family and local businesses

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

My top three educational priorities within the district is bring back home economic , financial literacy , and last but not least skill trade programs. Those three are very important educational priorities because you use them in your everyday life. Even after high school and college.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

My top three educational priorities at a state level would have to be (SAT , ACT , PSAT , MEAP). Which are all state test but also Early childhood development and Special Education because a lot of the time those two get looked over.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I believe the challenges where not having a plan to began with always believing brick and mortar was the only option when covid hit , also not having virtual school an option in the beginning before covid , which led to not enough equipment for the students. I believe the challenge was not having enough “what if” plans in place for a pandemic such as covid19. I believe the district has to put a team in place that reports directly to the board on keeping students and staff safe this school year. That team being responsible for collecting data on students and staff health and if they may or may not have the covid symptoms. sanitation for all the schools and also having the student and staff practice social distances. Bringing a Certified nurse back into the schools. Last but not least; keeping virtual school a option for so many who have other health issues and can’t risk coming back into the traditional brick and mortar setting.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

The top spending priorities should be teachers , advanced study programs , special education , updating of old school buildings. An alternatively I believe everything thing dealing with the school district has some level of priority rather big or small.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I think standardized tests are very important as a focal point and should play a big role in the district to see where exactly is students achievement level are at in certain categories. However I don’t believe that should determine where the state will invest dollars. I believe that no matter what state dollars should be distribute equally and fairly through each district.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

One major change to the curriculum I have that I think would be a huge impact is to bring back home economic and Financial literacy. Just like in grand Blanc or flushing , Fenton ,etc. Go back to the basic bring back the skill center. Bring coding into the game. Partner with Kettering who’s here in flint for robotics for flint students. Last but not least bring arts and craft back. Not just band but studio , videographer ,etc. I honestly don’t know what I would keep the same now , everything in this district needs to be reformed.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

I think the school holds a lot of responsibility in supporting the teachers and students mental and emotional wellbeing. I believe that there are not enough outlets for the children. Sports should not be the only outlet. We need band , choir , arts , drama , glee , journalism , yearbook classes as well as newer things such as music production , coding , robotics , photography and videography. These children need things to do that interest them , not just the traditional things. The teachers also need things for support. Life is stressful and everyone needs and outlet. We need counseling readily available to the children as well as teachers , meditation classes and yoga. We need to make sure our teachers mental is taken care of so they can take care of our children while on their care.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?I believe the disciplinary actions need to be redesigned. I do not believe that everything warrants a child being expelled. Maybe we need to find different ways like maybe a community service program for certain things. As far as making the children and staff feel safe I believe we need to be proactive not reactive about situations such as weapons and threats. More security guards or even train the teachers for situations.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

I believe especially since the water crisis special education is so important! We have children with ADHD , PTSD , dyslexia , autism , and numerous other learning disabilities that don’t necessarily warrant a special classroom , but the teachers need to be equip to handle them and they need to have programs and outlets directly geared towards them. For those that need special classes and classrooms we need to make sure that they have highly qualified teachers to assist them in their learning as well. We want ALL of our children to succeed.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

Auction off or selling old buildings and land to developers for the city.

Any other information you want to include or share?

No thank you

October 20, 2020

M. Jeanice Townsend

Pronouns:she/her
School District:Ypsilanti Community Schools
City:Ypsilanti

How long have you lived in your district?

30+

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes , Mayor Lois Richardson , City of Ypsilanti Kirk Profit , Former Michigan State Representative Superior Township Trustee Lisa Lewis Pittsfield Township Trustee Linda Edwards-Brown Cherisa Allen , MSW Retired Ypsilanti High School Counselor Beverly Tyler Jeanette Hadden , Community Advocate Dr. Benjamin Edmondson , Former Ypsilanti Community Schools Superintendent Washtenaw County Commissioner Ricky Jefferson Lawrence Hood , Achievement Network Vice President Bryan Foley , Community Advocate Ypsilanti City Councilman Brian Jones-Chance Ypsilanti Township Trustee Jimmie Wilson , Jr. Attorney Terrence Quinn Andy French , Community Business Owner Attorney Arianne Slay Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton Kathy Wyatt Attorney Ka’Nea Brooks-Caldwell Emma Jackson , Retired Education Administrator Pastor Jason Robon , Reach Church Washtenaw County Democratic Party – Black Caucus

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I have a passion for children. I want to make sure that every child in this community receives a quality education. I want to be on the team of board members , YCS teachers , staff and administrators , families and community partners who achieve the vision of a transformed school district where “Every family considers Ypsilanti Community Schools a place where they belong , and a crucial part of their identity as learners.”

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice means the quality of a school’s education is not determined by geographic location , neighborhood socio economic status , and racial demographics. It means funding all schools equitably – not based on housing prices and not determined by community vote or partisan politics.

In the context of my school district , achieving education justice means not letting our vision of a quality education be limited by our budget restraints. For example , if we are temporarily unable to increase wages due to budget constraints , we need to think outside the box of traditional compensation to develop meaningful incentives and resources to reduce the overall cost of living for our teachers and staff. Strategies for doing this might include a housing down payment assistance program; student loan reduction/forgiveness plans; and tuition reimbursement for continuing education. Washtenaw County is home to educational institutions and responsive community leaders who can help YCS create win/win budget enrichment programs as we work towards long term financial strength and stability.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

It is my responsibility as a board member to consistently work towards an educational system that works most effectively for every family , and every learner. This public health crisis has given us new insight into what our priorities must be as we move forward. Key ingredients of my vision include:

1) Schools as communities , centers for family learning.

2) Every family has affordable internet access and sufficient equipment and training to use it.

3) Parents as teachers and learners – for example , IT adults teaching other adults how to use computers. We need to have a strong adult education format.

4) Neighborhood learning pods continued outside of school hours.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

As described in a recent article about YCS response to the pandemic , parents , students , families and other community stakeholders are currently being involved in decision making. As a new board member , I will prioritize an assessment of the systems , policies and practices that are in place to make sure families feel they are being heard. I will also work to ensure that their involvement is intentional , strategic and broadly representative.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

Myself , family , and friends.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

Safety

Equity

Quality

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

Sufficient and equitable funding.

Strong , consistent and trustworthy relationships between YCS and our state legislators.

Well informed state leaders who recognize the critical role YCS plays in our county.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I think the biggest challenge in the upcoming year is how do we provide a quality education post Covid and reinvent ourselves to be a state-of-the-art district that can provide both online and in-person learning with less resources. A component of that would be to create a curriculum that engages our student in deeper learning and cultural relevance. We will also need to create partnerships with our stakeholders that will result in scale growth such creating housing opportunities for our families and career training. Lastly , the other biggest challenge will be , how do we quickly implement systematic changes that will positively affect long term goals for our children.

In order to keep our staff and students safe , we have to listen to the science and create contingency plans that will gradually allow our students and staff to return to our schools. In the meantime , we need to increase our support staff and social workers to help our family and teachers cope with our new way of learner. We will also need for our leaders and community to help with providing additional resources to reinforce our educational goals. In other words , all hands on deck.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

The schools top priority spending for this current budget will need to be on 1) Making sure that the buildings are safe (updating the HVAC systems are compatible). We must have enough PPE equipment for staff and students. 2) Special education services and resources. 3) Testing – We need to consistently look at our metrics to make sure that our students are staying on course. 4) Support services for our students , families , and staff….equity.

In regards to what we should not to prioritize , as new board member I would need to know all of our current restrictions on our budget and listen to other perspectives from other board members and administration in order to give an opinion.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

Continual , reliable and effectively conducted assessment is an absolutely critical component of every school district. The problems with using standardized testing as a measure of teaching and learning success are well documented. Despite the challenges of the testing it is imperative to use the standardized tests. The role of the standardized test coupled with other performance measures will determine next steps for student success.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

As a board member , the way I have an impact on my district’s curriculum is by making sure the curriculum experts we employ are highly qualified and reflect the district’s core values in their practice. It is my responsibility to identify a district leader who is experienced and knowledgeable enough to identify and support. In regards to changes , I would make sure that the curriculum creates a feeder program for careers that we now know that our community requires due to the inequities that Covid -19 has brought to light. For example , we need to increase and expand our CTE program to focus on careers in agriculture , trades , entrepreneurship , medical , and legal.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Mentally healthy children are more successful in school and life. Research demonstrates that students who receive social–emotional and mental health support achieve better academically. School climate , classroom behavior , on-task learning , and students’ sense of connectedness and well-being all improve as well. Additionally , the American Federation of Teachers (2015) found that 78% of teachers reported feeling physically and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. The stress that educators experience affects their enthusiasm about the profession and longevity in the field. Knowing this data commissions YCS to implement programs that puts emotional health as a priority. How you treat and support your team should be a direct reflection of your district’s core values.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?In order to have a proper discipline platform , the district will need to create strong partnerships with our community resources and the court/criminal justice systems that will encourage positive restorative justice practices. We need to make sure that we employ staff that are highly qualified to assist with getting to the core issues that hinder our students from learning. We will need to have a policy that allows a culture shift on how we deal with discipline issues. Our partnership with the criminal justice and court system should help to create alternative response to how we deal with discipline issues while promoting a positive outcomes to help our children succeed. The goal is create productive citizens who are highly educated.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

High Quality Instruction – It is clear that we have to support the students’ needs not the labels that are attached to them. We have to view our students as individuals. School is normalized with assistive technology that allows them to access core content. Students are no longer removed from regular instruction. Enabling paraprofessionals , social workers , Title I teachers , special educators to work in concert with the student to close the gap of learning.

School Safety – Employing a mental health interventionist on staff responsible for addressing the range of mild to severe trauma that can impede student functioning. These interventionists also lead schoolwide behavioral initiatives , including bullying reduction and positive behavior supports.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

In order to learn , every human being needs an environment where they feel safe , respected and valued. In order to feel welcome in their children’s schools , parents and caring adults need to feel safe , respected and valued in their relationship with their children’s schools. In order to teach effectively , teachers need to feel safe , respected and valued.

In order to create and sustain a truly equitable learning community , we need to identify the ways we , and therefore our educational system , perpetuates inequity and oppression.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My primary goal as a board member is to make sure that every child that comes through YCS succeeds. I want our children to be proud of the education that they received and I want them to be prepared for whatever path of success that they choose.

October 14, 2020

Sheree Conn

Pronouns: she/her
School District:Wayne-Westland Community School District
City: Westland

How long have you lived in your district?

40 + years, off and on.

Have you received any endorsements?

I’ve received endorsements from the following: William Wild, Mayor of Westland Jim Hart, President Westland City Council Mike Londeau, President Pro Temp Westland City Council Tasha Green, Councilwoman Westland City Council Andrea Rutkowski, Councilwoman City of Westland Mike McDermott, Councilman City of Westland Kevin Coleman, State Representative

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to become a school board member because students in Wayne/Westland deserve a world-class education. As our world rapidly changes, so too must our schools change for the betterment of our children. Better academic programs and greater enrichment opportunities are needed in order to meet the unique needs of our young learners.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

Education justice means equal access to quality education for all students. For the Wayne/Westland School District, this involves schools and communities working together to ensure we identify and retain qualified teachers that can provide quality instruction. This includes securing the educational resources necessary to see that our kids have every tool available to help them graduate high school ready for college or a career.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

Reimagining the way schools look includes a blend of real-life and online learning. Bringing more educational technology into schooling, kids spending more of their time learning time on screens, with programs individualized for each student so that we can meet them where they are.
Learning would occur at school, at home, in the community, and beyond.

Reopening schools need to take precautionary steps to keep students, teachers, and staff safe that include:
-Efficient ventilation systems
-More open spaces
-Reducing classroom sizes
-Increase bus routes so buses aren’t as full and require children that ride the bus to sit in a zigzag pattern
-Staying home if feeling ill, or who has been near someone with COVID-19
-In lieu of cafeteria lines, require that children eat in their classrooms with lunch brought from home or a boxed lunch provided by the school.
-Maintaining proper hand washing/respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes with elbow crease)
-Maintaining and providing adequate supplies such as disinfectant cleaners, hand soaps, and hand sanitizers
-Posting signs in highly visible locations that promote health safety measures

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

To educate parents about what is happening in the school, schools can sponsor family nights which focus on different education topics. So too, can we ask involved parents to contribute to the school blog or newsletter as a means to engage and increase parent involvement. Lastly, we can get families involved through online surveys. Google Forms and SurveyMonkeys are easy to create and distribute to parents via email, social media, and the school website.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

I do not have top financial supporters.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1) Ensure students are outfitted with the resources needed to excel whether they’re learning in class, or learning remotely.

2) We can neither attract nor retain the best educators if they don’t feel 100% supported; we need to encourage teacher retention by creating and establishing clear pathways for teacher leadership, growth, and promotion.

3) Improve board communication and establish a culture of transparency and accountability.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

We’ve got to think critically about the communities in which we live and work, identifying what’s important to the residents in our district. We need to take into consideration their backgrounds because representation matters, and embedding these values within our kids’ education is crucial to getting them engaged.

Funding should help attract highly qualified teachers, improve curriculum, and support additional programs that will have the greatest impact on our entire student population. My goal is to ensure funding supports the resources, programs, and services that our students need to be prepared to fully participate in the workforce and their community.

Emphasize workforce development, career & technical education (CTE) As an alternative to the traditional four-year degree, trade and technical schools offer specific vocational training for a wide variety of skilled careers with most requiring two years or less of training. We have an opportunity to address a skilled labor shortage, with hundreds of thousands of available jobs going unfilled because workers lack the necessary training.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

The protection of our children may be tougher to safeguard; in addition to processes in place to limit access to children at school, we must also ensure that bad individuals aren’t getting to our remote learners.

Along with face coverings and physical distancing, we can address COVID risks by having teachers move between classrooms, rather than having students fill the hallways between periods. Let’s allow kids to eat at their desks, or outside rather than in crowded lunchrooms.

Educators may begin to feel overwhelmed; but herein lies the opportunity to show them more appreciation, backing, and support as they play such a vital and irreplaceable role in these trying times.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

Our top spending priority should be to address the resource inequities that have been quickly exposed through the emergency move to virtual education during this pandemic.
-We need to address massive food insecurities among children and families.
-Investing in technology equity as a component of emergency preparedness.

Increasing teachers’ salaries to commensurate with their added responsibilities (as a result of Covid-19). Our children additionally require sound, clean facilities; however, this doesn’t mean they need to be the most expensive–wise and conservative spending is paramount.

What should not be our district’s priority is transportation due to our busses being used less. By redirecting funding to projects that both need to be done and have a higher priority due to COVID, projects that were promised to the voters through the bond approval can still be delivered but at different timing.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

When done right, standardized tests can be great tools for learning and making sure everyone is on track. Without a clear objective however, they can take invaluable time away from actually teaching and developing our youth. Smart and calculated tests enable us to measure the progress of our children, so long as it’s conducted in moderation.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

Increasing transparency around what’s taught in our district’s schools including the curriculum selection process can help incentivize our district to make well-informed choices. In addition, we’ve got to better engage our teachers, supporting them in implementing new curricula, while providing them with the tools to collaborate meaningfully with one another as they familiarize themselves with new materials. Furthermore, professional preparation to help these teachers deal with diverse learning styles and disparate needs is crucial. I would like to see a more inclusive curriculum that is culturally relevant creating socially-just learners and a curriculum that meets students where they are. Ongoing professional development on effective instructional practices needs to be commonplace in our public schools.

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

Mentally healthy kids are more successful both in school, and in life. Schools are an ideal setting to provide mental health services to our youth and our educators. Students are more likely to take advantage of counseling when it’s made available in schools. So too, are mental health services vital in order to improve physical and psychological safety, as well as academic performance and problem-solving abilities.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

I believe the district should reimagine discipline based on love and care for our young learners.

As a child, I had the good fortune of having authority figures who cared more about nurturing our spirits as young people than about criminalizing our behavior. It is time to get serious about real alternatives that get to the heart of what our students REALLY need.

-We should reallocate funds for SSOs to hire qualified mental health professionals.
-We need more counselors than cops. We need to break the school-to-prison pipeline, and it is only through the mediation of the deeper issues students deal with that this can be done.

A more holistic approach to restorative discipline can aid in fostering belonging rather than exclusion, and meaningful accountability over punishment. Students would have a strong sense of belonging rather than being at risk.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

Our district should be heavily invested in instruction time, including 1:1s and small group instruction. We’ve got to provide consistent schedules that support young learners in developing productive routines. We must also invest in parental support, engaging parents more so we can better understand the moderate and severe needs of our kids.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

We’ve got to ensure that students of all backgrounds come into equitable instruction by acknowledging students’ cultural heritage. Recognizing and implementing multiple perspectives into instruction helps students feel comfortable in their classroom environment, thereby enhancing learning for all of our young learners.

An important part of promoting equity means promoting inclusion and openness. This entails being respectful to each other, sharing ideas, opinions, and values. We must teach students self-awareness, how to disagree respectfully, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Furthermore, we can Invite parents into classrooms, showing students various representations of their culture and other cultures. We can bring people in from the community as guest speakers to share insights on current classroom topics. We can invite persons with physical or learning disabilities to talk about their unique experiences all in an attempt to establish respectful ways for students to have diverse experiences–thus better preparing them for life outside of the classroom.
We can improve equity by diversifying our school staff. Teachers serve as role models for students, providing them with real-life examples they might not otherwise be privy to. Community partners can also assist in making sure students are being equitably supported. Furthermore, we can implement culturally relevant teaching practices to aid in keeping our young learners cognizant of what’s happening in our world today.

Any other information you want to include or share?

The reason I’m running is to ensure that EVERY child in the Wayne/Westland School District is provided the chance to receive a high quality public school education. I’m committed to collaborating with our community to make every school across our district great, thereby giving our children a great chance at making the most of their lives.