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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Birmingham City School District

October 6, 2020

Samuel Oh

Pronouns:He/him
School District:Birmingham City School District
City:Birmingham

How long have you lived in your district?

8 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

From 2019-2020, both my elementary sons were victims of racism at school that went unabated. Ironically, at the time my son’s Kindergarten class was more than 40% minority, 2/3 of those Asian-American. However, there are no Asian principals, superintendents, or Board of Education members in the BPS system. Nothing ever changes without numbers and representation at the highest levels, not just tokenism. Leadership needs to reflect today’s reality of class diversity to purposefully defend equality.

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

To me, education justice means that all children are treated equally and afforded an opportunity to succeed. In the context of the Birmingham School District, this would mean accurate racial representation at the executive leadership levels.

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

A technology device would be in the hands of every student, regardless of their economic status. This would allow for us to pivot between on premise and virtual school models depending on the health climate. It would also provide the foundational technology skills that are needed in this digital era.

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

I would advocate for more public surveys on major decisions. After conducted, these surveys would require an action plan if more than a pre-determined percentage of the community desires a certain result. I would also propose the creation of a high school student association that would represent their peers and having a voting voice in key decisions. This would not only give our students a voice but also teach them how to become a voting member of society that practices civic duty.

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

There are no financial supporters for my campaign. I have no political agenda and only care for what makes sense for our schools and children.

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

Firstly, recent events have shown that Birmingham Public Schools is woefully ill prepared for the technology future. When COVID-19 first hit, virtual learning was an embarrassment. Even now, glitches persist, hindering our students’ education and putting Michigan’s schools further at risk of falling behind in national rankings. I would champion for an immediate technology revamp.

Second, the public school systems need to be laser-focused on growing population density. As the public schools have to increasingly compete with private schools, I would advocate for purposeful and strategic steps to achieve population density. If not, our local school districts will become a diminishing asset, over-staffed and underfunded.

Finally, executive school leadership and oversight has to proportionally reflect the reality of the incoming student body – 50% women, minority representation, etc. If elected I would look to correct this underrepresentation in our district.

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

I believe that school finance should be the top priority at the state level. Without proper funding and financial management, none of the other priorities can be properly addressed. Next, school safety is paramount during this COVID pandemic time. Finally, the state should focus on teaching quality. Michigan has been declining in test rankings of late and focus needs to be placed to ensure high quality education for our students.

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?

While establishing clear guidelines and safety protocols can be done, enforcing these may be challenging in a time when people’s beliefs and opinions on how to combat the virus differ. The schools must be united in fighting the pandemic, taking best practices and procedures that have been proven successful in hospitals and corporations.

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

The school district needs to focus on technology – tablets, laptops, and high quality software and applications. We also need to spend to create safe social distancing and a sanitary learning environment. This is also a time when many of our families are financially challenged. Therefore our district should spend less time on fundraising and focus more on cost savings measures.

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

Standardized test should remain – otherwise benchmarking is not possible. However, we also need supplemental measurement methods as well. Not all students are good test takers and intelligence has many dimensions.

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?

Ironically, data has shown that by focusing more on math and reading, this has actually caused our educational level decline versus improving it. Rudimentary reading and math skills will not develop reading comprehension. Our students need to go back to spending more time learning about science, history, and the arts. A deep and wide knowledge base is required as a foundation for reading comprehension. This will also improve student engagement as they can explore and discover what they are interested in. I would suggest establishing a reading program where our students choose and explore from a carefully teacher-curated option of books. By implementing this program by virtually incorporating technology, we can enable instantaneous choice. As for what I would keep the same would be testing and grading.

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

The school absolutely has responsibility in this. It should be a two pronged approached. We should weave healthy thought processes and techniques in managing life’s challenges into the curriculum. Our teachers should also be caring for the whole student, emotionally, mentally, and educationally. This way we can get ahead of a potential problem before it occurs. The second prong should be making available appropriate counseling for both students and staff. Partnering with local health institutions could also provide alternative avenues for subsidized professional behavioral health.

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

All incidents need to be recorded and documented, without exception. There is a tendency to brush off incidents to avoid conflict and correction. By making incidents public we enforce accountability and discourage deviance thus promoting a safer environment.

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

We need to strive towards maximum enrollment for our schools so that we can adequately fund our special education programs. As previously mentioned, this requires population density.

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

Technology is the great equalizer. I can not stress its importance. In today’s digital age, by providing adequate technology to each student we provide the same foundation for educational success.

Any other information you want to include or share?

With my family moving Birmingham in 2013, I consider myself more a recent resident. I have no political agenda and only care for what makes sense for our schools and children. With my corporate background and family of teachers, professors, veterans, healthcare professionals, and technology executives, I hope to bring new perspective, positive change, and tap into valuable best-case practices from other successful industries.

October 4, 2020

Nash Salami

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictBirmingham City School District
City:Birmingham, Beverly Hills, Bloomfield Twp/Hills, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Troy, West Bloomfield, Southfield

How long have you lived in your district?

3 Years

Have you received any endorsements?

State Senator Rosemary Bayer, Representative Mari Manoogian, Representative Kyra Bolden, Troy Councilwoman Theresa Brooks, AFSCME, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters, and the Birmingham Education Association

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

As a recent graduate of Seaholm High School, I’m looking to bring a different perspective to our school board that’s more in touch with students and their needs. I want to ensure that we are continuing a tradition of providing quality public school education to every student in our district while fostering a community of openness.

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

Educational justice, to me, means that we are ensuring the right to a high-quality education is afforded and accessible to every student, no matter their race, socio-economic background, or zip code. Specifically in BPS, it means ensuring an equitable amount of funding for our students and schools that serve more underserved students. It also means ensuring we have proper restorative action programs and safety nets in place to prevent “troubled” students from falling into the cycle of the school to prison pipeline.

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

I think they would be better designed and better equipped for the challenges tomorrow may present. Whether this is adhering to more technological advancements, or simply making sure our schools are equipped with all materials they may need to keep kids safe under different circumstances. Further, I would like to see schools be environments where students are able to recieve more help in their studies via one-on-one training with teachers, and have resources in the mental health space be readily available to them. These two objectives could be accomplished by reducing the workloads of both our educators and our councilors.

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

By being completely inclusive in collecting perspectives and ideas when weighing different issues as a board. I would be in support of forming special committees of teachers, administrators, parents, and students to review important policy issues being considered by the board to bring more perspectives into the circle. I would also like to review the way our board collects parent survey responses to ensure that we are collecting enough data for statistically significant results, and to make sure we are not using biased language when writing certain survey questions. I think it’s also important to collect quantitative and quantitative results through these surveys to better make decisions tailored to the needs and thoughts of important stakeholders.

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

I’ve only received small-dollar contributions from dozens of individuals.

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

To put more of a focus on the issues of mental health, fully proved our students with resources like school psychologists, social workers, and councilors, and accomplish these goals reduce work loads for councilors. Foster a community of that promotes diversity and accomplish this by providing extended resources to teachers in understanding the customs of the diverse range of customs practiced by our students

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

To change the way we fund our schools to prioritize the funding of public school districts, remove the retention clause of the third grade reading bill, and to review the standards we place on charter schools as they relate to the standards we impose on public schools.

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?

This year has posed many challenges as it relates to weathering the Covid-19 pandemic. I think the most important thing our school district must do in order to keep students and staff safe is to take into account expert opinion when it comes to figuring out how to reopen safely.

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

I think our district’s top spending priorities should be ensuring that each student has the resources they need to be successful, in all areas. This includes making sure their teachers are paid fairly, their councilors have a manageable work load, and they have access to a school psychologist during the school day.

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

I think standardized tests should be reduced and given a less significant role when determining the performance of our teachers. Teachers should have more time focusing on individual needs of their students, not scoring highest on standardized tests.

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 support a review of our curriculum to ensure that our history is taught fairly and through an anti-racist lens. Further, I would support a continued review of the new math curriculum our district has implemented to ensure it remains best suited for our students.

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

I believe our district has a large responsibility in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff. I’ve stated before that I support providing more readily available resources to our students in this area, including access to school psychologists and social workers, I would extend these resources further to staff members.

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

I think our district should implement and continue to support restorative action programs for our students who commit acts in school that would traditionally result in discipline. Further, I think there should be a review of discipline in our schools and the difference in discipline for different students when outside factors may cause variance.

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

In the area of special education, my top priorities are to ensure that our district continues to provide great education to our students with special needs, while encouraging our students to reach past their preconceived abilities.

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

I think our school district has some work to do in working towards achieving equity within our district. I would support a review of how our money is apportioned to different schools in the district based on the number of underserved students enrolled. I would also like a review of how discipline at our school may vary for different students based soley on outside factors such as race. In ensuring that we are providing equitable access to resources in mental healthcare, we will make progress in achieving equity within our school district.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 4, 2020

Lori Ajlouny

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictBirmingham City School District
City:Birmingham

How long have you lived in your district?

40 years

Have you received any endorsements?

MEA, BEA, Fems for Dems

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

As a Birmingham educator, I will offer my 31 years of experience as a teacher, my vast knowledge of our community and BPS to improve the quality of our distinguished district. During this current time my top priority and focus is getting our students and staff back in the classroom safely. This is what I have been working on since March of 2020. I am proud to announce a Return to School Plan that is being passed this week. Being the mother of four children, I know how important it is to invest in education and provide equity for all students. I understand how to work collaboratively to build relationships with educators, parents, and community members. I pledge to serve with transparency, fully informing the public in order to make the best decisions for all stakeholders of our community, and to ensure transparency at all levels to successfully accomplish district mission goals.

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

I have served on the district’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee for the past 22 years. Being a minority myself, I fully understand the meaning of educational justice. To me it means that education justice involves schools and communities that work to provide equitable and adequate distribution of highly qualified teachers who can provide quality instruction, equitable access to educational resources, advanced courses, and a focus on restorative justice to ensure that all students graduate high school.

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

I see many changes for the better happening. I see flexibility in the technological and physical way school is set up and delivered. I see flexible schedules and start and end times change for the improvement of students’ mental health and well being. I see creativity and dedication from our teachers and administrators. I see kindness and inclusion towards all. The pandemic has altered the cubicles or silos where we once worked to where, collaboration becomes a natural form of working together as team.

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

Parents, students and families are one of our most important stakeholders. Working collaboratively with all stakeholders who deserve a voice in shaping our district’s educational future will provide the outcomes we can be proud for our students.

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

My family and friends are my top financial supporters

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

First and foremost I, as a current sitting trustee, have a priority of getting our students back in the classroom for face to face learning. The pandemic of Covid-19 has altered our course and impacted the quality education our children deserve. Second I would place high value on creating a balance between all stakeholders . Third, transparency is a high priority on my list. Being in a position of making decisions for over 8,000 children makes me humble. I want to the community to be fully informed why, how and what decisions are being made that impact their children.

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

1. The right to educational opportunity. Education needs to be challenged and reshaped, giving everyone an opportunity to succeed – from the students, to the educators, to parents, and business community.
No matter where students live, they should have access to the same high-quality educational opportunities as any other student in Michigan deserves. We also have to invest in our teachers. Teachers across the state should have equitable opportunities to learn and excel in their profession no matter where they live and teach.

2. Educational reform: to be successful at becoming a top performing state Michigan must develop a coherent and cohesive strategy for children, and implement that plan with continuity for long term goals. To do this we must implement strategies, use evidence and data to
correct course, and continue with progress on key goals.

3. Expand access to quality publicly-funded preschool for all four-year-olds and three-year-olds by 2024

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 entire year of 2020 has been a challenge for all our students and staff. What I anticipate as a growing challenge is the scenario that we may well return to school in a hybrid school situation and then get move by governor’s orders back to phase 3 where we have to close our schools once again. Our school district has been the first to establish a local group of health care specialists in a committee called the Health Advisory Board who have contributed amazing information using science based data complied into a metric system we use to keep our students and staff safe. BPS has use this advice along with other studies to set and implement safety protocols in every building and educational setting including sports at every measure.

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

That is a very difficult question for me to answer because I have several top spending priorities. I can think of closing the achievement gap and creating equitable opportunities for all kids. I can think of preschool programs to invest in children from the ages of 3 and 4, I can think of safety and security for all students and all schools, then there is the mental health and well being of our future generations, pathways to higher education…….. I am sorry I cannot choose one priority, list above are all high priorities, and I haven’t even finished my list……

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

I think standardized is becoming archaic. One test given each year to measure where a child is or determine what university a student qualifies to enter is not a fair measure of any students’ capabilities and qualifications. Standardized testing is a snapshot of a moment during a test-taking day. What we should be looking at are student portfolios, narratives and essays. They are far better measures into know who a student is and what they are qualified to do.

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 have sat on numerous curriculum committees viewing and piloting new curriculum programs. I am keen to say teacher input is invaluable in these decisions. I would put classroom-running and curriculum-building decisions in the hands of the schools with input from the community. What I would keep is the rubric we have used to guide us in our choices listed below:
Learning how to build our Curriculum
Describe our vision, focus, objectives, and student needs.
Identify resources.
Develop experiences that meet our objectives.
Collect and devise materials.
Lock down the specifics of our task.
Develop plans, methods, and processes.
Create our students’ experience.

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

For both students and staff, schools offer an ideal context for prevention, intervention, positive development, and regular communication between school and families. School-employed professionals like school psychologists, school counselors, school social workers know the students, parents, and other staff, which contributes to accessibility of services. In fact, research has shown that students are more likely to seek counseling when services are available in schools.
In our district we have taken measures such as these, for both students and staff:
Encourage Social Time.
Schedule in 30 minutes or an hour every week where students can be social and focus on something other than the curriculum. …
Run Lunchtime Clubs. …
Have an Open-Door Policy where students can seek out an adult to talk.
Make Mental Health known not as a negative stigma but a condition to be treated like any other illness
Organize a Wellness Week.

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

One simple answer, provide security of course but more importantly invest money and training in restorative justice practices.

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

The purpose of special education is to enable students to successfully develop to their fullest potential by providing a free appropriate public education in compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) They have established four goals for students with educational needs:
1. Equal opportunity
2. Full participation
3. Independent living
4. Economic self-sufficiency

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

Educational equity is a required condition of justice, fairness, and inclusion, and it must be embedded into the education system, at all levels, to ensure that students have access to rich educational opportunities and can meet their fullest potential. In order to achieve equity a district must create these goals:
1. Design-Limit early tracking and streaming and postpone academic selection.
2. Practices-Identify and provide systematic help to those who fall behind at school and reduce grade retention.
3. Resourcing-Provide strong education for all, giving priority to early childhood provision and basic schooling.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I believe my tenure as a board trustee allows me to hit the ground running if I am re-elected and maintain a semblance of continuity. This will save time from the learning curve needed for such tough decisions especially in today’s crisis of the Covid pandemic.

October 4, 2020

Luke Joseph

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictBirmingham City School District
City:Birmingham

How long have you lived in your district?

4 Years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to make a difference and give back to the community. As a father of 2 boys in the system, I understand how important education is and I want Birmingham Schools to be #1 not just in Michigan, but in the Nation.

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

It means that everyone is treated equally and fairly with no exceptions. In our district it means to open the doors to everyone, to educate our current staff and students about the various issues (Racism, all forms of Discrimination, Bullying, etc.)

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

I can imagine a constant temperature checking, creative ways to lower the number of students in each class so they can be fairly separated, sanitizing public space, restrooms, etc. on regular schedules, and constantly reminding students and parents to report any illness and have the backup online Zoom class for students to join just incase they are abscent.

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

All families should be provided an opportunity to voice their input on decisions relevant to the school; we need to hear from the families and what they think. Providing opportunities for them to be involved is critical and engaging the parents to be involved is very important.

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

Myself

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

#1 to provide stronger education in our district and to find a way to make Birmingham #1 school District. For example, offer International Baccalaureate. #2 Safety for students and families. Safety includes Bullying, Discrimination, etc. as well. Offer education and support for our students as well as a watch program to secure the physical safety of students and parents. #3 Teachers/Parents involvement. There needs to be more communication between teachers and parents, not just in conferences. Offer feedback on constant basis, offer opportunities for involvement for parents.

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

#1 No political party should be involved in any level of education in our state. These positions should be balanced between different backgrounds and different stands on issues so true good decisions good be made. #2 Discuss with other states that have higher education standards than Michigan and see where they went right so we can follow and make it better for all of us., #3 Budgeting, raising the taxes is not always the answer. Find ways to raise money for the schools and even establish a tax deduction for families who contribute to public schools.

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?

Going virtual is challenging to everyone; students, teachers and parents alike. The school can provide a schedule for certain students to attend at various times for example, offer sanitizers, measure temperatures, less students in each class, students stay in the one classroom and have teachers come to them to lower the hallway interaction, offer to go food only.

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

Textbooks and material should #1, after all education is #1 priority and we need to make sure that offer the best of the best. What should not be prioritized is contracted services and revisit that budget and make sure it is within the means of our overall goals

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

It is important to have a standardized test; however, it should not be the main factor for acceptance into a college or a university. It is important to have some measure for students to go by and to prepare them for the future.

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 definitely start an International Baccalaureate program in our schools. I would offer opportunity for Elementary students to take Middle School subjects, Middle School Students to take High School subject so they can prepared for what is next for them. What I would keep the same is the various coursework requirements for each grade.

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

They need to offer full time Social Worker who is readily available with open door policy and keeping everything confidential. Educate students and parents alike to let them know that we have resources for everyone. Offer a buddy system for students so no one is every left behind or feels alone.

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

Stuff like Graffiti, Bullying, bring weapons to school should definitely be disciplined strongly and in some instances even to expel them from the whole district. We need to monitor the crowd especially in the start and the end of the school day; create a neighborhood watch, have police cars go around the building and walk the building throughout the day.

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

Special education is critical and to offer top notch teachers and resources to support them as well. These children should be involved, creating sports activities for them would be great, having other students support them and earn a credit in return, they need to be involved and feel welcomed at all times.

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

Education the parents, students and teachers about how important equity is and open the doors for everyone alike, no exceptions. Maintaining the health and safety of students, staff and the community; maximizing students learning; supporting teachers and staff, getting a sound financial foundation. The needs of the most vulnerable must be met at all times.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am a father of 2 boys in the district, an Accountant, former instructor in a University, I know what it takes to have the best education and safety of everyone. A vote for me is a vote for your child. Your Children are my #1 priority.
Vote for Luke Joseph on November 3, Birmingham School Board

October 4, 2020

Luke Joseph

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictBirmingham City School District
City:Birmingham

How long have you lived in your district?

4 Years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

Improve Education standards, security of students and teachers and parents involvement

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

It means everyone who seeks it gets it equally. No discrimination of any kind. In our district it means the same and of course having an open door policy.

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

Lower amount of students in class, hybrid forms of teaching, sanitization throughout, and continue monitoring students and staff for symptoms.

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

Everyone is important. We need to hear from everyone and address all the concerns. Major decisions should involve everyone in the district if possible.

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

Myself

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

Improve the standards of education, bringing International Baccalaureate, offer support to students and parents at all times.

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

Improve the standards of education, revisit our budget to see how we can help all of the districts, initiative to hire the best teachers in the country.

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?

Virtual learning is the biggest challenge, it is affecting the mental health of the students. Keeping people six feet apart, wearing masks, wash hands, monitor temperatures, educate the public; these will help keeping everyone safe.

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

Top spending priority should be our textbook materials and how we can get the best. The not so prioritized budget item would be supplies since we can ask for donations for that.

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

They should play an important role, however, they should not be the ONLY thing to look at when its time to go to college.

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?

Bringing International Baccalaureate program. I would keep the current standards for foreign languages.

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

Mental Health is critical and need to hire full time Social Worker/Therapist to be available to everyone in confidence for support. We need to inform everyone that our doors are open and we are here to help you.

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

Handle it professionally and appropriately to the offense. If someone has weapon, immediate suspension; on the other hand if someone uses foul language would get a write up in their records. We need to protect students from Racism, Bullying, Discrimination and other unwanted issues that are similar.

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

Special education students are usually neglected. We need to have them being involved in things like sports, clubs, etc. Develop a buddy system where every Special Need child has a buddy or two to support them. They need to feel welcomed and part of the team.

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

Achieving equity starts with education of everyone from parents, students to teachers and staff. We need to have everyone aware of their surroundings nd make sure they understand the diversity our society has.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Making Birmingham #1 school district and protecting your children is why I am running. A vote for me is a vote for your child.

October 4, 2020

Samuel Oh

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictBirmingham City School District
City:Birmingham

How long have you lived in your district?

8 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

From 2019-2020, both my elementary sons were victims of racism at school that went unabated. Ironically, at the time my son’s Kindergarten class was more than 40% minority, 2/3 of those Asian-American. However, there are no Asian principals, superintendents, or Board of Education members in the BPS system. Nothing ever changes without numbers and representation at the highest levels, not just tokenism. Leadership needs to reflect today’s reality of class diversity to purposefully defend equality.

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

To me, education justice means that all children are treated equally and afforded an opportunity to succeed. In the context of the Birmingham School District, this would mean accurate racial representation at the executive leadership levels.

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

A technology device would be in the hands of every student, regardless of their economic status. This would allow for us to pivot between on premise and virtual school models depending on the health climate. It would also provide the foundational technology skills that are needed in this digital era.

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

I would advocate for more public surveys on major decisions. After conducted, these surveys would require an action plan if more than a pre-determined percentage of the community desires a certain result. I would also propose the creation of a high school student association that would represent their peers and having a voting voice in key decisions. This would not only give our students a voice but also teach them how to become a voting member of society that practices civic duty.

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

There are no financial supporters for my campaign. I have no political agenda and only care for what makes sense for our schools and children.

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

Firstly, recent events have shown that Birmingham Public Schools is woefully ill prepared for the technology future. When COVID-19 first hit, virtual learning was an embarrassment. Even now, glitches persist, hindering our students’ education and putting Michigan’s schools further at risk of falling behind in national rankings. I would champion for an immediate technology revamp.

Second, the public school systems need to be laser-focused on growing population density. As the public schools have to increasingly compete with private schools, I would advocate for purposeful and strategic steps to achieve population density. If not, our local school districts will become a diminishing asset, over-staffed and underfunded.

Finally, executive school leadership and oversight has to proportionally reflect the reality of the incoming student body – 50% women, minority representation, etc. If elected I would look to correct this underrepresentation in our district.

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

I believe that school finance should be the top priority at the state level. Without proper funding and financial management, none of the other priorities can be properly addressed. Next, school safety is paramount during this COVID pandemic time. Finally, the state should focus on teaching quality. Michigan has been declining in test rankings of late and focus needs to be placed to ensure high quality education for our students.

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?

While establishing clear guidelines and safety protocols can be done, enforcing these may be challenging in a time when people’s beliefs and opinions on how to combat the virus differ. The schools must be united in fighting the pandemic, taking best practices and procedures that have been proven successful in hospitals and corporations.

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

The school district needs to focus on technology – tablets, laptops, and high quality software and applications. We also need to spend to create safe social distancing and a sanitary learning environment. This is also a time when many of our families are financially challenged. Therefore our district should spend less time on fundraising and focus more on cost savings measures.

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

Standardized test should remain – otherwise benchmarking is not possible. However, we also need supplemental measurement methods as well. Not all students are good test takers and intelligence has many dimensions.

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?

Ironically, data has shown that by focusing more on math and reading, this has actually caused our educational level decline versus improving it. Rudimentary reading and math skills will not develop reading comprehension. Our students need to go back to spending more time learning about science, history, and the arts. A deep and wide knowledge base is required as a foundation for reading comprehension. This will also improve student engagement as they can explore and discover what they are interested in. I would suggest establishing a reading program where our students choose and explore from a carefully teacher-curated option of books. By implementing this program by virtually incorporating technology, we can enable instantaneous choice. As for what I would keep the same would be testing and grading.

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

The school absolutely has responsibility in this. It should be a two pronged approached. We should weave healthy thought processes and techniques in managing life’s challenges into the curriculum. Our teachers should also be caring for the whole student, emotionally, mentally, and educationally. This way we can get ahead of a potential problem before it occurs. The second prong should be making available appropriate counseling for both students and staff. Partnering with local health institutions could also provide alternative avenues for subsidized professional behavioral health.

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

All incidents need to be recorded and documented, without exception. There is a tendency to brush off incidents to avoid conflict and correction. By making incidents public we enforce accountability and discourage deviance thus promoting a safer environment.

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

We need to strive towards maximum enrollment for our schools so that we can adequately fund our special education programs. As previously mentioned, this requires population density.

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

Technology is the great equalizer. I can not stress its importance. In today’s digital age, by providing adequate technology to each student we provide the same foundation for educational success.

Any other information you want to include or share?

With my family moving Birmingham in 2013, I consider myself more a recent resident. I have no political agenda and only care for what makes sense for our schools and children. With my corporate background and family of teachers, professors, veterans, healthcare professionals, and technology executives, I hope to bring new perspective, positive change, and tap into valuable best-case practices from other successful industries.