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    2020 School Board Candidates

    Southfield Public Schools

October 4, 2020

Yvette Ware-DeVaull

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictSouthfield Public Schools
City:Southfield/Lathrup

How long have you lived in your district?

20

Have you received any endorsements?

no

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to bring a voice to the children of Southfield. I want to ensure that the District has the right person sitting at the negotiations table that will give the same resources and tools need for our children to level the field of education.

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

Education is a right. The right to learn and be taught what it takes to succeed at whatever that may look like on any individual basis. But it is our right!

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

If I could imagine what that would look.. It would be a plan to help and supply financial resources to the schools. Pay the teachers as if they were playing a sport. Increasing the use of technology as if it were the new stadium for the players to compete. For the politicians to stop giving excuses as to why they take days off and work hard on leveling these standardize tests. Have legislation provide financial support for the parents to secure tutoring where needed. It looks like the children in my district on a fast track plan. That is a question that makes me afraid if we do not have the right support and direction.

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

I have participated on the PTA for over 15 years. I served on the local PTA level as an officer the last 4 years. I am now 2nd Vice Chair on National Pta Area Council. I say all that to say Yes! Parents, Teachers, Students, Residence all deserve to have a voice. Voices are always vital to making educational decisions, but it takes the Board and the Superintendent to make a holistic decision with NO agenda other than the betterment of education for the students.

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

None

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

Top priority 1. Continue to build resources that will offer emotional support for the children. 2. Curriculum – I want to make sure we have a stable curriculum that can offer longevity that will be delivered with excellence from instructors. 3. I want to work with the board and stakeholders on a strategy to ramp the children up after covid to a better educational level.

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

State Level 1. Address the issue of standardize testing and the need for different testing criteria. 2. Reading by 1st grade and address how and if hold back is necessary. There is sometimes a much bigger picture in the life of a child than what is seen through the ability to read.3. The resources and how they are being allocated between public, charter and private.

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 challenges that I think our children will face because of covid is a slip with education and the expectation of grade versus testing. I think our children will suffer in the major components of reading and math. Face to Face interaction is huge for a child to learn and work with a level of trust from their teacher. Most, need the discipline, excitement, and all those other warm feelings that go with being in the building. I think my district needs the financial support to hire, source and secure the person(s) needed to make it covid proof. I am confident that my district is smart and diligent with what we have to work in the best interest of the children.

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

Top priority should be platforms that work well in this virtual world of covid, emotional and social support for students and parents. What is not as important- IT ALL IS. What is at the bottom- extra curriculum activities need a pause. Just for a short time. Focus on reading, math.

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

Standardized test should play no role today.

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 can not speak to the platform that has just been implemented. Still new.

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

As I have mentioned, social and emotional are vital. Our district must keep a pulse on the children and parents during this difficult time. Emotion instability is real and should not be swept under the rug as if it does not exist. Without the suppport a child can not thrive.

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

Discipline is difficult. Not all concerns warrant the same action. I do believe in no tolerance policy. But as a people who have always had less, we must take care of each other and the things that take of us. I think the district already works hard to have a safe place for students. We must secure more grants and financially resources to implement other person(s) and technology.

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

The top priorities in my district are to make sure that any students that special needs, have continued learning and support. There is some realignment leadership at different facilities. Continuing support from District Psychologist and direction.

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

My district are making moves to position themselves at the table in Lansing. I want to be apart of the demand for equality. The Superintendent was on a task force formed by Governor.

Any other information you want to include or share?

No not at this time. Where will this be written or captured?

October 4, 2020

Amani Johnson

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictSouthfield Public Schools
City:Southfield

How long have you lived in your district?

24 years

Have you received any endorsements?

School Board President Charles Hicks, School Board Secretary Leslie L. Smith-Thomas, School Board Trustee Yolanda S. Charles, Southfield Mayor Ken Siver, Southfield City Council President Lloyd Crews, Southfield City Councilman Jason Hoskins, Southfield City Councilman Michael “Ari” Mandelbaum, Southfield City Councilman Daniel Brightwell, Southfield City Councilwoman Tawnya Morris, Southfield City Councilwoman Linnie Taylor, Southfield City Councilwoman Nancy Banks Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, Dem Oakland County Sheriff Nominee Vince Gregory, Michigan State Representative Kyra Bolden, Michigan State Senator Jeremy Moss, Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Michigan’s Mighty 14th District Democrat’s, MDP Black Caucus, LGBT Victory Fund, and Run For Something.

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I’m running for School Board because when I was in high school, we faced many of the same challenges that our schools do now: crumbling infrastructure that forces kids to sit in hot classrooms or miss school altogether, suspensions and missed days of school due to dress code or other minor infractions, and a tightening budget that limits academic and extracurricular options for our children.

Our agenda is focused on attracting more families to the school district, building a better relationship with the Southfield City Council, and increasing district revenue. I will work to create a city-wide internship and jobs program for our young residents, invest in green infrastructure to save taxpayer dollars, and diversify academic/extracurricular programs to keep our students on the same playing field as those in surrounding districts.

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

Education Justice means everyone gets access to a quality education no matter their age and background. Southfield accepts students from throughout the Detroit area and has the resources to support our special education kids, so Education Justice is already being practiced.

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

We need more social workers and mental health professionals. We also need to make sure parents and students are aware how to utilize these resources.

It will also be vital to change the way schools are funded in Michigan. Michigan’s school funding system is not adequate or equitable. The Michigan legislature should make fully funding our education system their first budgeting priority every cycle.

I would send more money to districts with special needs and disadvantaged students. Local school boards should be required to work closely with teachers, parents, and community leaders to determine goals they hope to achieve with their funding. The state shouldn’t just evaluate test scores, but the level of parent involvement, student engagement, and what the school environment is like. The state shouldn’t just evaluate test scores, but the level of parent involvement, student engagement, and what the school environment is like.

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

Local school boards should be required to work closely with teachers, parents, and community leaders to determine goals they hope to achieve with their funding. There should also be more public opportunities for community members to see and ask questions of their local school board members. I’ll host regular community meetings to listen to input from our families and constituents.

I also support the creation of student and parent advisory boards to advise on the curriculum, use of schools police, decisions about instructional practices, discipline and classroom more minutes, and extracurricular programs.

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

My parents, Jeanette and Antwine Johnson

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

Increase diversity in academic programs, including languages and financial literacy options.

Create a city-wide internship and jobs program to connect young people to internships, jobs, and opportunities in the skilled trades.

Create a Grants office, responsible for applying for grants and sponsorships on behalf of students, teachers, administrators, and the school district as a whole.

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

Lobby State Legislators to get a funding increase for Southfield Public Schools and making fully funding public schools the Legislature’s first budget priority every cycle.

Require school boards to work closely with teachers, parents, and community leaders to determine goals they hope to achieve with their funding.

More state investment in new school buildings and infrastructure improvements.

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?

SPS is fully virtual, so I expect some mental health challenges. I would partner with businesses to give every student access to therapy and mental health applications (e.g. Talkspace) while they are learning virtually. 1-1 counseling from a licensed therapist would be available from a cell phone or computer.

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

Our funding priorities should be paying our teachers a living wage, academic and mental health resources for students, and investing in unique opportunities to generate revenue. Investing in solar energy will save taxpayer dollars and help fight the effects of climate change. I believe we need to use some of our funding for in school security officers, who spend most of their time disciplining students, to hire mental health professionals and social workers.

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

Standardized testing has failed our students. Teachers are being forced to teach a test instead of molding creative human beings. We are teaching kids, some unsuccessfully, how to take a test instead of preparing them to be productive adults. If I had it my way, we would create individualized plans based upon what learning style works best for each student. Education cannot be a one size fits all approach. The state shouldn’t just evaluate test scores, but the level of parent involvement, student engagement, and what the school environment is like.

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 add more options for our students. Reflecting on all of the things I’ve had to learn on my own since graduating high school, we should be teaching kids financial literacy: how to file their taxes, budgeting, savings, debt, investing, and giving. I would also like to diversify languages and athletic programs being offered.

Additionally, I’d like to see us teaching about marginalized groups in class (e.g. Black History) year round.

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

The district’s mental health support does not meet the needs of our students. We need more social workers and mental health professionals. We also need to make sure parents and students are aware how to utilize these resources. I’m disappointed to have not heard much about stepping up mental health related services as families navigate this pandemic. I would partner with businesses to give every student access to therapy and mental health applications (e.g. Talkspace) while they are learning virtually. 1-1 counseling from a licensed therapist would be available from a cell phone or computer. When I was a student, there weren’t any emotional or mental health resources available to us in school. This would make a significant impact.

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

Southfield Public Schools should stop suspending students for minor infractions like dress code violations, arguments, or being on their phones. We should implement restorative justice policies that empower students to resolve conflicts on their own. The idea is that students take their actions more seriously when being confronted by their peers and will be more cognizant of how these actions have negatively impacted their communities.

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

I’d like to make sure that every general education teacher has the tools to support their special education students, instead of relying solely on special education staff. Studies show that students thrive in an environment where their general education teachers take primary responsibility for their learning,

We should also be providing additional instruction time on a daily basis to students who need it. I’d like to keep on the additional tutors hired during this pandemic.

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

It’s important to be equitable in order to ensure the success of every student in our district. I’ll work to Implement a Universal Free Lunch policy for every student at every school.

Creating a parent and student advisory board.

Any other information you want to include or share?

October 4, 2020

Michael Poole

Pronouns:Michael Pool
School DistrictSouthfield Public Schools
City:Southfield

How long have you lived in your district?

25 Years

Have you received any endorsements?

None at this time

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I like assisting our student community with achieve their life goals.

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

EDUCATION Justice insures equity in all educational communities. No matter where you live, or who you are. Everyone has the same access to education tools and resources as everyone else.

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

After COVI-19 we will have a Hybrid Educational System. We will be delivering combination of face-to-face as well as virtual online offering to our students. Giving the schools of the future more options and more choice.

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

The Parent, Teacher, Family and Students along with the Board of Education should all be apart of the educational planning for their students.

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

None at this time

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

My top three (3) Priority Issues facing the Southfield Public School District Board of Education included the following:

1) Keeping students, teachers, administrators, staff and parents safe during COVID-19. This may be accomplished by closely following the advice and guidelines from the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control as well as other local, state and federal agencies on Health and Wellness.

2) Provide multiple modes of teaching and instruction for maximum learning. The mode of instruction will be based on the science in the region. This may also be adjusted by zip code, building, floor and/ or classroom.

3) Administer a safe yet impactful educational pedagogical learning experience by offering a rigorous high quality learning environment that leads to impactful student achievement for student success.

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

1. More State School Aid Funding, 2. A More Equitable Way to Funding Students with special needs, 3. A Zoning Ordinance for Charter 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?

We anticipate challenges in providing multiple modes of teaching and instruction for maximum learning. The mode of instruction will be based on the science in the region. This may also need to be adjusted based on the infection rates by zip code, building, floor and/ or classroom. This will be determined by the Health Authority.

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

Salaries are always the largest part of the Budget followed closely by Healthcare cost. What should not be prioritized in this years District Budget would be Transportation.

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

Standardized Testing give us a gage on how our Students Processing on an annual bases.

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?

Our current School District Curriculum is accredited and meets the MDE requirements. We are one of only six K12 Public School District in State that have earned this type of Advanced Accreditation. However, I would add more Black History instruction.

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

We need more funding and support from the federal Government to support student, teachers and staff through the Individuals with Disability Education Act which has never been fully funded.

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

The Student Code of Conduct was developed to provide a safe place for students and staff develop safely. The primary goal of the Southfield School District is
to create a positive learning environment in which all students are provided an opportunity to grow academically and socially. In order to attain this goal there must be a shared commitment among parents, staff and students to understand and accept a balance between individual freedom and the limitations of responsible behavior.

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

To advocate for more funding from the Federal Governments IDEA Laws.

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

To take full advantage of the opportunity presented by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). It is critical to abandon the thinking that led to previous failed reforms and embrace a new mindset regarding the more promising strategies to improve schools.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My name is Michael Poole and I am a current Member of the Southfield Public Schools Board of Education and have been for the last 12 years.

I entered the Southfield Board of Education with a “Yes We Can” approach to Leadership at the beginning of the great recession. I have served as Board President, Vice President and Treasurer.

My vision is to provide a servant business management leadership philosophy in developing cost effective solutions that offer greater college and career workforce opportunities for students. The focus is on design, collaboration and implementation of quality accredited educational programs that meet the economic and educational goals of our community.

I have spent over twenty five (25) years in Corporate America with AT&T, GTE Sprint and MCI/ WorldCom.

Currently, I work as an Education Consultant in Higher Education in the areas of Business, Continuing Education, Technology and Workforce Development.

I, hold academic credentials from the following institutions of higher learning:

ü Associate Degrees in General Education, Marketing/ Retail Advertising and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business from Ferris State University Big Rapids, Michigan.

ü Masters of Science (MSA) Degree in International Administration from the Central Michigan University Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

I am a member of the Economic Club of Detroit, a Master Platinum member of the Michigan Association of School Boards, a founding member of the Southfield Public Schools Foundation, a member of the National Black Council for School Boards, a Lifetime Member of the National Black MBA Association, a Lifetime Member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated and a former PTA President.

I am a visionary Leader with an in-depth desire to help people find quality education, careers, jobs, housing and their piece of the American Dream…

October 4, 2020

Ashanti Bland

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictSouth Lake Schools
City:Lathrup Village

How long have you lived in your district?

35 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes Yolanda Smith Charles

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to be a school board member to ensure that stakeholders and the children of the Southfield Public School district have a school system that encourages unity between the stakeholders, teachers and administration.

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

Education justice means that school districts and communities have fair and equitable funding not just adequate funding. For Southfield Public Schools (SPS) this means that SPS will continue to provide highly qualified teachers, quality instruction and provide high quality resources and teachers to our special needs students and students with IEP’s.

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

Schools would once again have a school nurse on staff. Touchless hand sanitizing stations would be posted in schools in high traffic areas such as the main hallways at entrances and exits, the main office, cafeteria, and gym; as well as on the playground. Students temperature’s would be taken before being admitted into the classroom to ensure that children with fevers are not socializing with other children and parents would be notified and requested to pick their children up from school if a child is found to have an elevated temperature.

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

Parents, students and families should be engaged consistently and with purpose. Encouraging more surveys and discussions with the families and students these discussions should not just take place with the administration but the teachers and Principals as well.

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

Friends and family

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

The primary issues of my campaign are health and safety for students and staff, enhancing parent engagement and allocating resources appropriately to propel the incline of student test scores in the district. To solidify SPS as a key Public School District in the state which will aid the state’s goal of becoming a Top 10 education state in 10 years. Health and safety for SPS students during this pandemic is a top priority. Regular assessments of the districts communication tools through district surveys and phone calls will increase engagement and allow for more fiscal accountability of district funds.

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

To ensure that funding is provided according to student need. To reach the goal of becoming a top 10 education sate in 10 years. Provide not just adequate but fair equitable funding to all Michigan school districts.

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?

SPS district is currently 100% virtual which means that our biggest challenge is ensuring that our children are getting the education that they deserve. Assessing how efficient virtual school is for our students and assessing whether or not the tools and resources that the administration has acquired are working will be one of the biggest challenges. Assessing both of these issues will help to ensure that what schools are currently doing is working and that the funding used to purchase the tools and resources is money well spent. It also will indicate opportunities for improvement within the district’s virtual learning plan. SPS district has provided families the opportunity to select the option to have children attend a hybrid based program once the state reaches Phase five of the safe start plan. The hybrid based learning will present SPS with the second challenge and that is ensuring the safety of both students and staff while they are in person learning. The district will have to inform both families and staff on protocols, guidelines and health and safety measures that are in place while in school and on buses. The district will need to train staff on proper use of cleaning supplies i.e. disinfectants and sanitizing solutions also what the protocols will be for any child suspected of being sick. The district will also need to obtain the items recommended by the CDC and the state’s school advisory council before school doors open back up for in person instruction.

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

Instruction- ensuring that SPS attains and retains the best and most qualified teachers, and para professionals
Health and Safety- ensuring that SPS has the proper resources and measures in place to keep staff and students safe.
Curriculum- Ensuring that SPS has the best curriculum and instructional materials to provide our students with up to date knowledge and skills.
Under the current situation Transportation should not be a high priority in our district.

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

Standardized tests should be used as one of many ways to identify a child’s strengths and weaknesses.

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?

A more STEM based curriculum, more communication/transparency with the parents about the curriculum especially when changes occur. I would keep the reading curriculum the same. SPS district’s reading curriculum encourages reading and writing about different genres and it engages the students to engage in discussions about the text which allows better comprehension.

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

The SPS school district has the responsibility to prioritize well being in education through finding innovative ways to connect families and staff with support services such as health promoting learning resources, school social workers and psychologists. The district also has a responsibility to ensure that partnerships extend to health care organizations and county health offices.

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

The SPS school district should handle student discipline by looking for effective alternatives to help student behavior and hold students accountable for their actions and also support their development. By using suspensions and expulsions as last resorts of punishment for students with extreme offenses the culture of discipline can be changed from that of removal and punishment to teaching and developing social and behavioral skills that will produce students that positively impact society and their communities.

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

Students with special needs in SPS district has always been of the highest priority in the district. I would like to ensure that the level of attention paid to our families with special needs students remains a top priority by ensuring that our district follows IDEA core principles. Another top priority is providing the resources at home that parents need for children with Individualized Education Plans and that their children are able to meet the goals that are identified while learning at home.

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

SPS district should strive to use funding to meet its students needs especially our low income students and students with special needs. We must be transparent about how funds are being used and how they will impact students education experience and outcomes. In order to be equitable the students needs must be assessed, the data must be collected and analyzed.

Any other information you want to include or share?