October 4, 2020
School DistrictEast Lansing Public Schools
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
Ingham County Educators’ PAC, Kath Edsall – Current Board member
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
I want each student to receive a high quality education that is reflective of the changing world. I think that more money should be spent on staff to ensure that we retain and attract high quality educators. In addition, I want to support ELPS’ work on race, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
Education justice is when equity is the core tenet of every action, policy, and program within a school district.
As an ELPS school board member, education justice means that a student receives a high quality education and opportunities regardless of where they live in the district. It means ensuring that students of color don’t end up in 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 that an increase in the number of staff to make classes smaller would be important considering our current public health crisis. Also, hiring more custodial staff would help with sanitation. I also think having teachers solely dedicated to virtual students would also be necessary. I think assigning students to cohorts or pods would limit the amount of interaction students and staff would have.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
I think that there should be regular townhalls with ELPS Board members that parents, families, and community members could attend. I think there also should be parent and student liaison positions that would participate in Board discussions.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
Self, friends, and family
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
– Support and enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
– Support appropriation of resources to expand hiring pool
– Expand partnerships with community stakeholders
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
– Increase in public school funding
– Repeal laws restricting bargaining around prohibited topics (lay off, recall, and evaluation)
– Increase in funding for CTE, STEM, and special education programs
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 one challenge is ensuring that staff have the tools to deliver high quality instruction considering that not every student has access to the internet and many require a device for virtual instruction because they don’t have one at home. I think that making sure that students are having their socioemotional needs met is important since they are not at school right now.
I think that ELPS is doing the right thing for student and staff safety by makin instruction virtual. I think that when students do return, ELPS must have appropriate safety protocols in place and work closely with the county health department. In addition, I think that ELPS must communicate safety measures to the parents and community.
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 that retaining and recruiting the highest quality staff should be one of ELPS’ top priorities. When staff are compensated well, they are more likely to stay. I also think that each student should have a laptop or IPad assigned to them at the beginning of each year that they can use throughout the school year.
I don’t think ELPS should waste money on consultants when often they have experts in house.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
I don’t think that standardized tests should play any role in a school district. They are not a true indicator of what a student knows or how well a teacher can teach.
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 think that all students should be required to take a course on implicit bias in addition to what they are already learning. I think ELPS has a rigorous curriculum that could be adapted to students’ needs and recognizes varying cultures and backgrounds.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
I think ELPS has a great responsibility in supporting students’ and staff’s mental and emotional well-being. School can be a very stressful place for students and staff alike and providing those services at and through school can be very beneficial for everyone.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
– Training for all staff in conflict resolution
– Training for all staff in implicit bias
– Teaching students meditation skills and have a dedicated space for meditation
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
– Staff directed special education professional development
– Increase funding to recruit and retain high quality special education staff
– Invest in training for parents to facilitate understanding of special education programs
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
ELPS has done much work around addressing inequities. There is more work to done, specifically around race. East Lansing Public Schools needs to hire more teachers and administrators of color.
Any other information you want to include or share?
I am a former middle school teacher. I have a Master of Education in Educational Leadership. I am a union representative for the Michigan Education Association.