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?