October 4, 2020

Claudia Heinrich

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictFarmington Public School District
City:Farmington Hills

How long have you lived in your district?

45 years

Have you received any endorsements?

yes, MEA

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I am a 45 year resident of Farmington Hills, graduate of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a BA in Education and Eastern Michigan University with a Masters Degree in Mathematics. Education has always been a passion of mine; in 2015 I retired after a 40 year career teaching high school mathematics at Riverside High School in North Dearborn Heights, Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, and Stevenson High School in Livonia. In addition to teaching high school, I taught mathematics at Oakland Community College and Schoolcraft College. I have been married to my husband, Dave Heinrich, for 45 years; together we raised 4 daughters who attended Farmington Public Schools from preschool through high school graduation. Two of my daughters live in Farmington Hills my grandchildren attend Farmington Public Schools.
I am running for the school board so that I may continue my dedicated life-long work with education, giving back to this great community that has given so much to me and my family.

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

Education justice to me means an equitable access to education for all students. It means providing a solid curriculum that addresses the needs of all learners in the district. It means insuring that lessons in teaching tolerance and social justice are included across the curriculum at every grade level. It means a strong literacy program that includes reading materials that reflect a diverse student population.

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

Schools filled with children attending class in person every day, all day. After school activities and sports.

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

The school district should include parents, students and community members along with school district personnel on district wide committees such as the shared vision committee, committee on racial equity. Any major changes in building allocations, school boundaries should involve community input.

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

I do not have any financial supporters.

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

1. Ensure a safe learning environment for students and staff. Violence, school shootings, bullying, racism and now the COVID-19 pandemic are all challenges that our students are faced with. Ensuring that the school district invests in the resources and training for all staff to support the social emotional needs of the students is a must.
2. A solid curriculum that addresses the needs of all learners in the school district; ensuring that every student leave our school district with a post secondary plan to be successful in life, whether it is entering the work force, trade school, 4 year college, 2 year college, certificate programs or the military.
3. Insuring that lessons in teaching tolerance and social justice are included across the curriculum – reading, language arts, social studies, civics, history, science and health – at every grade level along with a strong literacy program that includes reading materials to reflect a diverse student population.

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

1. That the state will support school districts so that all students have access to high-quality instruction regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, economic status, native language, or physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities.
2. That the state will support teachers with opportunities for professional development to help them meet the needs of all learners in their schools.
3. That the state will provide equitable school funding.

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

The biggest challenge is the health and safety of students and staff. At this time the Farmington School District has made the decision to begin the school year with a virtual learning platform. This decision was carefully made based on the data available. It is important to constantly monitor the data and make adjustments to bringing back students to in person learning when it is safe to do so. It must also provide the option for continued virtual learning for families that are not comfortable with in person learning until the COVID virus is no longer a threat. When bringing back students to in person it must be able to assess each group of learners, bringing back students that have the most to lose from the virtual platform such as the special needs students, rather than trying to make a one size fits all decision.

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

The top spending priorities should be costs that are associated with education of students – salaries for teachers & support staff, anything associated with curriculum. Counselors, social workers, social emotional support experts and special education services should have high priority. Building maintenance, making sure buildings are safe is also a priority. I honestly do not know of any costs associated with operating a school district that should be a priority.

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

Standardized tests give the school district a measure of how the students in the district are performing. A good independent test should be just that, a measure of student performance so the school district can adjust the curriculum to make sure that the students are leaving the district with the tools to succeed in the next level of their life, whether it be college, entering the workforce, trade school, technical school or the military. The tests should not drive the curriculum, but rather a solid curriculum should prepare students for an objective measure of their learning.

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 make sure that lessons in teaching tolerance and social justice are included across the curriculum – reading, language arts, social studies, civics, history, science and health- at every grade level. I would make sure that textbooks are used that do not have racial bias. I would also like to see that a financial literacy course is included.

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

Mental and emotional health/ well-being are essential for students to be able to learn and reach their full potential and teachers to be able to teach. I believe that school counselors, social workers and psychiatrists should be accessible in every building. I also believe that a mentoring program for at risk students should be a priority.

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

The first step is a student code of conduct that is developed with input from all stakeholders – teachers, parents, students and administrators. The second step is continued professional development for all staff. Intervention specialists with a mediation program that is student led. Open and transparent communication with parents, also support programs for parents and families are all part of creating a community where students feel welcome, safe and their voices are heard.

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

A strong special education program is important. Investment in staff and training to meet the needs of all special education students is important.

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

I think that the Farmington School District is moving in the right direction with a
Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion but there is much work to be done. The district just adopted a resolution addressing racism with 10 action steps. I strongly believe that there must be involvement at every level in the community in order for true equity to be realized.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My experience as a teacher, parent and grandparent has given me a wealth of experience to draw upon in understanding how to best serve the needs of the school district as they move forward in changing times. Serving as a member of the school board gives me a voice in maintaining the high quality standards that the Farmington School District is known for.