October 4, 2020

Daniel Colling

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictLake Shore Public Schools
City:St. Clair Shores

How long have you lived in your district?

26 years

Have you received any endorsements?

To-date: Macomb County Democratic Committee

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to continue my service to this community and our school district. I am an advocate for public education and I am committed to playing my role in providing the best possible educational experience for our students.

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

Education justice to me means that every child has access to quality education regardless of zip code, household income, race, or any other factor. It means a progressive school funding model that leads to true equity. In the context of my district, it means valuing our teachers, maintaining an inclusive environment, and centering equity in everything that we do.

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

I imagine community schools where children and caregivers have access to wrap-around supports that enhance the quality of education and life in general. Technology would be better integrated in a way that supplements and enhances educational offerings, using district staff to leverage these opportunities. Teachers are able to administer project based learning in a meaningful way and testing is done sparingly, but vastly different from the current standardized tests.

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

Our community should be at the center of everything we do. From our strategic planning to our Return to Learn plan, we involved parents, students, and the greater community to ensure we had their feedback and input. I am very proud of how our district prioritizes community collaboration.

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

I am self-funded and have a reporting waiver as I do not intend to raise more than $1,000.

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

1) COVID response – health and safety, maintain strong academic programming whether hybrid or virtual.
2) Project based learning – promoting innovation when it comes to the delivery of instruction. We’ve made a lot of great progress, but we can continue to implement new instructional models.
3) Equity – ensuring that all of our educational operations, from curriculum to discipline, are equitable in nature.

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

1) Funding – the state ought to be funding education to the degree of the findings from the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative, which showed schools in Michigan are severely underfunded.
2) Institute a progressive funding model – the state must make education funding more equitable. Our current state of school competition has widened the gap between school in low-income areas and elsewhere.
3) Testing – the state should move away from the current use of standardized tests in favor of research based methods for monitoring student progress.

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 is the most challenging year any of us have had to face in education. We will do everything we can to keep our students and staff safe – we of course require masks and have an ample supply of PPE. There is a lot of concern about the educational offerings in a hybrid environment. We have to be really intentional and focused on providing excellent academic opportunities regardless of students being in person or not. We are blessed to have devices for all of our students and the experience to be able to adequately provide education during this time.

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

Our first priority should be our staff. Investing in the people who spend each day working so hard for our students is a must. We have done a good job managing our budget that past few years to be able to do this. Frivolous spending is not a characteristic of our district.

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

As I’ve said above, I do not believe that standardized tests adequately assess student progress or the value of their education. I would be very interested to explore alternatives if we were given that opportunity.

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 rigorous, project based curriculum is what we aspire to. In many ways, we have made progress in this space and I am very excited about the future. The ideal curriculum promotes critical thinking, inspires curiosity, and allows children to grow as people and citizens. I would encourage us to continue to pivot from rote memorization in favor of hands-on projects that add depth to the material.

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

We have a tremendous responsibility to promote social/emotional well-being. This is a priority for us, especially during COVID.

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

Student discipline should be restorative in nature. It must also be equitable. We look at discipline data regularly to make certain that punishment is not disproportionate. That, paired with social/emotional supports, makes our schools safer.

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

We have a strong special education program and I have full faith in the staff who run it. My priority is to support them and continuously assess where we strengthen our program.

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

I have made this a personal goal and project of mine to seek resources for our district to become more equitable. There are always areas where improvement can be made in diversity, equity, and inclusion. To that end, I am hoping we can develop an on-going process whereby we formally audit our processes/procedures through an equity lens. This is a strong passion of mine and I try to center it in everything that I do.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thank you for the opportunity to submit these responses. I greatly appreciate your organization for making equity a priority in this questionnaire.