October 4, 2020

Gregory Hess

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictEast Lansing Public Schools
City:Roseville

How long have you lived in your district?

Most of life (about five years in other places)

Have you received any endorsements?

Margie Griffith (coming soon) – Positive ranking from LAHRg from

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I believe my technology background, especially now with a Covid world, would help. I have a daughter in 1st grade at Donley and I believe my experience, knowledge and approach could help keep East Lansing as a world-class system.

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

I think it is doing what we can to ensure that all children start from a place of educational equality. This will be a challenge to this school district – they have just not been traditionally designed in that fashion. We will need to look at novel ways of funding as well as increased collaboration, I would think, at the state level in order to create a plan that would make this a reality. Within the district itself it becomes a process of how to measure, track and ensure that equality.

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

I think our schools will be forced to be more dynamic. I am very ‘pro-teacher’ in that the teacher in the classroom is the single largest determinant of student success. How do we match the best teachers with the students who need the most help? how can districts leverage resources, knowledge and strategies?

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

I think we need to empower more parents and families. They need to be bought in earlier in some formal fashion to be informed and be able to consult and advise.

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

I have none.

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

Teacher’s first / educational equality / involve parents

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

I think we need collaboration across school systems, parents and representatives in order to be effective in educational equality as a fact in the state of Michigan.

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?

Hopefully we will not see additional challenges – we are inheriting enough. There will be a long tail on the effect of this crisis that will likely manifest in our children. From the decreased socialization, uncertainty and possibly even the environment at home they have spent more time at than normal – we need to be proactive in seeing these effects play out and be able to handle them. We must engage with teachers and experts to ensure returning to school is safe for everyone.

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

Finding and retaining the best teachers must be the top budget priority as it gives us the best chance at being successful in our mission. From there we need to track student achievement and be adaptable. Currently I would start with safety, then STEAM and educational equality. We do need to find lesser priorities as we need to be fiscally responsible.

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

Most studies show that standardized tests have a disproportionately positive impact on traditionally marginalized students. This flies against the conventional wisdom that these tests may be biased in ways that are detrimental. We need to be open to this discussion, consulting experts and do what the science shows us is most effective.

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?

With my background I would be more STEM based and with more kind of life economics training. I am not educated enough on the current curriculum to suggest changes beyond that.

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

I do not believe you can effectively teach in an environment where you are not factoring in mental, emotional and physical health and well being. We need to be very aware of what we can address and what we are not equipped to address. We need to perform a gap analysis to ensure that situations to not arise where a child ‘falls through the cracks’.

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

There cannot be education in a space that is not safe, especially physically. The district needs to complete its anti-bullying procedures and standardize enforcement. We need to discuss with teachers and experts what types of discipline we are equipped for and what are most effective. Which ones give us the best chance to result in all students continuing to attend and achieve at our school.

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

I am not educated enough on these needs and priorities. I would have to spend time listening and learning to be of service here.

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

Equity is an ongoing task. We need to be proactive in this task in looking at our communities, our make-up and measuring our success and short comings. We need to re-evaluate and respond to changes in our community. We need to make sure equity goes beyond that status of ‘what’ a person is but also ‘who’ they are. Excellence should be encouraged. All the studies I have reviewed show inclusivity as a very effective tool in success and I want to help make East Lansing successful.

Any other information you want to include or share?

From the outside looking in, we have placed our teachers under enormous pressure in such an unsure and unique time. They have stepped up and performed incredibly. We need to factor in the toll this takes on them and we need to recognize their excellence and make it a priority that they are pacing themselves to be excellent teachers for years to come and avoid the burnout that I believe must be inevitable in situations like this.