October 4, 2020

James Haldane

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictNorthwest Community Schools
City:Jackson

How long have you lived in your district?

4 years

Have you received any endorsements?

No

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I was an educator for 10 years and want to bring that perspective to the table as an advocate for our teachers, administrators, families, and community.

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

Our educational and economic systems perpetuate inequity. Educational justice means respectfully and intelligently working to resolve the brokenness that prevents all students from having equal opportunities for educational success. Our district is not diverse…at all…because our corner of the county is not diverse. So, minorities are more likely to feel out-of-place here than, say, in an urban district. Therefore, it could be easier for those inequities to continue existing.

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

Lots of collaborative learning, small groups of students working together, virtual/in-person hybrid options.

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

They should have a voice, but, ultimately, respect the decisions made by the people who are hired and elected to lead the district.

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

none

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

Figuring out how to navigate the pandemic, figuring out how to navigate post-pandemic, improving community support for the district.

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

Adequate funding for schools, better support for teachers, adaptive solutions in the post-pandemic era.

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 quality of instruction has to be suffering because no online learning platform can replace being in a classroom with a teacher and peers. Safety measures are only as good as they are implemented, so to stay safe, schools have to enforce the recommendations set by the CDC and the state.

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

Staffing is a districts most valuable resource, so it must remain the top priority. Technology infrastructure and maintenance are now paramount. Extra curricular activities can be reduced or cut to save funding, so long as those cuts do not damage the social/emotional health of students.

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

The are a good metric for student success, but they are one metric. They need to be placed into a proper context to provide a holistic picture of learning. Too much emphasis is placed on these tests, so the pressure is high. Standardized tests do not match the assessment methods currently utilized in schools, so the disconnect paints a false picture of student success (or lack thereof).

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?

Collaborative learning, problem solving, and life application would be key. Use curriculum to teach content, but also life skills that will prepare students to be successful in their adult lives.

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

A lot. If basic physical, emotional, and mental health needs are not met, students and staff members alike will not be able to function at their best. Resources need to be available for staff and students and they need to be encouraged to take advantage of them. Those resources may or may not exist in the district. They might be community organizations that partner with schools.

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

Relational capacity is the key to safety. The Nurtured Heart Approach and PBIS are effective systems for cultivating environments with clear expectations and consequences for meeting and failing to meet those expectations.

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

Our county ISD has a great facility for individuals with severe disabilities. For those able to attend traditional schools all day, inclusion and resource rooms provide great spaces for Individualized Education Plans to be pursued. I have seen a lot of social integration with all kinds of students, as well, which is much better than the isolation and stigma that existed in the district I grew up in.

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

I think our district provides an emotionally safe environment for all students, but I also believe our broader community has a lot to learn about diversity and equity. So, there are surely blindspots that need to be addressed.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I worked as a first, second, and fifth grade teacher, a dean of students, and an instructional coach for a total of 10 years. I have worked with curriculum and instruction development and creative classroom environmental planning, as well. I hold a bachelor’s in elementary education and a master’s in reading and literacy instruction.