October 4, 2020

Jamila James

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictAnn Arbor Public Schools
City:Ann Arbor

How long have you lived in your district?

19 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Eric Sturgis , Katie Scott, Linh Song

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to prepare our children to be functional adults in this swiftly changing world we now find ourselves in. Our children need to have communication skills,financial literacy , social emotional learning and the ability to navigate life, if college is not a viable option. I want to be the voice for those who’s voice is currently unheard.

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

Education Justice is the acknowledgement that everyone can learn and it it up to us to make sure the conditions are accessible to make that a reality. One major way we can do this is to make sure to communicate what resources are available within our community. Such as tutoring, our community centers, the hot spots being offered to families. One problem that I noticed with in my community is that there are resources out there, but they are not widely known. Also, within the schools we can utilize our resources to make sure children that are struggling get the support they need –from reading specialist to looking at what’s going on in the home that can be making learning difficult. Going in with a solution based mindset of how we can make learning better for each child is real education justice.

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

It would look like a space that is building/ encouraging/ educationing a child holistically. We would have social emotional learning that teaches children to critically think, not only about themselves but others. We would have restorative justice, that would teach children to be self reflective and to take accountability for their thoughts and actions. We would have a place where every child is valued and encourage to thrive, be it going to college or skilled trade. It would be a place where we as administrators put the best interest of the students, based on research, ahead of the financial bottom line.

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

I think that everyone should have an opportunity to express there opionions and thoughts and have them actually be taken into consideration. You never know where solutions to problem can come from. We all have such different perspectives. It is only through seeing the problems through different spectrums that you can find solutions that help us all.

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

none

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

One of my top priority is to bring equity, restorative justice, social emotional learning to all of our schools. My second priority is to bring back life skills, soft skills and skilled trade back into the schools which goes with equity. My third is an anti-racist, inclusive curriculum.

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

Anti-racist, inclusive, curriculum. Equal funding, not based on how much money a community earns. Equity, restorative justice and social emotional learning.

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?

I think the challenge is keeping everyone safe and I think Ann Arbor is doing the right thing. Online learning with the goal of bringing the younger kids back to in person learning as soon as its safe too. However, we also have to make sure those that have additional services, such as IEP’S and 504’s are getting the support they need.

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

I’m not sure because I have not seen the numbers. I can say that our budget shouldn’t be top heavy. Most of our money should be focused on what will yield the best results for the children.

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

None. They are cultural bias and only shows how well a child can take a test.

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 an anti-racist , all inclusive curriculum mandatory.

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

I think that it is a vital part of our responsibility. We know that according to Maslows Needs that if your basic needs, such as safety is not in place then learning and growth is not possible. We can not address educational learning without addressing the mental and emotional well being of all involved in the process.

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

Restorative Justice

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

Making sure humanity is a part of the solutions. People tend to think of people with special needs as others. My top priority is to look at what is needed both, in general and individually and making sure the funds and the people who actually care about the needs of the students and families are in place. We have the resources. The real question is if we have the will.

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

My perspective is it is not an option not to work on equity. We can’t expect our children to thrive without equity. In a world where low income people and people of color are often not taken into consideration when decisions are made, while at the same time are the ones often struggling with having basic needs meant, it is near impossible to get quality education for all children. We need equity in order for all our children to thrive.

Any other information you want to include or share?

I am human. I don’t know everything and will not do everything perfect. However, my priority is to help all of our children thrive. I’m open-minded , and have the ability to put my ego to the side and just listen and hear. I am also unafraid to to be uncomfortable in order to get through change. Knowing that the discomfort is just a temporary thing, but the payoff will be worth it. I think this is the most important thing needed to be on the School Board.