October 4, 2020

Jennifer LaTosch

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictFerndale Public Schools
City:Ferndale

How long have you lived in your district?

25+ years

Have you received any endorsements?

(I have not sought any as I am running unopposed).)

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I believe a strong and equitable public education is imperative for our children, our families and our communities. I want to ensure that all of our kids have the resources and support they need to reach their goals and become successful in their chosen paths.

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 our schools must provide equitable access to education, which requires supporting each student where they are and ensuring systemic barriers are recognized and removed. It means ensuring that our students see themselves in our school teachers and administrators – by race, religion, LGBTQ, culture, gender, etc. It means demanding regular and critical review of our policies, procedures, curriculum, school environment, to constantly move our district to one that reflects, supports and celebrates the entirety of our student body.

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

Due to the loss of learning and social-emotional support that was inevitable due to this shut-down, we may have to re-imagine how our typical school year looks, perhaps by extending the school year and providing more substantial mid-year breaks. This may assist in making up for some of the lost learning time and minimizing “summer slide”.

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

Open communication and full transparency are imperative. Regular community meetings, community based school groups, community involvement in strategic planning and carry-through, all ensure a free-flow of information and a continual building of trust and support.

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

n/a

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

My top three priorities are achievement, equity, and advocacy. We must continually strive to improve academic achievement while simultaneously focusing on social-emotional health. Equity goes hand-in-hand with achievement, which means we must take the time to understand the lived experience of all of our students, review our policies and practices, and make sure everyone has what they need in order to achieve their fullest potential. And we must continue to advocate for our students, our teachers/staff, our community, and our vision. The FPS family has engaged in difficult conversations, made difficult decisions by always focusing on what is best for our students, and come together to strengthen our district. By continuing to work together to realize our new Strategic Plan, our momentum will remain positive, our retention and financial stability will continue to increase, and the academic growth and social-emotional health of all students will thrive.

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

My top three goals at a state level are funding, equity, and funding. Not to sound flippant, but I truly hope that Michigan will once again prioritize public education by adequately and appropriately funding our schools – for our students, our teachers and our future. We must also approach education in an equitable manner, but considering the lived experiences of all of our students – from our cities to our most rural areas, across race/gender/culture/LGBTQ.

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 number one priority is to keep our community safe – our students, our staff, our families, and our community at large. Within that overriding framework, we need to ensure our kids are learning and receiving the supports they need. It will be an adjustment to move from hybrid to in-school, and we need to ensure tha once we make that shift we won’t have to experience another rapid shut down, like we did in March of 2020. Thereafter, we will need to take close stock of how our students are doing in their educational journey, and consider any and all necessary adjustments to make up as much lost learning as possible.

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

Every financial decision must start with the question, “How does this help our students?”

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

As a supporting measure to ensure our students are making educational progress.

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 want to honor our collective goal of ensuring the curriculum is equitable and speaks to/supports all of our students.

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

We are a school family, just not a collection of buildings and people. The social-emotional well-being of our students and staff is directly related to our students educational success.

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

I believe in restorative practices in schools for our students. We must also make sure that discipline is consistently enforced.

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

Ensuring that our students receive the individualized instruction and supports they need to achieve their fullest potential, and that our staff has the resources and supports necessary to provide that individualized instruction.

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

Equity is the foundation of our Strategic Plan and goes hand-in-hand with overall student achievement. We have a duty to continually strive to create and maintain an equitable school structure and climate.

Any other information you want to include or share?

Thank you for supporting public education!