October 6, 2020
School District:Wayne-Westland Community School District
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
State Representative Kevin Coleman; City Councilman James Godbout, School Board President David Cox
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
I want to give back to the community school district for which I was employed for over 20 years. I understand the value of a successful public school system to viable communities. Finally, my unique educational experience as an assistant superintendent for educational services provides a valuable resource to other trustees and the superintendent.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
First I consider a formal education a key component of the overall growth of children into adults that enables them to contribute to a society as a whole. Our school district is somewhat unique in that we also have a career and technical education center that provides training to students for career choices. Our district is significantly diverse. Our children attend school every day with children from diverse backgrounds that helps them to learn about and understand people from different cultures and backgrounds.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
It might be time to disrupt the system. First, I want to make it clear that classroom teachers and support staff that interact with children each day will always be part of how I think. But, having said that, curriculum and assessment should be available in adaptive software that allows students to learn as they progress. I use this example to better explain what I mean: when a person attempts to buy theater tickets online utilizing purchasing software, it usually requires the user to enter an email twice with the second entry to verify the first. If a mistake is made and the two do not match, the software alerts the user to make a correction. IT DOES NOT BAR THE USER FROM PURCHASING TICKETS. So adaptive software would do the same. So, instead of failing a one-time assessment, a student is allowed to make corrections to errors in real time. Hence, standards-based grading, and ‘casual’ advancement through curriculum becomes the norm.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
I want to start with students. Data must be collected and compiled for younger students unable to provide specifics to survey attempts. Older children can be asked to provide survey answers to specific questions. All of the student data should be compiled and be considered as most significant. Families should be surveyed as well. Often children have shared information with parents or guardians that they would be reluctant to share with the adults around school. In any case, children should drive decision making activity.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
There were several community members who contributed similarly. Between $50 and $150 contributions were the norm.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
Personalized learning (accompanying assessment tools that measure growth), developing educational expectations and appropriate interventions for individuals (the IEP for every learner), increase the integration of technology as learning resources.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
It is imperative that funding become equitable for all districts; minimize the effect of standardized test scores on the evaluation of educators; provide stronger oversight and interventions for students with disabilities.
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?
At this point, families and teachers are just finding solutions to distance learning. Rather that put some modification/hybrid plan in place for a time, keep things the same until schools are ready to return everyone to full-time status.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Continue to evaluate and upgrade students’ ability to utilize technological advances in the learning. also, begin to develop entire curriculum resources utilizing open source materials. Stop spending major dollars on prepackaged, hard-cover resources and consumables.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
I believe in them as a tool to be used to find gaps in curriculum sources. It would be highly beneficial if standardized assessments were utilized as formative assessments initiated on personal devices. In this way, not only will we know that students have learned, but also how successful they are testing digitally.
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?
American history must be completely redeveloped. What I mean is that we should have history for all integrated throughout the course. There should be no need for Black History Month or anything similar.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
Too often students come to school with significant shortages of things that 40-50 years ago would have been provided by family and community. Knowing that these sources are not as strong as in the past, we have to first be aware of these shortages for individual students and then be prepared to meet the needs or connect them with the necessary resources to meet those needs.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
I am a firm believer in establishing a culture of expectations for all. This requires great effort in making certain that everyone, including community stakeholders, are fully informed of the expectations. Having said that, in order for any plan to work, every member of the educational team-teachers, administrators, support staff, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers, clerical workers, and central office staff will enforce the expectations. And everyone will do this regardless of calendar or clock. I firmly believe that this tenet is why any attempt of any kind to manage behavior fails. When done correctly, it really does not matter what the consequence/intervention a district chooses. But certainly, restorative justice can work when the need for intervention is managed by expectations.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
First, require that every IEP reflects the real need of each student. Compile data as to what those needs are, and then work on staffing to meet those needs. One would think that this already occurs. But the shortage of staff has caused districts to submit IEP’s that contain needs that staffing can meet.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
I will refer back to my answers reflecting a need to personalize and adapt learning to individual students. I believe that this is the only way to better develop relationships between teachers and their students. Having said that, equity happens as each student experiences success as a result of working closely with his/her teacher.
Any other information you want to include or share?
This is my community. It was my place of employment. Finally, we do research on education as though the system we know is working for all students, and apply that research to the same system. What would it look like if instead, we used the research to disrupt the system?