October 4, 2020

Madeline Acosta

Pronouns:She/Her
School DistrictLivonia Public Schools
City:Livonia

How long have you lived in your district?

14 years

Have you received any endorsements?

Yes, from the Livonia Democratic Club

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I have been serving the Livonia community in a range of capacities from classroom parent, PTA member, PTSA President, and as a Substitute Teacher for the district since 2018. Previously, I was employed as a Special Education Teacher and Community/Homeless Liaison for over 10 years. The sum of these experiences shapes my views on educating our children while respecting the tireless work of educators. Having sat on a Board as a VP of Collegiate Operations and Risk Manager, I am no stranger to the consideration and adoption of policies, and demands of accountability.

As a parent, I am invested in the success of our schools–the quality of education, as well as maintaining high expectations for all students. The empowering interactions with community members and administrators propelled me to seek this office as a way of sharing my perspective while continuing to advocate for ALL students.

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

Education justice means ensuring that students receive what they need in order to succeed academically. For LPS, it would mean that every student, regardless of race, gender, or orientation will be met where they are and guided to achieve their true potential, so that they can meet or exceed their personal life goals.

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

Schools would have the appropriate resources available to meet all the social/emotional needs of all students, not just the academic ones. The pandemic has raised questions about our ability as a district to provide support for students feeling isolated, with family financial constraints, and overall mental health. Ideally, our schools would have the trained personnel to address all of these concerns so that students can focus on being present and active participants in their education.

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

At every juncture, parent and student feedback should be encouraged and actively sought out. I would like to see the PTAs becoming the space for families to discuss what is going on at their respective schools–allowing for families to support each other, creatingn a greater sense of community. This would allow for a stronger voice in sharing feedback with the district.

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

I am running a primarily grassroots campaign, with my husband and I incurring nost of the costs and some community donations.

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

As a school district, our priorities should be:
* increasing the proficiency levels of all of our students in reading, writing, and math
* improving student access to social/emotional support
* identifying areas of improved rigor based on post-secondary student goals

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

At the state level, we must demand that public education be a financial priority. Increased funding for teacher salaries assists districts in retaining highly qualified teachers.

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 biggest challenge this school year is maintaining any kind of consistency and stability in terms of in-person versus remote learning, followed by supporting students through the complexities of this new learning environment. The school district must be prepared to address any social/emotional concerns stemming from student isolation due to COVID safety protocols/requirements as well as continued demands of maintaining social distance whenever they are able to return to in-person learning. Buildings will require additional staffing to assist with ongoing sanitation requirements, as well as mask breaks in order for teachers to be able to stay focused on providing instruction.

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

Teacher salaries, student instructional support, and technology updates should be at the top of the list of spending priorities, with any expense that does not directly impact student achievement being at the bottom of the priority list.

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

Standardized tests allow for parents and students to measure their individual progress and prepare students for college entrance exams. Since there are so many variables determining success on these tests, I believe that they should only be used as a tool for school administrators to determine areas of academic improvement, but not as a tool to measure teacher effectiveness. For instance, if a majority of students perform poorly on a specific standard, then administrators can review the curriculum to see how that standard is being addressed in order to adapt and adjust for the following year.

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?

Although I know that the district’s curriculum is constantly changing, so it makes it difficult for teachers to feel confident about their teaching, I would love to see our curriculum reflect more of the faces and cultures represented in the classrooms.

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

The mental health/wellbeing of both students and staff is crucial for a healthy learning environment. To function at the highest level, both students and staff must feel supported.

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

Most student disciplinary issues are due to lacking relationships with staff. In order for students to feel safe at school, they need to feel like there is at least one staff member that cares about them. Having caring, trained staff on hand to address concerns even before they arise (because a relationship has already been established) lends itself to a safer school environment.

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

I would like to see students with special needs being taught in their least restrictive environment with the appropriate supports to ensure academic success. It would be wonderful to strenghthen the partnership between the families of students with special needs and their teaching staff by providing workshops and trainings that address specific family concerns, so they feel like equal partners in their child’s learning.

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

In order to achieve equity in our school district, we need to take a look at how we are addressing the achievement gaps, by reviewing allocation of funds and resources, including accounting for disparities based on race/ethnicity. Equity also requires staff to receive ongoing training on diversity and inclusion.

Any other information you want to include or share?