October 14, 2020
School District:Kalamazoo Public Schools
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
MEA and UA Local 357
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
To advocate for teachers and other school staff.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
Educational justice for me is having resources better allocated in order to provide students a more equitable learning experience. In regards to my district, we have a lot of work to do in regards to student behavior, over-testing, and providing our educators with the resources necessary so that they can provide the best learning culture within our schools.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
I wish one of the collective narratives gathered from this health crisis was one in which we, as a country, came together and realized how much we have neglected public education. I hope at the conclusion of this crisis, we see that as a culture, we have bastardized the teaching profession. So if I could re-imagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, it would definitely involve public schools not having to fend off public funding from private entities. It would include principals having the resources and time needed to lead their schools and provide the guidance that their teachers deserve. It would include support staff like secretaries, bus drivers, maintenance workers, paraprofessionals, etc. not having to worry that their job may not be there the next school year. After this health crisis, I hope that the symbolic importance that schools have correlates directly with how they are funded. Lastly, I hope teachers are viewed once again as community leaders and are treated as the educated professionals that they are.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
I would like to have a student representatives be involved at board meetings. Moreover, I feel transparency is important to have when addressing parents and families. Community members and organizers should be integral teammates when making key decisions at the district level.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
For one, I will improve student and teacher safety, to execute restorative justice practices, and to apply proactive approaches that lead to better student outcomes. Second, I believe in incorporating skilled trades educational opportunities into the District’s Curriculum and Career Planning in order to provide our students – especially those from diverse and/or underprivileged backgrounds – with critical skills for the future. Last, over-testing in the classroom burdens our teachers and students while taking away from beneficial classroom instruction time.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
My top three educational goals for the state level are for one, improve the working conditions for school teachers and staff. Because of the burden teachers face in regards to behavior, administrative responsibilities, district requirements, and so on, we have a state and national teacher shortage. Therefore, my top priority is to advocate on their behalf and improve those working conditions. Additionally, I would like to advocate for public education in response to charter and private schools using public funding. Lastly, I would like to increase the amount of money per student that is allocated by the state.
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?
My approach to this school year is safe, steady, and consistent. I am a firm believer in a more proactive approach to school. Opening and closing schools back and forth does not provide the consistency needed for young people. The end goal would be to go back to face-to-face learning as soon as it is safe to do so. Younger elementary students, who benefit less from virtual learning should get priority when making those transitions.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
One of our district’s priorities should be to continue updating and improving the development and remodeling of its school buildings. In addition, completing multi-year contracts with respective staff unions.
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
Standardized tests should be used as an overall guide towards better learning outcomes. However, their influence and application should not be the end-all focus for student achievement. Moreover, adding district based standardized assessments in order to obtain data does not outweigh the lost instructional time.
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 like to incorporate more project based learning and move away from curriculum checkpoints and assessments that absorb time from our teachers. The time spent collecting data could be better used planning effective and creative lessons.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
Teachers are under an incredible amount of stress and have an undue amount of responsibility. It is the district’s responsibility to help alleviate that stress and support teachers and supporting staff in order for them to better student outcomes and emotional well-being.
How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?
In regards to student discipline, I believe restorative justice practices should be implemented and followed-through. This would be a better alternative to suspensions and would provide better student outcomes. Having better student accountability and restorative justice practices will help promote better student behavior, which in turn will help provide students and staff with a safer learning environment.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
One of my priorities around special education within my district is improving the placement of students with special needs. Also, at the elementary level especially, students are over-assessed and over-tested. I would like to alleviate over-testing for the sake of both the teachers and students.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
I plan to partner with community organizers who advocate and promote social justice. I believe it is the district’s responsibility to be transparent about its approach to achieving better outcomes in regards to equity. At school board meetings, I believe it is important to have a student representative or representatives that can maturely provide feedback and explain their perspective and give them the autonomy to improve their education.
Any other information you want to include or share?
Thank you for reaching out and providing me with this opportunity.