October 4, 2020

Martin Cook

Pronouns:Martin Cook is my name
School DistrictMemphis Community Schools
City:Memphis

How long have you lived in your district?

30 years

Have you received any endorsements?

n/a

Are you an incumbent?

Yes

Why do you want to be a school board member?

My goal in joining the school board two years ago and for another term is to help our school system grow by reversing the enrollment loss to neighboring districts by offering new and unique offerings to give our students options for career choices. While our counties tech program offers some great opportunities, too many students are left out because of class size limitations. We must offer more not less to our students.

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

Educational justice in the Memphis Schools should mean hat every student has the same opportunities to learn in the method that suits them so that we do not graduate students into the world lacking in the knowledge they need to succeed in whatever path they take.

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

Schools should look like the rest of the world after the current crisis is over. Our attention to cleanliness and sanitation while magnified by the Covid-19 pandemic should not be the reason we focus on these standards. There are far more dangerous health issues that will be minimized by proper standards education and enforcement.

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

We should take a page from the LEAN process used in manufacturing as well as other business. An example of this would be the theory that “the person who sweeps the floor should choose the broom”. Administration should be there to set overall goals and structure, those actively educating our students including the parents, students and families should “choose the broom”. As an example several years ago a teacher proposed a book titled “Shades of Grey” by Jasper Fforde. This book is a dystopian novel that takes place in Chromatacia an alternate version of the UK wherein social class is determined by ones ability to perceive color. The administration refused to allow the book because ” this is a small town and people will think it is the sexual book 50 shades of grey”. One student bought the book anyway and has communicated to the author over the years and has used her learnings about the commonalities of that novel to what is happening in todays world in her university studies. The administration needed to let that teacher “choose the broom” in that situation.

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?

Retaining students through their K-12 experience, providing more educational offerings to give real world learning to our children, providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students

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

Funding for growth not maintaining the status quo, removing politics from schools and school decisions, more emphasis on needed technical education

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?

Memphis Schools covid plan is working just fine. I would not change anything.

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

Top priorities: Teachers salary and benefits, investing in technical education in district, physical plant upgrades
Bottom priorities: Administration pay

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

Standardized tests are A tool not THE tool for measuring progress. We must recognize that and adjust our thinking.

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?

Our curriculum must be updated to include more technical opportunities and real world learning. How do we graduate seniors that cannot fill out a basic tax form or understand how to manage their credit? These are important life skills that must be taught.

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

The school district should monitor these things and work with the parents of students and the staff members who need assistance. The school system should not be the primary caregiver or responsible party.

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

Policies should be followed as they are written. All students and staff should be held to the same standard. When some students or staff are not held accountable and others are it creates an environment that does not support a positive learning or working environment.

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

Special Education is near and dear to my heart as I had a relative that was in special education many years ago. Our special education students deserve the same educational opportunities as others.

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

Equity can only be achieved when we provide the individual student with what they need to be successful. This may not be equal to what is provided for others. equality should not be confused with equity. Students have different needs and this must be part of how we determine what support is given.

Any other information you want to include or share?

My approach is blunt and I have never been accused of being “politically correct”. You never have to wonder where you stand with me as a school board member. I will ask the tough questions and demand the truth no matter how inconvenient. I am beholden to no group or organization, my children graduated and are both attending university. I abhor the “good old boys” of small town politics and administration. My sole agenda is to provide the best Student and staff environment for learning and success.