October 4, 2020
School DistrictPlymouth-Canton Community Schools
How long have you lived in your district?
Have you received any endorsements?
— Senator Dayna Polehanki, 7th District — Representative Kristy Pagan, 21st House District — Representative Matt Koleszar, 20th House District — Commissioner Melissa Daub, Wayne County District 10 — The Michigan Education Association (MEA) — The Plymouth Democratic Club — The Canton Democratic Club — IBEW — AFL-CIO
Are you an incumbent?
Why do you want to be a school board member?
To help make certain that all kids can achieve their maximum potential. To guide our already great district to greater heights. To support public education.
What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?
I’m not familiar with the term “education justice”, but one of the goals I’ve had over the time I’ve served and my key future goals is to close the achievement gap. Especially with our sub-groups, notably our black / african american students. As a district we must strive for equity and identify the root causes of these gaps and purposefully and systematically address them.
If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?
First and foremost I would change the way that education is funded in Michigan. While the intent of Proposal A was to provide equity, after 35 years, those gaps still exist and show the stark difference between the haves and the have nots. I would have a level funding model for all districts with regional adjustments based upon cost of living, achievement levels, and poverty rates.
For school itself, this pandemic has shown that traditional school isn’t for everyone. High quality virtual options should continue to be made available, including hybrid models that combine in person and virtual. With proper funding class sizes could be brought down significantly and additional investments made in social, emotional, and mental wellness.
Ultimately public school should allow all students to thrive and be able to reach their full potential.
Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?
As part of a learning community, parents, teachers, students, even support staff and administration all work together to build the school and education that is right for them.
Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?
Myself at this point
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?
1. During Covid, make certain that we can educate our students while keeping students and staff safe.
2. Closing the equity gap that PCCS has with our sub-groups, notably our Black/African American students. In addition, during recent Black Lives Matters protests, I was disheartened to hear of subtle as well as overt racism in our district. While the district has made great strides in our restorative practices and suspension / expulsion policies and processes, we clearly have more work to do.
3. To make certain that all students can achieve their full potential. This includes those who need additional support, as well as those who need additional challenges.
What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?
Funding, Funding, Funding
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?
Navigating the delicate balance between health and safety and providing an excellent education for students. COVID is changing every day and we are getting conflicting information on how and when it is safe to return to in person school. Finding the right way to keep students and staff safe while getting back to in person for those that need and want it is the most urgent task.
What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?
Supporting the classroom including teachers and support staff
What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?
Standardized tests provide guidance to educators on one aspect of how students perform. They should not be the only measure of students (or educators).
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?
More quickly create a unified and aligned curriculum in the district that embeds representation from all of our cultures and backgrounds present in the district and community.
What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?
Education starts with mental 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?
Restorative practices have been implemented in the district and need to continue to be emphasized and propagated.
What are your top priorities around special education in your district?
As we have moved to the least restrictive model of special education we need to provide additional resources in the classroom to support those students.
What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?
As mentioned, Equity is a key goal for me and our board.
Any other information you want to include or share?
I, along with Anupam Chugh Sidhu, Lauren Christenson, and Shawn Wilson have created a slate of four candidates for this upcoming election cycle. While there are many good candidates running, we believe that this slate provides the optimal balance of leadership, experience, innovation, and diversity, as well as being parents of PCCS kids at all levels. There are many challenges facing PCCS over the coming years, and we believe that this slate is best positioned to meet those head-on and guide the district to greater heights. Campaigning is always difficult and resource-intensive, and with Covid, this is even harder. Having a coordinated slate will allow us to pool resources and networks to run the best possible campaign while simultaneously advocating for the renewal of Wayne RESA Regional Enhancement Millage.