October 4, 2020

Ray DeWitt

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictSault Area Schools
City:Sault Sainte Marie

How long have you lived in your district?

2 years

Have you received any endorsements?

N/A

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

I want to give back to a profession that has served me so well in my life.

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

Everyone, regardless of background, has an equal opportunity for a quality education. If a learner wants to learn and advance their knowledge, they should have the chance. Everyone from Sault Sainte Marie to Detroit to Newberry should have the same learning opportunities regardless of school size, social economic status or location everyone should be given an equal opportunity.

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

Students would be able to take a wider variety of classes in an effort to allow equal access to a quality education. This could happen with distance education and cooperative agreements between districts, especially smaller districts.

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

All stakeholders should be active in the school. The community should be able to contact the board members to express their opinions about the different topics that will affect the schools their children attend. The community should be able to attend and participate in the board meetings to express their support or opposition to policy decisions. Board members need to be willing to listen to the people and weigh all the opinions when making decisions.

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?

Improve academic achievement, develop programs so all students can feel inclusive in the district and obtain adequate funding from the state.

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

Ensure quality education is available across Michigan so students who want to learn can, regardless of location or their background, increase funding for local school districts and attract the best teachers possible for our students.

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 district needs to keep vigilant about the preventative measures to minimize the risk of spreading COVID. Districts need to mandate masks on students and staff who are unable to keep six feet of separation, promoting hand washing and keep socially distanced when possible. Together we will get through this and we will be better once it is minimized.

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

Staff salaries and building maintenance should be the top priorities. Hiring is expensive, so having competitive salaries will stop staff from actively seeking other employment and early maintenance is less expensive then later maintenance. The district should be careful not to spend money to “jump on a bandwagon” because that is what other districts are doing. Thinking about how it benefits our district before spending money is important.

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

Standardized tests have a role in our educational system, but they have become the end-all for measuring learning. Every student is unique and what should be most important is that growth is seen in every student, not that every student is equal to every other student. A mindset where we are looking at student growth year to year should be considered, not just how the students do on a standardized test.

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 see our students grow and improve in their mathematical proficiency. Sault Sainte Marie is above the state’s average, but we should be striving to be near the top, mediocrity is not good enough. In sports we want to be the best, why not in academics? I would keep the smaller class sizes.

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

The district should not add to any emotional problems. If possible, the district should support staff’s desire to participate in exercise programs/clubs etc. If staff are happy and content with their jobs that will project onto their students, who in turn will be happier. Mood is contagious and if teachers and staff are happy this will help make students happy. Happy students are more engaged and interested in learning.

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

I do not believe in a zero tolerance policy. Every situation has to be evaluated on a case by case basis. However, all students have a right to learn and a student who is consistently causing classroom disruptions does not have the right to diminish others right to learn and should be removed. Teachers are there to teach, not discipline. There should be consequences to bad behavior.

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

As before, we need to strive to have growth in every student. Work to achieve the maximum growth in every student over the course of the school year. This is not any different then for students who are in special education. We should focus on growth for the students.

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

I believe I have answered this question in the other answers in the survey. One more time, every student has the right to learn. We need to form cooperative agreements so that all districts can offer high quality education regardless of location, small districts or large, every student in the state of Michigan should be given the same or at least similar opportunities to learn.

Any other information you want to include or share?