Neighborhood: Lafayette Square
Political experience: None
Your take on opening schools during COVID-19: Opening our schools is a fine balance between the need to have students in the classrooms and ensuring the safety of our teachers. As a parent rep on the district’s COVID 19 ReStart task force, I was able to see how delicate that balance must be. I agree with the plans to slowly reopen schools without exceeding safety capacities. As more teachers can get vaccinated and more data comes out about COVID in children, the science is showing we should be able to slowly return to a somewhat normal status. I do not know that everything will ever truly be the same again, and we need to try and still make accommodations for teachers who have concerns about their or their family’s safety. However, if things continue as they are, I do not see why we should not be able to return to a new normal by the start of next school year.
Your take on the use and closure of existing school properties: We must determine the right ratio of buildings to students by doing a citywide assessment of public education needs. With the proliferation of charters, the city is being forced to spread resources across 110 different buildings. This is not sustainable and has a direct impact on our ability to educate all our students. If it is determined that we must close buildings, I believe prioritization should be placed on maintaining strong neighborhood schools. I feel parents should have choice, but choice does result in increased busing costs and more fractured communities. I believe we can find ways to honor the rich history of our school buildings and district while still ensuring the educational opportunities our children deserve.
Your take on reducing crime and violence in the school system: Crime and violence in our schools can be better addressed with wrap-around support services than through any continuation of the school-to-prison pipeline. Addressing the trauma that is the root of much of these issues for our students, while more difficult, is more effective than extra security will ever be. Increased trauma training for our teachers to help them recognize root causes of behavior combined with full-time social workers and counselors in every building have been shown to be the most effective method of fighting issues in our schools.
Your take on ending inequity within the school district: Inequity in our schools takes shape in multiple ways we need to address. Gifted testing and education are the most glaring example of inequity we have, but we must also look at funding and school location. Testing a child at 3 is a poor method of determining gifted ability. Other methods including teacher assessments and 100% testing in school should be investigated as well. To address inequity in funding and schools we must first find out all the information. While schools receive funding on a per-student basis, that does not consider targeted donations to specific buildings or excessive PTO contributions to a school. Once the real picture is shown, my belief is that we should shift funds to the schools most in need of support. Hiring reading specialists and wrap-around support services while strengthening our communities by rebuilding neighborhood schools will begin to address some of the inequity in our school system. Also, listening to outside groups like Forward through Ferguson as well as our parents can ensure we don’t lose focus on this important topic.