and testing standards
Whether one accepts the state accountability system based on standardized assessments or not, it’s clear that far too many of APS’s students are not getting the education they need or deserve. While there have been improvements, reading and math literacy are far from acceptable, while graduation and matriculation rates are still below the state averages.
These results are considerably worse for students from marginalized communities and are representative of the gaps in opportunity and achievement that plague not only our district but the state and the country.
After a year of COVID shutdowns it is unlikely that without drastic interventions that these metrics will improve. As a board member I will be focused on addressing the challenges presented by a year of crisis. I will also be focused on accelerating student learning, particularly for students who have been left out of educational success.
A student taking a test
As a teacher, I have seen first-hand the struggles of teachers within the education system. I am aware that these challenges lead to burnout and great educators exiting the profession. I also understand that the financial incentives to join the teacher workforce are greatly lacking.
Finally, while 83% of APS enrollment is made up of students of color, the vast majority of teachers do not reflect that diversity. While many of these issues are frankly beyond the ability of a school board member or the district to confront, there are places where I believe I can make a difference.
As a board member, I will advocate for adjusting hiring and recruitment practices to seek more teachers of color in APS. I will always be open to meeting with APS educators and take their concerns into consideration as I make decisions.
My experience in both education and the criminal justice system gives me unique insight into the ways the decisions we make in education interact with the criminal justice system. Inequities in the way punishment is meted out, harsh discipline practices including suspension and expulsion, as well as the presence of police often called School Resource Officers in schools demonstrate the “school to prison pipeline” in action.
As a board member I will advocate to end practices that remove students from the classroom, except in the most egregious of cases. I will hold the district accountable in the design of new or remodeled buildings to ensure they are open and welcoming not reflective of correctional facilities.
Finally, I will also engage the community around the presence of police in our schools, meeting with both those who support and oppose the idea of removing them. Our schools should be places of community and learning not of control and that vision is what I will work towards.
Covid-19 Learning slide
The evidence that students did miss out on learning due to the COVID pandemic continues to accumulate while, unfortunately, the plans to address what was lost remain woefully inadequate.
I acknowledge all of the effort that educators have put in to helping students during the last year of crisis and thank them for the efforts. As a teacher myself, I know how hard the work has been. It is frustrating to see that despite our best efforts, many students are behind and falling further behind.
Pretending that this is not the case does not help our students. Rather than being divided, addressing these needs provides an opportunity for our education system to truly unite with the community.
As a board member, I will encourage the district to use the federal and state funding we’ve received to partner with community groups to offer tutoring, to find volunteers who will be trained and will help students making learning gains. I will also encourage the district to offer students the support they need to accelerate their learning.
District transportation systems
One of the barriers to equitable access to high quality schools in our district is the issue of school transportation. Transportation in our district is designed with school enrollment boundaries in mind rather than seeking to move students to the schools that fit them best.
As the APS blueprint moves towards the implementation of regional Magnet school programs it is particularly important that this mindset changes.
As a board member, I will advocate to change the focus of transportation from boundary to student focused in order to ensure that students from any part of the district get to the school program that meets their needs and interests.
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