Do you support School Resource Officers (SRO) and Constables in schools? Please explain your position.
I worked with SROs for many years. Delaware has been very, very lucky to not have experienced a horrible school shooting. I believe SROs provide a necessary level of security that unfortunately is peculiar to the U.S., due to Americans’ love of guns. I do support their deployment in schools. Many officers and constables connect with students in other ways, such as coaching sports or sponsoring clubs. More culturally relevant training for these staff is needed. SRO selection is very important. Police are trained to do a very different job from teachers. The SROs should be participating in school based behavioral/culturally responsive training as well.
Delaware Department of Education data shows that Black, Brown and Special Education students in Red Clay School District are disproportionately represented in discipline referrals, suspensions and arrest. What other steps, beyond existing policies, should the school district take to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all students?
It is true that statistics show people of color are more likely to have adverse encounters with police and the data you cite is accurate for school discipline as well. The ERA program I mention below is a great step toward raising awareness of these issues and prompting creative solutions. I also know that school staff are using behavioral based approaches and de-escalation techniques to address the disproportionality. If those are not working, then we will need to explore other strategies.
What does equity mean to you?
Equity does not mean equal. Providing “equal” resources to all children regardless of their educational needs is inherently inequitable. Equity in education is the practice of providing rigorous standards-based instruction at grade level, supplemented with resources and materials as needed that will result in academic success.
How would you work to improve equity in funding and resources allocations in the District?
As a board member, I believe my number one responsibility is the transparent and fiscally responsible oversight of taxpayer funds, the district budgeting process, and the budget itself. The unit count is an antiquated system that does not recognize the improvements in student equity and preparation that districts want to make. It is rife with “unfunded mandates” that must be addressed. For example, PE, music and other related arts fields are required in schools, yet come from the general unit count. This forces districts to sometimes make decisions that are not in the best interests of kids. The Opportunity Funding deployed a few years ago is scheduled to be increased over time. During my time with Red Clay, I saw how those funds made an impact. Similarly, the K-3 needs-based funding is being phased in as well. Both funding sources will be helpful. Finally, I support current legislation that expands universal pre-kindergarten programming.
Do you believe implicit bias impacts students and staff? If so, how will you work to lessen the negative effects of implicit bias within the school district? How will you work to address implicit bias within yourself?
I believe that implicit bias exists in our society. I feel the district is doing a good job addressing this issue, particularly through its ERA process (Engage, Reflect, Act).
As a board member, I commit to staying informed through whatever trainings are available to me. I hold a sincere, intentional philosophy of equity for all students in an atmosphere free from discrimination and work to ensure that all district staff practice the same. I look forward to participating in Colonial’s Equity Summit on May 12.
Describe how you would ensure quality education for a diverse student population: i.e. the gifted and talented, the “average” student, students with special educational needs, students with different abilities, English Language learners, low-income students and those with cultural differences.
The essential function and primary purpose of the public education system is to ensure that students graduate college and career ready and well-positioned to richly contribute to society. Every school board needs to keep a laser focus on this goal and resist distractions. To that end, every decision I am asked to make will be considered through this lens: “Will this decision enhance the district’s mission to produce citizens who will be able to meaningfully contribute to society?” Students need highly trained, flexible and skilled educators. I will use my experience in staff recruitment and retention to support that need.
Are there any other equity, racial justice, or funding goals not talked about above that you hope to accomplish in your term in office?
I want to reiterate my support for universal pre-kindergarten. I have seen firsthand the benefits of early childhood intervention. These programs can level the playing field and provide much needed support for our youngest and most at-risk students. The Board should be asking district officials about these programs and ensuring that adequate funding is being provided and sites are expanded.