Do you support School Resource Officers (SRO) and Constables in schools? Please explain your position.
As an educator I support SRO in our schools because they make students and educators feel safer. I believe the stakeholders should have significant input to who is hired as the SRO and that all SROs should be trained for implicit bias and evaluated by a team that includes administrators, educators, parent, and students. Emphasis should be placed on SRO keeping students in school opposed to excluding them.
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?
I recommend a review of all zero-tolerance policies to determine if less harsh approaches such as restorative practice can be utilized more frequently. Educators should be trained to utilize more options such as restorative practice and de-escalation, prior to involving school resource officers. My experience has shown that black and brown students are disciplined more frequently for subjective offenses that are often based on educators’ implicit biases. Educators should be required to complete professional development to address implicit bias that often leads to inequitable and unfair treatment.
What does equity mean to you?
Equity means ensuring that all people have systems and practices in place that provide opportunities for them to be equally successful. This includes the hiring process, educator professional development, differentiation of instructional, and school and program funding.
How would you work to improve equity in funding and resources allocations in the District?
Delaware’s current funding system is archaic and must be changed to address the changes in our educational system. School districts should not have to rely on passing referenda to finance documented needs for students in their districts. States should provide more support for our more challenging students and schools and district and building personnel should play a larger role in how funds are allocated and spent.
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 everywhere, and I constantly work to be aware of mine. As a school board member, I will ensure that educators are trained to notice their personal implicit bias and to provide training as a district to show how implicit bias negatively impacts students and staff. A few ways that educators can began to address implicit biases is by having high expectations for all students, working on consciously changing your personal stereotypes, increasing exposure to diverse people and developing empathy
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.
To ensure quality education for all students you must know your students and hold them to high standards. When you know your students, you know what they like and how they learn and what they can learn. Educators must know how to differentiate instruction so high achievers are provided lessons that are complex and have more depth. For students with special needs lessons should use their IEP to incorporate strategies that promote high academic achievement. For English Language Learners it’s imperative to support ELL students in all content areas. Overall students perform better when they are in non-threatening inclusive environments and held to high expectations.
Are there any other equity, racial justice, or funding goals not talked about above that you hope to accomplish in your term in office?