The Winona Post asked me a series of questions for their voter’s guide supplement that appeared on Oct. 28. In case you didn’t see it, here are my responses to their questions:
- How can WAPS attract and retain more students and families?
Our district needs to focus extensively on the five goals of the World’s Best Workforce Strategic Plan. It is how our state assesses school districts. The five goals are:
-all children are ready for school
-all third-graders can read at grade level
-all racial and economic achievement gaps between students are closed
-all students are ready for career and college
-all students graduate from high school
If our district continues to improve in these areas, the community will rightfully notice that WAPS is an excellent school. In doing this, I believe our district will naturally attract and retain more students and families.
Additionally, our district needs to continue to emphasize strong communication with the community.
- WAPS has had to make very difficult, unpopular budget cuts and is likely to face more. How would you handle these kinds of hard decisions?
I handle such decisions with extreme thought and care. I approach all matters that come to the board table with a serious consideration of the argument and evidence associated with the issue at hand. I respect all of the disciplines in the district’s comprehensive curriculum and seek to treat each discipline equitably. I am especially protective of student support services. I do not believe that fiscal hardship is inevitable as long as we remain fiscally prudent and vigilant with addressing the five goals of the World’s Best Workforce strategic plan.
- What does WAPS need to do to support racial equity?
Our district needs to analyze our curriculum and practices to ensure we are fully inclusive of our students of color. We need to make a full effort to recruit and retain non-white students in all areas of our curriculum. We need to emphasize an equity-ladened pedagogy in the classrooms that uplifts our students of color and uses their experiences as strengths. We need to have a multiculturally flavored curriculum that fully includes the lives of our students of color. We also need to foster a culture in our district that empowers our students of color so that they are prominent in all aspects of the district, including student governance. We also need to provide student support services specifically designed to meet the needs of non-white students, their families, and their communities.
- WAPS had planned to seek a larger building referendum when the current one expires. Would you support a referendum plan that would include more school closure?
This is a hypothetical scenario. School board members need to address realities before them. With that said, my decisions on the school board are grounded in the argument and evidence associated with each issue I face. This issue would be no different.
I am less concerned with buildings as I am with what goes on inside of them. That is my priority on the school board. I want our school district to engage in progressive practices rooted in sound theory and research. These practices are structural such as empowering teachers in decision making and fostering a district that is more inclusive of all students. Such initiatives do not call for extra funding. We need to focus on doing school better rather than better school buildings at this moment.
- What skills or experience would you bring to public office?
I have been fortunate to be your school board member for the past year and a half. I believe that we have made significant progress as a district during this time. I am an engaged scholar in the field of public education who values our democratic way of life. I am a former teacher who prepares teachers for a living. I am an independent thinker who is willing to make a decision that is rightly rooted in argument and evidence as opposed to convention. I strive to be a resonant leader who deeply cares for our students and teachers. I respect the employees of the district and seek to support them to do their very best in the service of our students. I am dedicated to serving my community and have no personal gain or ideological bent in mind when holding public office.