Our schools belong to all of us and I want to work to foster an environment that holds our leadership accountable to all stakeholders. The feedback of students, parents, families, and staff should be actively and routinely asked for and listened to before the decisions affecting our district are made. We should be working with our educators and our families to give all of our students the quality education we know SCUSD can provide.
Our dollars should be spent where it matters the most - inside our classrooms and at our school sites. Even in the best of economic times, we must always strive to make sound and mindful decisions about how and where we spend our tax dollars. But, in this time of economic uncertainty, we must ensure more than ever that we are making smart fiscal decisions that support our educators as they prepare our children - our futures - for their lives as successful members of our community, no matter the career path they choose.
ADVOCATING FOR ALL STUDENTS
It should be easier for parents and families to navigate our schools to advocate for their children's educations. I want to help facilitate prompt and appropriate responses to all families. We should be working to ensure every child receives the best education possible so they can achieve their true potential.
LEADING WITH AN EQUITY LENS
Leading with an equity lens means building school communities that recognize, respect, and support all students and their distinct backgrounds and talents. When schools are equity centered and inclusive, students are self-actualized, engaged learners who better understand themselves and their histories and are able to shape themselves, their communities, and their world. Achieving true equity is a multi-step process that requires the collaboration and cooperation of all stakeholders. It requires a united commitment to (i) equity and diversification in hiring, resource allocation, and curriculum (including more school counselors, social workers, school psychologists, and bilingual educators and staff members); (ii) creating a culturally responsive curriculum; (iii) building a strategic collaboration with our cultural communities, our families and school leaders to engage in a conversation about equity, to identify problem areas (be they racial, socio-economic, or LGBTQ+ inequality), to set goals, to create action plans, and to develop metrics by which progress can be tracked. We must develop a holistic approach to address the disparities around race, socio-economic status, geography, and identity. A zip code, an ethnicity, or an immigration status should not determine the quality of a child’s education and our actions as a school district should be to proactively work toward the elimination of that bias.
EXPAND ACCESS TO STEAM OPPORTUNITIES
STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) connects learning in STEM with the practices, elements, design principles, and standards of the Arts. Adding the Arts provides the critical components of creativity and innovation to STEM education and guides students toward improved application, creation, and ingenuity. STEAM education encourages students to make interdisciplinary connections and engage in hands-on, experimental learning that teaches persistence in problem solving and critical thinking, mechanisms to gather and process information, and skills to evaluate evidence and make decisions. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in occupations related to STEAM will grow to more than nine million between 2012 and 2022. Our future leaders, educators, and work force will need to be fluent in the attributes and skills taught by STEAM disciplines. And, the hands-on experience that STEAM provides has the potential to open new pathways to students who discover an aptitude or passion for a previously unknown subject or skill. It is, therefore, imperative that the tools necessary to teach these essential skills be available to every child, no matter where they live or which school they attend.
EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
There needs to be a shift in our thinking with regard to early childhood education. From birth to age five a child's brain grows more rapidly than at any other time in life. The social, emotional, and mental benefits of preschool programs should be equally as important as the economic benefits they provide to parents as daycare centers. Preschool teaches children how to "do school," ignites a love for learning, and places them on a path for future success. Making programs like preschool accessible to children of all socio-economic backgrounds is vital and should be included as an integral part of our current K-12 model.