In 2022, three seats on the school board are up for election. Below is information on the candidates that have responded to JPEF's request for information. We encourage you to visit their websites and attend events ahead of the election on Aug. 23 to learn more about them and where they stand on the issues.

Candidates

District 2

Elizabeth Anderson

April Carney

District 4

Darryl Willie

District 6

Tanya Hardaker

Charlotte Joyce

Forums

JPEF will be holding candidate forums for Districts 2 and 6. District 4 is an uncontested election, so we will not be holding a forum for that district. The District 2 forum will take place on June 30 from 6-7:30 p.m. The District 6 forum will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on July 12.

 

Register for June 30, District 2 Candidate Forum

Register for July 12, District 6 Candidate Forum

District 2 Candidates

Elizabeth Anderson (incumbent)

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Background

Elizabeth Andersen is a former Duval County Public Schools educator, current small business owner, mental health counselor, wife and mother. Andersen obtained her bachelor of arts degree in English with a concentration in Psychology from the University of Florida. After graduation, in search of a meaningful and fulfilling career path, she decided to become an educator. Andersen taught in Alachua County for one year, but ultimately found her future at home in Jacksonville. She continued her teaching career in Duval County, while completing her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling at the University of North Florida. In 2011, she made a career shift from teaching to counseling. In 2018, passionate about bringing more focus to addressing the mental health of students, she ran and was elected to serve on the Duval County School Board. Today, she owns a private mental health practice where she specializes in counseling for teens and parents, serves the community as the immediate past Chair of the School Board, and cherishes spending time with her 5 year old son, Cooper. 

What are your priorities for Duval County Public Schools?
Protecting students, respecting families, and providing excellent public education.
Why did you choose these as priorities?
As a mental health counselor and former teacher, I know student safety is much more than the hardening of schools and campuses. We also must provide a safe, warm, and welcoming environment. Students must feel protected, included, and cared for to learn at their maximum potential.

Parents know their children best. What works best for one parent may not work for another. As the custodians of education, it’s our responsibility to create a public education system based on values that work for the highest good of all students while respecting the unique needs of each child and family.

An excellent education is critical to preparing our children for the challenges of life. That means we must recruit and retain excellent teachers for every classroom. Additionally, we must provide robust activities like arts and athletics that engage the whole child and stimulate students to reach their full potential.
Although school board members are elected by district, they make decisions for the whole of Duval County, which occasionally leads to conflict. What is your approach and philosophy for making decisions in this situation?
We are only as strong as our weakest link- as a system of schools it is imperative that we challenge ourselves to improve and meet the needs of all students across Duval County. We must provide an education according to our children's needs and allocate resources respectively to succeed in these efforts. As a life long resident of Jax, former DCPS teacher, and community based counselor, I have had the unique opportunity to spend time in more than half of the schools in our District and sit with families in homes across the city. These experiences have influenced my philosophy and impact my decisions as a Board member. I love Jacksonville and want all of our schools and children to be successful because this positively impacts all of our diverse communities.
Over the last few years, the Florida Legislature has had a significant impact on local public education. What are your top issues at the state level, and how would you work with legislators in Tallahassee to represent the needs of our students?
My top priority has been and will continue to be ensuring safe schools where our children can thrive and learn. In order to do this, I believe we must continue to advocate for fully funded and fully staffed Public schools where our students have access to complete and representative curriculum and school cultures. I have been honored to work closely with School Board members across the state to advocate for these issues. I served as the legislative liaison for our Duval School Board for 2 years which allowed me to collaborate on legislative platforms at the District, State, and Federal levels. I have travelled to Tallahassee and Washington DC to meet with our local delegates and to testify and advocate for, or against, a variety of legislative issues. The nonpartisan role of the school board is sacred to me, because it allows us to rise above party politics and put the needs of children, parents, and communities at the forefront of discussions with leaders regardless of partisan affiliations. Our children do not sit on either side of a political aisle, and as a Board member I am here to put kids first.
Please provide a description of how you would differentiate between the governance responsibility of the school board and the management role of the superintendent.
The School Board sets the strategic direction, establishes policies, and oversees the budget and spending of the District in order to serve the tax payers who support our public schools and the voters that elect us to represent them. The day to day operations and implementation of these policies and programs is the responsibility of the Superintendent and her staff. Through policy, strategic planning, voting on agenda items, and evaluating the Superintendent, the Board works to be responsible stewards of your taxes and public school system. Building cooperative relationships and having healthy communication with the Superintendent and staff we are able to be successful as a united Team Duval. When the boundaries of our roles gets blurred, the staff, students, and engaged community suffer from miscommunication, misunderstanding, and miseducation- adults become distracted with adult things and lose sight of working together productively in the best interest of our kids. Research shows that school boards that stay in their lanes and focus on positive educational outcomes for students have successful students.
Duval County, like many other school districts in Florida and across the nation, is suffering a teacher shortage that is especially acute when it comes to diverse teachers. What are some strategies the district can employ to retain and recruit more teachers, and especially teachers of color?
The District can and should foster opportunities for current students to explore potential career options in education, work with colleges and universities to support education programs and provide recruitment incentives from a variety of higher ed institutions with diverse student populations. The District can and should partner with community organizations and nonprofits to engage with our schools and provide career pathways for individuals with an interest in education. The District can and should work with private organizations committed to diverse and highly effective educator staffing. The District can and should help teachers with certification through support and mentoring with diverse populations. The District can and should ask and listen to current teachers and administrators to understand challenges and opportunities for improvement. The District can and should provide teachers and staff with professional wages, benefits, respectful working conditions, and opportunities for personal and professional growth and development. The District can and should stand up for and be supportive of the profession and the critical role teachers play in caring for and educating the next generation.
While Duval County has made great progress in education, there are still students who are falling behind. How would you maintain a focus on addressing inequities in student performance and supporting schools in low-income neighborhoods?
The Board and District should continue to look closely at disaggregated data to help identify specific needs of student populations across the county and work strategically and responsibly with tax payer dollars to improve efforts and implement initiatives where they are needed most. Beyond the data points and dollar signs, we need to talk to parents and families about what they believe their children need to be successful, and the obstacles that impede their progress and development, so we can learn how the school system can best meet these needs. Additionally, we can work with city and state officials to bring awareness to nonacademic barriers that extend beyond the school yard, but which we know inhibit families and students from reaching their full potential.

District 6 Candidates

Tanya C. Hardaker

Biography
I am third generation Floridian who is proud to call Jacksonville home. I am a product of the Duval County Public School system, graduating from Stanton College Preparatory School. It was there I met my future husband Andrew (Andy).
The first in my family to attend college, I received her BS in Accounting from the Fisher School of Accounting at the University of Florida. I was employed in corporate accounting for many years before turning my focus on raising my family and supporting my community.

Andy & I have a total of seven children — biological and adopted — all of whom are proudly enrolled in DCPS. I am a firm believer that public education is the foundation on which to build the American dream, and I feel that it is imperative that every student have access to a free, safe, and engaging education.

I have been deeply involved in my children's schools, serving in PTA leadership roles for several years at officer levels. My involvement within the school system has helped me understand the unique and challenging positions teachers face, as well as the difficulty parents face in advocating for their children. As an active member of the Jacksonville philanthropic community, I have been involved with the Ronald McDonald House, Rotaract, Riverside Avondale Preservation, Jacksonville Main Library, CarePortal, and many other local non-profits.

Our family is very passionate about foster care and adoption. I currently manage Seek Refuge—a support community for local foster and adoptive families at my church. The group builds community, hosts continuing education, and fulfills tangible needs, such as clothing and household supplies, for foster placements.

The Riverside/Avondale-area has been our family’s home for more than 20 years. When I'm not actively involved in Duval County classrooms, you will find me on the sidelines supporting my childrens’ various activities, or volunteering in my community for those who need it most.

I am more than ready to bring real change to the Duval County Public School Board, and I am excited for the opportunity to advocate for “every school, in every classroom, for every student, every day.”
What are your priorities for Duval County Public Schools?
Financial Accountability and Transparency, Literacy Achievement, Student Safety & Mental Health
Why did you choose these as priorities
Taxpayer dollars must be managed carefully and thoughtfully, with the greater good of all stakeholders in mind. The DCPS two billion dollar budget, along with the recent half-penny sales tax, are huge responsibilities that the school board is obligated to accurately administer. I plan to use my corporate accounting background, to ensure that public funds are spent effectively and sensibly.

This is the first normal full school year that our third graders have had since their Kindergarten year. After several school years impacted by the pandemic, we must make sure that our students are reading at or above grade level. As a school board member, I will support the districts comprehensive reading program as well as professional development for teachers.

Now more than ever, we must administer an approach to education with the "whole child" in mind. Mental, social and emotional safety is of key importance to the formation of our children and teens. As a school board member, I will support community, business and faith-based partnerships that encourage the wellness and safety of our students.
Although school board members are elected by district, they make decisions for the whole of Duval County, which occasionally leads to conflict. What is your approach and philosophy for making decisions in this situation?
We are better when we work together, than when we act apart. Adults must collaborate towards the greater good of this community, striving for success to better this school district for ALL of our children. Cooperation is key for effective leadership, to ensure that resources are allocated in an prudent manner districtwide.
Over the last few years, the Florida Legislature has had a significant impact on local public education. What are your top issues at the state level, and how would you work with legislators in Tallahassee to represent the needs of our students?
Policies and legislation should aid all Florida schools with programs to boost math and reading loss due to the pandemic. Our state must do better to recruit and retain highly qualified teachers by providing additional funding. As a school board member, I plan to work with groups, like the JPEF, Duval County PTA and Florida PTA, to assess best legislation resolutions for our stakeholders.
Please provide a description of how you would differentiate between the governance responsibility of the school board and the management role of the superintendent.
The school board must put into place the strategic plan for the school district. The school board hires the superintendent, empowered to carry out that strategic plan through day to day operation. Then through dialogue with community stakeholders, the school board will give feedback to superintendent on execution of the strategic plan. It is important to know how my constituents feel from my district, along with how well the schools are performing in my area.
Duval County, like many other school districts in Florida and across the nation, is suffering a teacher shortage that is especially acute when it comes to diverse teachers. What are some strategies the district can employ to retain and recruit more teachers, and especially teachers of color?
Every business needs a positive culture and supportive climate in order to retain employees. Teachers need professional training and resources to do their job, as well as feeling valued and appreciated by staff and parents. DCPS can support mentorship programs of first year teachers, so they feel connected and welcome.

As a mother of children of many different colors, I want my children to see teachers who look like them. I am excited about the initiative that JPEF is working on to recruit and retain teachers of color. As a community member and school board member, I want to find a way to strengthen this initiative for our diverse schools in Duval County.
While Duval County has made great progress in education, there are still students who are falling behind. How would you maintain a focus on addressing inequities in student performance and supporting schools in low-income neighborhoods?
Every student in every zip code deserves a safe environment in which to gain an education. DCPS must provide structurally sound and safe school buildings, fully functioning cafeterias with healthy breakfast and lunch, along with arts, physical fitness, and emotional support. Children spend a majority of their week day at school, so schools should be empowered to care for the whole child's academic, social, mental, and physical wellbeing.

DID YOU KNOW?

 

87%

of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2018-2019.