What are your priorities for the district in the coming year? Why and how did you select these issues?
The immediate priority is to make sure teachers and students return to school in a safe and timely fashion. Next it would be to help pass the referendum, help elect pro education candidates for various offices and to make sure teachers finally had a voice on the school board because the better things are for teachers, the better things will be for students.
School board members are elected to represent not only the interests of the schools located in their district, but also the school system as a whole. In the past, this has at times led to conflict among board members. What is your philosophy on this issue? What would you do to keep cohesiveness and communication among school board members?
I would visit schools across the district to try and leans their needs. Currently I teach in district 4 and have taught in district 5 while I live in district 3. Some districts have more needs than others and since as a system we are only as good as our weakest member I would work to make sure those schools received the support and resources they need.
What would you do to improve communication and strengthen your relationships between the schools, parents and community members, especially when a new program or policy is introduced?
It is not just communication between those groups, but it is also between the administration and teachers which is often poor. Sometimes the district initiates policies and does not think about how it affects various groups or people until it affects various groups or people. I would lead the fight to change that.
Then through my Blog Education Matters I have over 30k education conversations a month for over a decade. If I was on the school board it could be ten times that. I am in a unique position to inform the community unlike any school board member has before.
Please check out Education Matters to learn more. www.jaxkidsmatter.blogspot.com
Then I am a big believer in town halls, group meetings and office hours. I will be there to listen and work to make things better for all involved parties.
In addition to voting for school board members, members of our community will also vote on a half-penny sales tax referendum to fund an extensive capital facilities plan in November. Do you support the referendum and capital plan, and how do you plan to engage with it as a school board candidate and member?
Absolutely I support it. As a teacher and education activist I have already written dozens of pieces about why it is necessity and even reached out to the group running the initiative and offered my services.
Over the last few years, the Legislature has had a big 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?
The reality is we must elect pro education candidates if we want to see meaningful change and support at the state leve . I will campaign for them and do all I can to help get them, elected. Then I will continue to inform the pubic about what is going on because I believe they will be shocked and want better. As I mentioned above as a blogger, I already have 30k education conversations a month. As a school board member, I hope my reach will be ten times that and it is my thought informing the people can help positive change can occur.
Duval County, like districts across the country, has a teacher recruitment and retention problem. How do you think our district can address this shortage?
In the short term we have to put in place supports and resources to help teachers succeed and then we have to make sure those same teachers are not marginalized or overwhelmed and that will slow the retention problem. Then we must work on the pay issue and that means electing pro education representatives. Finally, we must recruit teachers that may make teaching a career. It might surprise you but we don’t really do that now.
As Duval County has made great progress in education, there are still students who are falling behind. How would you keep a focus on addressing inequities in student performance and supporting schools in low-income neighborhoods?
Some kids need more time to master the material for them we may need a longer school day or a longer school year. Then we also need more mental health counselors and social workers because quite often why a child acts up or does poorly in school has nothing to do with school.