League of Women Voters Questions & Answers
Educator (2014-present): Middle school teacher, Lebanon; Middle & high school teacher, Lincoln City. Prior work in education advocacy organizations (grant writer, community organizer).
As an educator, leadership experience includes running programs at the building level (co-founding/developing/fundraising for a theatre program, coordinating the AVID college readiness program), Racial Equity Group (co-founder, building; member, district & regional), and serving on the building leadership team.
Even before COVID and the transition to online learning, school districts struggled with disparities in academic achievement. Educators fear even greater gaps upon their return to classrooms. What strategies will you consider to address these increased disparities?
We can address the disparities COVID has exacerbated by reshaping our culture to center student voice, wellness, and equity.
When we engage student voice, we benefit from students’ wisdom about their needs and students deepen their sense of belonging and motivation. Thus, educational outcomes improve.
Prioritizing wellness is essential. We need staff who can support mental health skill-building and implement trauma-informed care. Wellness is necessary for flourishing.
In all of this, we must focus on racial equity and equity for those denied full opportunities and support. Addressing the root, disparities can disappear.
These focuses will enhance existing strengths in academics and school climate to support and give opportunities to ALL.
COVID has shown us the importance of family support in facilitating students’ education. How will you build on this understanding to increase the role of parents in decision making and promote parental involvement in schools?
To improve communication, I recommend having one liaison per family. Families would have input on who their liaison is and how their liaison communicates with their family. Staff and families would have input on setting up the system to ensure equity and effectiveness.
Additionally, let’s bring family voices into the equity work already underway in the district and strengthen communication between that team and the Board and district leadership. Let’s also empower families, supporting the spaces and meetings they might require to engage together and connect to our schools.
Overall, let’s ensure all families have information about decisions being made and more opportunities to give input, likely through the liaison system, parent groups, and generally improved communication channels between the public and the Board.
What is the impact of the pandemic on school budgets and spending priorities? How do you propose meeting these new challenges?
As a district, we can strategically leverage whatever funds we receive by amplifying student voice, empowering families, centering mental health, and working to become more equitable.
Whether we will ultimately receive more or less funding due to the pandemic is unclear, given stimulus support and our weakened economy. It is clear, though, that students’ needs are greater than ever and we need to fund schools in a more equitable way.
I will advocate for changing Oregon’s method of funding schools so it addresses disparities, instead of increasing them. The wealth of a family’s zip code shouldn’t determine the opportunities their children will have in school.
While I support asking residents to continue to support our schools by renewing our school levy, I will also advocate for property taxes to be assessed more fairly. It isn’t fair that folks with modest properties are asked to pay more than their fair share while those with extensive ones are under-assessed.