Photo above is from a story of what I am doing (and the current BOE) to protest the proposed re-write of Michigan's K12 social studies standards, where GOP Senator Colbeck is proposing to literally delete 'democracy' and 'democratic' values, among other things - join us on August 9 at the WISD to participate in the community feedback opportunity. Story showing our resolution (and photo credit) here.
Education is the last bastion of democracy: one of our few institutions that can provide opportunity for all. Our work is to ensure that it does. During my time on the board, I've come to understand what that means in terms of the the kind of supports, services, and programs required to address issues of social inequity, while looking forward to consider what skills our children need to emerge with when they graduate.
Our political climate in this country has compromised democracy. Education plays a foundational role in the preservation of democracy. Who we elect matters. That has never been more clear and more important than it is today.
Our community deserves elected officials that will do their work on behalf of the community they serve - especially those without a voice. In this role, it is our students that help me with the hardest decisions that the Board of Education Trustees are charged with. My first and primary filter that I approach my work is: what is best for our students. That has helped me navigate through some of our most difficult times with confidence in my decisions. It has served me well for eight years. I hope it serves me well for the next four, should I be so fortunate to earn the support of this community and be able to continue to serve on the Board of Education.
A moment to celebrate: in 2015, we wrote policies to create a gun and dangerous weapons-free zone in the AAPS. On Friday, July 27th, after three years of fighting to keep our policies in court, the Supreme Court sided with us - allowing us to keep our policies in place! My statement, and Dr. Swift's can be found here. As I state there, this is a huge win for children and local governance. We don't believe guns belong in schools in Ann Arbor. We have a lot of data to support this position - and we know it's not the entire answer, but it's part of it! At the same time, there are three bills that I now anticipate the legislature will move forward with, as they specifically targeted the policies that I, and my BOE colleagues of 2015, wrote. We will be prepared for Phase 2 of keeping our schools safe. A big part of the work of the board involves being very aware of bills and policies that affect our public schools, and advocating for our schools to help shape better laws. I remain committed to that work!
Our shared values are worth emphasizing. They bring us together and help us do our best work.
- A diverse community adds to the overall quality of life and brings us closer together
- High quality education is our best investment in our future
- Providing opportunity for all to achieve their full potential is a worthy goal to guide our collective efforts in our community
- Respect, civility, and diverse perspectives allow more progress and a brighter future
- How we treat those without a voice says the most about us
- We all benefit from an educated society
A Look Ahead
Over the next four years, I expect that we will need to focus on:
- Providing supports and services to continue our progress on solving for inequities that impact the school environment, which I expect will only increase in the next two years;
- Addressing social and emotional supports in schools that create the caring environment so our students students can be healthy, happy, and explore their interests fully;
- Providing a high quality education for all students, in every single classroom - great teachers, excellent building conditions, and a safe and supportive environment;
- Creating a school culture that values diversity, engenders civility, inspires our best work each and every day;
- Advocating for our schools and working more closely with state leaders so that we can help move Michigan into the Top 10 in the US (we have a long way to go);
- Working across government bodies so that we are moving forward together for a better Ann Arbor - including planning for growth together in a way that accommodates a diverse population;
- Improving how we provide special education services and the special education experience for students and families;
- Achieving an environmentally sustainable district - in culture, operations, and facilities - that achieves Paris Climate Accord goals;
- Providing a financially strong district that can continue to invest in its people, programs, and infrastructure for the long term; and
- Providing education in a way that inspires curiosity, creativity, tenacity, and innovation for generations to come.