I’ve seen it written many times that my motivation to run is simply based on the experiences of my children during school closures and remote learning. While that was certainly the catalyst for my initial advocacy, it is only one small piece of why I chose to run for School Director. Being more involved, and running for School Director, has always been on my horizon but various life circumstances kept me from pursuing it.
Then COVID happened and life as we all knew it changed. Some for the better – I got more quality time with my kids than I ever thought I would as a working parent, and made memories that I will forever cherish. Some for the worse – my kids both struggled emotionally and academically with remote learning, and nothing we did seem to make it “OK” for them.
As the weeks turned into months, I became concerned not just for my children who were struggling, but for all students in the District. I participated in the district parent committees. I joined multiple parent Facebook groups. And when our need to talk about the crisis for in person education became polarizing we set out to have our own Facebook group with the specific intent for respectful and constructive dialogue. As more parents joined our WCASD Families for Brick & Mortar Facebook page, I heard countless stories about the struggles of children and their families. As we learned about the increase in mental health issues and the decrease in child abuse reporting, I began to advocate for ALL students and families who wanted a full in-person instruction experience. As we tried to understand what was happening for our students, we learned that our minority and low-income students were being disproportionately impacted by school closures. We learned that hybrid was a nightmare for teachers and causing them to work far more hours than what they were compensated to do. And many were burning out from the extra hours spent knowing that hybrid was not working for everyone.
We also started seeing some of the cracks in the District that were not noticeable prior to the closures. COVID, our district’s response to it, revealed inefficiencies and problems that might not have surfaced absent the crisis of closures.
All of these issues led me to the decision that I wanted to affect positive change. I did not want to simply complain about our current School Board members, rather I wanted to do something about the most pressing challenge that our Board has ever faced. For those who think my motivation for running is misguided, I will counter with my platform that focuses on both short- and long-term issues.
I want to ensure that schools open fully in the Fall in the most normalized way possible for those families who want that option. I want to ensure that our children who have fallen behind are given multiple opportunities to catch up academically. I want to ensure that child abuse reporting resumes its normal levels so that our children are not exposed to violence for long periods of time. I want to ensure that the mental health needs of our children will be addressed so that they can recover from the trauma of school closures. I want to ensure that ALL children, regardless of gender, race, or socio-economic status, have equal access to an appropriate education. I want to ensure that our teachers are never again required to teach to a screen and a group of students in person. I want to ensure that our principals are never again required to conduct contract tracing and set up quarantine rules.
This is not a one-year platform, nor a single-issue platform. I am running for School Board because I care deeply about our students, teachers, and administrators, and I want to affect positive change. Why is new leadership necessary? Because for the better part of the past year my concerns, and those across the district, have been minimized, dismissed, or attacked. Our administrators need to work with the community they serve, the whole community, and not just those who agree with them. And our School Directors should be working to be our advocates, our ambassadors of goodwill. And when there is discord between the administration and our community they should be working to bridge the gap, not adding bricks to the wall shutting us out.