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Experience (300 characters max)
Responsible for long term strategic planning to bring projects to completion within time and within budget for a billion dollar public company. Managing multi-million dollar budgets to keep expenses down, issuance of two rounds of public company issues bonds to get the lowest price.
One of the most pressing issues facing the Vancouver Public Schools is improving student learning for all students. One of the priorities for Vancouver Public Schools is the district's commitment to finish on-time and within budget to improve all facilities and add new buildings to meet the educational needs of its students. This initiative is funded by the $458,000,000 bond measure approved by the voters in early 2017. I want to be part of the process since I have a elementary child in the Vancouver School District. I want to be there to assure the public that these improvements are working and that students are benefitting from these resources. In addition, to ensure that Vancouver Public Schools receive funding additional construction assistance, the state legislators need to pass a capital budget so that eligible school construction projects can also happen. I want to be a part of ensuring that VPS students benefit from these expenditures.
The education system needs to always be looking at different ways to increase education opportunities for their students. Vancouver Public Schools offer a wide variety of programs of choice for their students and families. Vancouver Public Schools offer magnet schools and programs of choice within the public school setting. An example of increasing opportunities is the District's plan is to construct a new facility for iTech Prep on the WSUV campus and expand the enrollment capacity at Vancouver School for Arts and Academics. It is my view that Charter schools are another option to increase educational opportunities for students, but come at a cost to local districts by taking resources away to help fund the charter schools. It is also my view that Charter schools must be established and operated within the oversight of an elected school board to ensure accountability to the local taxpayers for the use of their tax dollars.
My view is that all students should have classroom based assessments so that teachers understand the academic strengths and weaknesses of their students. Testing directly benefits teachers and students with timely feedback and should be made a priority, but caution the over testing of students. I support the Vancouver School District approach to streamline required tests so that more time can be spent educating students and not to waste precious instructional time. There also needs to be a balanced approach to student testing to focus on continuous growth in learning over time instead of utilizing one test to determine the students academic strengths and needs. Students should also be offered the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned by other means such as presentations and/or projects, etc.
The American Pediatric Association supports 8:30 am or later start times for highschools. Due to increased costs, later school start times have been implemented only by a small percentage of U.S. schools. My view is that if VPS moved the start times for highschool to match the elementary and middle schools start times, then VPS would need to purchase new buses and drivers to support the later start time at a cost of approximately $12,000,000. Changing the start times may come at the expense of scheduling afternoon athletics and extracurricular activities, and may also burden working families. I believe that VPS should continue to monitor the research on start times and the views of the internal and external stakeholder to periodically access whether changing start times should be a priority.
The on time graduation rate for VPS for 2017 is projected to reach 82%, which is up from 64% in 2010 with African Americans and Latino students making the great gains. Continued raising of graduation rates requires collaboration among families, schools and the community. Poverty and mobility issues continue to be a struggle. There is over a 51% poverty rate in Vancouver. As a strategy to combat poverty and mobility issues, I support the VPS initiative to establish Family Community Resource Centers in poverty affected schools and a mobile FCRC for schools without those centers. FCRCs are intended to keep students in schools and help families stay in one place. Through partnerships and donations, the FCRCs provide students and families access to basic needs assistance, early childhood education, childcare, after school programs and parent support. FCRC's are in approximately 18 schools and I support the continuation of this program to expand to other schools.
My view is that improved reporting to administration is one key to eliminating bullying. Social media has complicated the discovery of bullying. Vancouver Public Schools has a zero tolerance for bullying. One of the strategic goals of Vancouver Public Schools is the "safe and supportive" schools, which reflects the communities belief that all students deserve a learning environment that is free of harassment and intimidation. VPS has implemented restorative justice practices as well as teaching appropriate conflict resolution and problem solving skills at the secondary level. VPS also has a $3 million dollar federal grant to train teachers on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support ("PBIS") with the goal of improving social, emotional and academic outcomes for all students.
As part of the rollout of the new state law civics requirement, my plan, as a board member, is to stay apprised of the changes by attending district work sessions, meeting with the superintendent and making periodic visits to schools. I believe that the community and local government play a pivotal role in helping students realize real world civics experience. Students may volunteer to serve the community so that they become engaged in the community to learn about local government and the issues facing Clark County and our community.
My view is that there are times when disruptive students need to removed from the classroom. Students should have a safe climate to learn and resources need to be available to assist teachers and administrators in dealing with disruptive behavior. Using PBIS and restorative practices reduce the need to remove disruptive students from the classroom. I support mitigating disruptive student situations to address problems and reduce conflict to keep students in school as long as possible.
Experience (300 characters max)
Over 16 years in public education, including 14 years as a classroom teacher.
Like all public school districts, Vancouver Public Schools has a number of pressing issues it faces: infrastructure, appropriate funding, achievement gaps, etc. However, I believe the most pressing issue that VPS currently faces is the number of students living in poverty. Half of our students receive free or reduced lunch. More than a thousand are homeless. This has been, and will continue to be VPS’s biggest challenge. The district is already doing a lot of good work to address these issues. VPS has been a leader in creating Family and Community Resource Centers, which help meet the basic needs of students and their families by providing food, clothing, and other resources. In addition, VPS also provides early learning programs to help prepare some of our most vulnerable students, so that they can start kindergarten ready to learn.
I am opposed to charter schools. While I welcome the innovation and flexibility that charter school proponents often espouse, Vancouver Public Schools is already doing just that. VPS is proof that we can have innovation, creativity, flexibility AND accountability and oversight. The Vancouver School of Arts and Academics and iTech Preparatory are excellent examples of innovative schools that were created with leadership and initiative from the school board, district administration, teachers, families, and labor unions. VPS has demonstrated, again and again, that public schools can offer families choice without siphoning public funds into private hands.
As a teacher, I understand the important role assessments play in education. We regularly use tests to gauge student progress and inform instruction. However, I have also seen firsthand the many negative ways high stakes testing impacts our students. I have seen months of instruction spent on test prep, rather than the content and skills students so desperately need. I have watched students struggle through one-size fits all tests that don’t adequately show their growth or demonstrate their true talents. I have known too many high school seniors – bright, capable students – fail to graduate because just one test score was too low. While state-wide, standardized tests can be useful for identifying broad trends, I believe they should not be used to assess individual students. The best assessments are those that are used to help students grow, not hold them back or punish them.
As a high school teacher, I believe that secondary schools should start no earlier than 8:30am, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. There is simply too much research to show that adolescents and teenagers need more sleep, and do not learn as well with early morning start times. I have certainly seen this firsthand with my own students. With elementary students, the research is less compelling and the results of studies are somewhat mixed. While I understand the challenges that delaying start times can cause with regards to transportation and scheduling extracurricular activities, the benefits are too irrefutable to ignore. If we’re committed to providing our students with every opportunity to succeed, delaying start times for secondary students is an easy choice.
One way we can increase the on-time graduation rate is by improving attendance for students. Washington state ranks near the bottom nationwide in terms of student attendance.Thankfully, VPS has already identified attendance as essential to student success, and we need to continue the district focus on improving attendance. Another important piece is early childhood education. Research has shown evidence of achievement gaps as early as 18 months of age. Early childhood education can drastically reduce those gaps, and will ultimately result in increased graduation rates. Again, Vancouver Public Schools has shown itself an innovator in this area with its Jumpstart Kindergarten and Evening Preschool programs. The success of these programs is undeniable, especially when you consider that research also shows early learning can save $7 or more per student over the long run. So, not only does it help increase the graduation rate, it also can provide significant savings over the long-term.
Bullying should be addressed at every level: student, family, staff, administration. The problem of bullying is too pervasive and too dangerous to ignore. Schools should adopt curriculum that teaches students how to identify bullying behavior (both their own and from others), as well as positive communication skills. Furthermore, there should be a process by which students can report - anonymously if they choose – any bullying they witness or experience. Teachers should also receive training in identifying and responding to bullying. Finally, schools should have adequate counseling staff to help teach about and respond to bullying.
Personally, as a social studies teacher, I don’t believe the state does enough to prepare our students as informed, engaged citizens. By law, schools are required to provide 90 hours (roughly ½ hour a day) of civics instruction for grades 1-6 and another 90 hours for grades 7-12, for a total of just 180 hours of instruction for their entire public school experience. This is just not enough, and is evidenced by the deficits of knowledge I've witnessed in my classroom: high school students who can’t name the three branches of government, identify 1st amendment rights, or even explain why we celebrate July 4th. VPS is more than meeting the state requirement for civics education, but it is a requirement that is too little and too easily met. I would like to see civics education at every grade level, but at the very least, we need to provide high quality professional development and curriculum, so teachers can make the most of the little bit of time they are given for civics education.
I believe that schools should be using restorative justice practices as much as possible. Creating a safe, supportive learning environment is always paramount. We cannot allow classroom disruptions to go unaddressed, and we absolutely cannot allow disruptions that create an unsafe situation. However, there are many, many steps and solutions that can be tried before suspending a student for a classroom disruption. We have a responsibility, both legally and ethically, to provide the highest quality education for every child. That includes the students whose learning is being disrupted, as well as the student doing the disrupting. If it is a chronic issue, then we need to assess the needs of the individual student and make sure he or she is receiving the appropriate and adequate support.