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As an Island community parent, advocate and volunteer, I have demonstrated success in making positive change for over a decade. As a professional, I have been a national leader, local mentor, and adult educator within a global pharmaceutical company. For more information visit www.dlein4schools.org
The Mercer Island school district is one of the best performing districts in the state, but we are faced with new challenges and must continually strive for improvement and growth. I believe three big issues facing our district are the need to adapt to the new McCleary legislative decision and its budgetary consequences, the need to implement differentiated learning to support all students, and the need to foster a positive environment for teacher recruitment and retention. Of these, I believe the most urgent issue facing our district is attracting and retaining quality teachers, who are truly are our most important asset and the heart of our schools. To be a truly competitive district it is in our best interests to ensure that our teachers are honored, valued and given a supportive teaching environment through such actions as reducing class size and reducing the emphasis on standardized testing.
I believe Charter Schools divert crucial resources from public schools and programs in the greatest need. I do not believe that Charter Schools have a place in the public school system.
Standardized testing can be a useful tool in assessing district performance and in some cases student performance. However, I believe we are in a culture of over-testing, and there should be a reduction in the amount of testing administered especially at the elementary level. I also do not believe standardized testing results should be an obstacle to graduation, or should be used in the assessment of teacher performance. The current level of standardized testing leads to “teaching to the test” and takes away from valuable instruction time and teacher flexibility.
I support the 2014 American of Pediatrics policy recommendation for start times for middle and high school students no earlier than 8:30 am. As a trained neuroscientist I have the background to evaluate the studies that clearly show a different sleep cycle in teens compared to younger children and adults. Teenagers do not produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin until 11 pm, and consequently stay up later and need to sleep in later to avoid coming to school over-tired. Studies also clearly show better test scores and attendance with adequate sleep. It is my opinion that MIHS students would benefit from a 30-minute delay in start time to 8:30 am, and we will need to find ways to balance a later start time with after-school activities that may be impacted.
The Mercer Island School District had a 95% graduation rate last year, with 90% of those students pursuing higher education. This exceptional result is a testament to the quality of our school district and the active engagement of our parent community. On the other hand, the overall graduation rate in the state of Washington was only 79% with many of the students dropping out after receiving their 11th grade standardized test scores. Because of this I support decoupling high-stakes standardized testing results from graduation requirements. Furthermore, I support the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction recommendation to move standardized testing from 11th to 10th grade, while there is still time to find ways to help students meet the requirements for graduation and better prepare them for life after high school regardless of the path they choose after graduation.
The Mercer Island School District has an anti-bullying policy in place and is fortunate to have the support of Mercer Island Youth and Family Services counselors in our schools. Together we can continue to provide a strong focus on the social-emotional development of our children through the continued implementation of the Second Step Bullying Prevention Unit in our schools. Cultural competency is one area for improvement, through which we can teach our students to embrace and celebrate racial and cultural diversity. Our textbooks and materials need to be selected in a way that will allow each child to see themselves reflected in their day-to-day life. These texts should include portrayals of racially diverse and blended families, families of all socio-economic status, orientation, gender, and children with learning and physical differences.
The Mercer Island School District has already built into their school graduation requirements the civic credits required by Washington State. Washington State History is completed in Middle School and the additional required courses are offered at Mercer Island High School, including a semester of International Studies.
National research has shown shows that a disproportionate number of student suspensions are in students of color, with disabilities or LGBT. Districts that have implemented restorative justice approaches in the classroom have seen a reduction in disruptive behavior and school suspensions. I believe the Mercer Island School District would benefit from adoption of the Restorative Justice Toolkit developed jointly by The Opportunity to Learn Campaign, Advancement Project, American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. In addition, as a member of the Mercer Island School Board I would ensure the district adopts the Restorative Justice Process, recommended for adoption by the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee in March of 2017.
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Staff Attorney, King County Department of Public Defense (2003-present)
Staff Attorney, Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel (1999-2003)
J.D., American University
B.A., Franklin & Marshall College (Business Administration)
2017 Island Park PTSA Volunteer Service Award
Girl Scout Troop Leader
Attracting and retaining quality teachers is the most urgent issue facing our district. Our students are best served by having the most qualified teachers possible. In order for this to happen, the district needs to negotiate a contract that shows how much we value our teachers, and in turn, our students. Currently, our teachers receive some of the lowest salaries in the region. Mercer Island school district teachers and students deserve better. Without attracting and retaining quality teachers as a priority, the district will be unable to meet its mission to deliver a 21st century education that prepares students to convert information into knowledge and create innovative solutions demanded by tomorrow’s world.
Charter Schools are not public schools. There is no public oversight and they do not need to accept all students and provide special education services. I do not support charter schools.
Standardized tests should be used for the very limited purpose for which the specific test is intended. The tests should be used as a tool to make sure our students are learning the information they need. Tests can be used to determine whether we have chosen the best curriculum for our students. Standardized tests should never be used as a part of teacher evaluations or as the sole criteria for entrance into special programs for students. High stakes testing should not be a graduation requirement.
There is no ideal start time that will work for every student.
The on-time graduation rate for Mercer Island is excellent but until every student achieves their highest potential, there is room for improvement. The district must continue to ensure that there are appropriate learning opportunities that meet the unique needs of each and every student. Each student follows an individual life path, just as every student learns in their own, unique way. Quality teachers are trained to meet the individual learning needs of all students. The district must continue to improve curriculum, following the research-based evidence, to meet the learning needs of all students.
All bullying incidents should be taken seriously and investigated. The district has policies that address how these investigations shall be handled. These procedures must be equally applied to all. More importantly, ongoing education and programs for students, teachers, administrators and families must be offered so that students, staff and visitors feel safe in our schools.
The school board's duty is to ensure that appropriate curriculum is provided to our students in order to earn all credits required for graduation. This includes the new civics credit required by state law.
Students should not be allowed to disrupt the learning environment of other students. If a student continues to interrupt the learning environment, then the child needs to be removed from that environment and given another appropriate learning space to complete their work. Once again, the district must meet the unique learning needs of each student. Student suspension for classroom disruption is not an acceptable sanction.