Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Graduated from University High School, 1986
Bachelors of Science from EWU, 1991
I have worked on education policy within the Superintendent's Work Group on Restorative Practices for the past 3 years.
I also have combined 12 years experiences from various board governance positions I've held.
I would bring diversity in several ways. I was raised in a blended family from parents who came from working class families. They were able to provide a stable household and the basic necessities with their good union jobs. In addition, my family is Mexican-American and I grew up in Spokane rarely seeing anyone in a professional capacity that looked like me. This is needed as Spokane continues to become more diverse and the next generation needs to see leaders that look like them. In addition, I have advocated on the individual and systemic level for improvements to special education because our family lives with autism, as I have a daughter on the spectrum. That is missing voice in our current district leadership and an area needing systemic improvements for the students and teachers. I believe the leadership needs to reflect the community and often our school board is made up of good-meaning and affluent folks from the same part of town that represent the same perspective.
The cuts to the budget will create challenges this coming school year. Teachers will have to do more with less supports. This will affect students supports, special education and quite possibly morale. I hope we can build more community partnerships to help address what's needed at school but will benefit the whole community.
Second, students and teachers have shared that safety is of huge concern to them. I appreciate the district taking the step to get a safety audit. I believe we should spend our money on evidence-based resources that have been shown to make schools safer and and will be proactive in helping to prevent prevalent concerns like bullying, mental health crises and suicide.
Third, we must continue to help more students and staff feel a sense of belonging in our school district by investing in classroom supports, special education practices improvements, intentionally addressing systemic racism and continuing to improve community engagement.
I believe with these budget cuts we need to work hard this year with the legislature to find budget solutions that are equitable and sustaining. We need more revenue at the state level! I will champion this with our state legislators. In addition, I think our families and community partners must be engaged with to know what we can do as community members to help out this year. Our kids are our most important resource for the future, we must come together and support our schools this year. Our teachers must feel the support of the community. Parents can volunteer to help with the extra burden teachers will have without the same level of custodial help. All community members can sign up to help read to children. These are just a few examples of school specific volunteering.
Safety is critical for our students and educators. I support the use of evidence-based practices and resources that academics in school violence have identified. These include a public health approach to preventing school violence and include things such as mental health therapist, improving school climate by addressing bullying, addressing racism and providing Social Emotional Learning, and providing supports like social workers and counselors. The Washington Education Association had safety as a legislative priority and included these types of resources. In addition, a survey to families in our district showed that having armed personnel in our district was very divisive. It's reactive, expensive, negatively impacts some students more than others and doesn't get at root causes of school violence. I believe we should invest in evidence-based solutions.
As a leader of the Every Student Counts Alliance, this is the work I have engaged the district in over the past three years. Suspensions do not improve student behavior or make school safer. It is an adult decision to student behavior and disproportionately impacts students with special needs and students of color. Our district has made some significant improvements by training all staff on Restorative Practices to address lower level behavior, we have created staff positions to help educators address behaviors in a systematic way. Students continue to exhibit extreme behavior, sometimes resulting in injury to staff, continue to be isolated and restrained in our district at numbers far above other school districts. We must invest in resources and trainings that help staff address behaviors more quickly and in ways that minimize the use of suspensions and isolation. This includes the use of trauma-informed practices and intentionally supporting the diversity of students in our district.
I believe with these budget cuts we need to work hard this year with the legislature to find budget solutions that are equitable and sustaining. We need more revenue at the state level! I will champion this with our state legislators. In addition, I think our families and community partners must be engaged with to know what we can do as community members to help out this year. Our kids are our most important resource for the future, we must come together and support our schools this year. Our teachers must feel the support of the community. Parents can volunteer to help with the extra burden teachers will have without the same level of custodial help. All community members can sign up to help read to children. These are just a few examples of school specific volunteering. In addition, I hope we can continue to work on improved special education funding from the state level. Special education improvements creates improvements for the whole community.
Technical training is important for our community. We have a need for skilled labor that is currently unmet. Our district has a stated goal of Technical, 2 year and 4 year learning for graduating seniors. However, when my children were in school, they seemed to only really focus on four year aspirations and had all the kids share what college or university they planned to attend in the future. We can do more at every level to elevate the technical and 2 year goals and career choices and lessen the stigma of these choices. This includes community engagement with those representing those career fields to connect with students and staff and help define our community needs to meet the technical and skilled labor education requirements.
I believe we have some caring and hardworking staff addressing the diversity of needs in our district. I talked with a homeless student recently, they (their preferred pronoun) are a self-advocate for homeless and foster care issues. They said one thing we can do is work to destigmatize who kids are, that they are more than these labels. This particular student was not allowed to go to the comprehensive high school most convenient for their homeless status despite they had an excellent GPA, had no credit recovery needs and had no behavioral issues. It was just assumed that they needed a special high school. This kid has written legal briefs! They ended up at an alternative school that was not convenient for a homeless student with physical disabilities, but none the less, they persisted. This points to the need for community engagement with those who have these needs and develop authentic relationships. Public school is open to everyone and that there can be no discrimination.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Elementary Teacher: Cupertino Union School District,
Elementary Teacher: Spokane Public Schools,
Coordinator: Bite-2-Go Program,
B.A. Sociology, Gonzaga University,
Teacher Certification, Gonzaga University,
Masters of Education in Literacy, Gonzaga University
Spokane Public Schools deserve a diverse board of directors, with each member contributing unique experiences and perspectives. As a board member I will bring the voice of a teacher, volunteer, and parent.
Eight years of classroom teaching gives me insight that other board members cannot bring to the table. The most well intentioned policies and procedures will have unintended consequences without the input and feedback of someone that has spent and continues to spend countless hours in our schools.
In addition, I am the mother of two young boys who attend Spokane Public Schools. The decisions that I make as a board member will impact my family on a personal level. This makes my commitment to my board position even more of a priority.
A long-term, sustainable budget that provides funding to educate the whole child will be my top priority. However, the budget drives many of the most pressing issues facing Spokane Public Schools. As a board member I will focus on mental health services, safety and security, and class size.
Mental health services are necessary in all of our schools. Currently the State funds 5 nurses, 58 counselors, 1 psychologist, and 0 mental health professionals for our almost 31,000 students.
Those numbers show that the State doesn’t understand what it means to fully fund education. I will spend time lobbying at the State level for increased funding for these services. In the interim I will advocate for grants and relationships with community partners that will help provide mental health services.
In addition, I will support school staff as they integrate the new social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum that the District has purchased for middle school and high school. The SEL curriculum was enthusiastically piloted and adopted by administrators and teachers and will be rolled out to students in the fall of 2019.
As a board member I will advocate for a well researched and thoughtfully adopted elementary SEL curriculum.
School culture and environment are the number one factors in maintaining safe schools. I will continue to support educators in their push for strong school communities.
Basic student needs must be met for children to feel safe and ready to learn. This includes feeding hungry kids, providing counseling for students that have endured trauma, and helping children that experience violence or bullying at home and at school. To provide these services we must partner with community organizations to provide, multi-generational, wrap around services for students and families.
A safety and security report conducted by Safe Haven International was recently released. It offers many suggestions for increasing security at Spokane Public Schools. I would like the opportunity to discuss the report with other board members, provide a Thought Exchange for community members, and develop a diverse committee to implement short-term goals and develop a long term safety plan for our schools.
Just like academics, discipline needs to be differentiated for specific students. What works for one student might not work for another. We need to provide our administrators, teachers, and staff with a wide variety of discipline options and allow them to use their professional experience, training, and common sense to assess specific situations and keep all students safe and academically focused.
The District has spent a lot of time building their Restorative Practices program. This is a successful discipline approach for some students. In theory and for people who have not been a classroom teacher, Restorative Practices may seem like a good, system-wide approach to discipline.
However, with the increase and severity of negative behavior in our schools, we must allow and support our teachers, administrators, and staff to use all district approved discipline options. If not, the District will lose dedicated, highly qualified teachers from trauma and burnout.
We need to redefine what it means to educate the whole child. Public schools have been given the responsibility of providing much more than just reading, writing, and math. Schools have been tasked with feeding hungry kids, providing counseling for children faced with trauma, and providing services for mental health issues. We must advocate at the state level for increased special education funding.
Spokane is unique in how dedicated and supportive it is of the public schools. Levys have passed easily each time they are put on the ballot. If we are going to maintain the city’s support, we cannot ask for another levy in the near future .
As a board member I will support raising the levy rate, by board action, to $1.71, which has already been authorized by voters. This will increase funding by 42 million dollars.
According to the Bureau of Labor, “Employment in associate’s and postsecondary nondegree-level occupations is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the 7-percent average projected for all occupations.” In addition, “5 of the 10 fasted growing occupations don’t require a college degree.”
For almost ten years the District has put time and resources into building the NewTech Skills Center. The Skills Center is an option for high school students focused on advanced technical and professional training. These offerings allow students to take classes and experience first hand how business and industries operate. In addition, these students remain at their “home” high school for three periods a day, allowing them to make important connections with peers and school leaders. The NewTech Skills Center is a great opportunity for students to learn technical skills and earn college credits, saving families time and money.
As a district, attention must be given to recruiting and retaining teachers, principals, and administrators with diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. In addition, professional development must be provided for employees that are serving these populations to ensure they understand the link between racial identity, trauma, and social and cultural experiences and school related behaviors and academic success.