I’m a career woman with children. My interest in the Arlington County School Board stems from my personal experience over the past couple years with two young children in two Arlington county elementary schools. One of my children has special needs and has an IEP in place – which requires a lot of attention and hands-on involvement with his school and also resulted in my membership in the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee. Being his advocate has inspired me to run for the school board. Attempting to work with the county with my son’s needs, I realized that the people who held positions on the school board had children in college and grandchildren - what is their vested interest in the here, now, and future of the school system? They have many years of experience with schools – but my interest is what is going to happen tomorrow. As a mother with children beginning their school career – I want to give other parents, like myself, a voice and hopefully inspire others to run.
Realigning school district boundaries may not necessarily be the answer. Targeting specific schools with potential overcrowding issues the next couple of years may need to be addressed – but looking to either expand current schools or build new schools are more apt to solve the problems. Something that has surprised me about Arlington county is the lack of subject variety in immersion schools especially in an area that is so diverse in languages and cultures. We have Spanish immersion schools – what about French, Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi or others? If I had the opportunity to send my daughter to a French or Arabic immersion school on the other side of Arlington – I’d take that chance in a heartbeat. If we want to diversify schools – let’s give the parents a reason and desire to want to diversify. We know which schools in our county aren’t as crowded and which ones could be more inclusive – let’s expand our children’s cultural opportunities and access to other languages.
This is an area I think adults are still trying to decipher – let alone children. I always tell my children there are two sides to every story – and what you hear from one person – may not be the complete story because everyone has (and is entitled to) their own opinion. Research is so important – having everything at the click of a Google search is so much different for the rising generation. But they can’t stop there. They need to learn to verify their news by seeking multiple sources, studying history, and questioning everything.
Schools should be a priority at the national and state level. The children are the future. Arlington is one of the few counties in the nation that has not been impacted by real estate struggles and weakened local economies.
Increasing recess time. Various studies have shown that increasing the amount of recess time improves classroom behavior, learning, health and social development. Because of the “No Child Left Behind Act” schools are reducing that time to focus on reading and math. Studies are proving that if you give the kids a chance to get their energy out – the result is better focus. Kids are growing – their bodies crave the outside, fresh air, and the need to practice their social skills. During my ballot petition process, I learned about the use of social media for bullying in schools and its impact on adolescent depression. We need to teach our children to use social media appropriately. This is not only a liability issue for Arlington to be concerned about – it also takes away a child's sense of safety at school and removes the positive learning environment. Parents aware of these situations should have a complaint process in place where they can advocate confidentially for their children.
A passionate 25-year Arlington resident, 19-year APS parent, longtime community advocate, and communications professional, Monique has a proven track record of bringing people together to create positive solutions.
Monique and her husband Mike have three children, two APS graduates and an 8th grader, who have collectively attended the Career Center preschool, Drew Model School, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Gunston Middle School, and Washington-Lee High School.
Monique has effected positive change for students, teachers, and the greater community by working inside schools and across Arlington including:
• 2016 School Bond Co-chair
• South Arlington Boundary Committee
• South Arlington Working Group
• New Elementary School at Thomas Jefferson Building Level Planning Committee
• APS Strategic Planning Committee
• Early Childhood Advisory Committee
• APS Honored Citizen Award
• Arlington Arts Commission
She was also recognized by her church and neighborhood for volunteer work.
Over the next year there will be at least two boundary processes – one for elementary schools and another for middle schools. I see several needs as we try to get in front of our capacity crisis: including long term planning with the county, continued joint APS and Arlington County evaluations of owned spaces and the possibility of acquiring new parcels, more careful projections, and use of the APS strategic planning process to create an academic plan for our growing system.
Through the strategic plan process, stakeholders can evaluate broken academic links in our school system that may be addressed as we grow. We should consider maximizing equity for our options, embracing inclusion so students with diverse abilities can learn together, and giving diversity greater weight in boundary decisions. Additional ideas that could enhance diversity include placement of APS preschool programs and giving our PreK students the ability to stay in some schools if their families choose.
Making the world our students’ classroom is one way to develop active and informed citizenship. Teachers should have the ability to build on the Virginia Standards of Learning requirements and engage students in current events. Giving students the ability to discuss the major issues of the day in a classroom setting will expose them to a diversity of ideas. This will help them become critical thinkers, global citizens, good listeners, problem solvers, and hopefully more engaged students that future employers will value and their communities can count on. More in-depth analysis of current events will give students the tools they need to dig deeper and analyze current events with a critical eye.
Currently 2.3% of the APS budget comes from the Federal Government. Of the current $613 million APS budget, APS expects to receive $14.3 million in federal revenue this school year. Some of that money can be found in the school lunch program (which comes out of the Agriculture Department budget), in Title I funding to support schools that have higher concentrations of lower income students, and some to support special education.
According to some press accounts, Title I, school lunch, and special education funding were not cut in early versions of the administration’s budget. Any future cuts in these areas could put additional stress on supporting some of our students who disproportionately face achievement hurdles. As studies have demonstrated, when students are underfed and hungry in the cafeteria, they are less likely to properly learn and achieve in the classroom.
My top two priorities will be to address APS’ growth and to better enhance the learning environment and academic success for all APS students. To fulfill these goals I will focus on planning that will help us get in front of our capacity crunch and will help shape an academic vision for our growing school system in a budget-conscious climate.
APS currently predicts that our school system will continue to grow at a pace of nearly 800 students each year. Joint school and county planning is needed in a county where just 8 percent, or 2.2 square miles of county land, is owned by Arlington County or APS.
By most accounts, APS is a highly successful school system that has a long history of academic success. While acknowledging this, we must also realize that APS has areas for improvement. We must continue to evolve our academic vision as we move into the future. We must also ensure that we eliminate the achievement gap and that we offer the same opportunities for success to all students.
1210 S Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22204
Born to a family of educators and ministers, with two family churches on the National Historic Registry, a grandmother who taught in a segregated North Carolina public school during the height of lynchings in the American South, and a godfather who served as the President of the United Negro College Fund until his death, the life of Mike Webb was forged in the profession of education and addressing an achievement gap that has persisted for persons of color since Reconstruction, when newly freed slaves were granted access to public schools. Mike Webb has been a leader and change agent for over 35 years in challenging environments from education to finance to military special operations and intelligence to law. He loves the good fight, seeks excellence, upholds honor, fears nothing, and never quits.
In the next decade it is projected that over 10,000 children will join the classroom attendance rolls of our public schools that are already over capacity, and, if we can reliably extrapolate from current and existing demographic data, we can expect that unlike the population growth that has continued to increase the numbers of persons of a majority culture in our municipal population, the majority of the children who will begin education in our public schools will be children of color, who are statistically vulnerable to affliction by a persistent and devastating achievement gap, To immediately confront that emerging crisis I have submitted a proposal to the School Board to invite a successful sponsor of charter schools to create a reverse magnet high school, focusing on raising the achievement of the majority of the kids in our public schools who , unfortunately, fall below the mean. Any other solution will inevitably replicate our past failures.
That process must begin with leadership by example to establish a command climate where truth, guided by rigorous research and disciplined scrutiny is the hallmark. A recent controversy regarding the decision to rename our schools with Washington-Lee High School on center stage provides an opportunity for leaders to demonstrate what right looks like, and I have submitted a proposal to the School Board to sponsor a panel discussion on the life of Robert E. Lee in all of its complexity so that we can truly learn, unencumbered by our own prejudice and unwitting ignorance. The current petition to change the name contains only 3 assertions presented as fact but that are blatantly false. Yet, to date, the Board has refused to acknowledge my request and the press and surrogates for my opponent have decided to villify me as "a white supremacist." Ad hominem attacks are, by definition, a logical fallacy, but they rule the discourse in our political debates.
In practical and demonstrated effect, as exemplified in the recent passage of the education budget for the Arlington County Public Schools for Fiscal Year 2018, national budget cuts will result in our leaders continuing to conduct themselves as whining children, engaging in sensationalized and partisan argument. It is an empirically provable fact that our budget, in excess of a half a billion dollars is bloated and replete with wasteful spending. And our leaders need to learn to act as stewards entrusted with our public fisc. To spend $17 million to guarantee transportation to students K-12 who live only a mile away and in a safe community 26 miles square doesn't prepare our high school bound students to graduate to college and becomes esssntially a jobs program promoting increasing largesse. I have submitted proposals that have gone in acknowledged to align expenditures with our mission and objectives.
My first priority when elected to the Arlington County Public School Board will be to remedy the oldest problem in this public school division which adversely affects the majority of the children in our public school district and that represents an existential threat to this community: the achievement gap, currently a numerated but consistently unappropriated boilerplate “priority” and “standard” in the Arlington County Public School budget towards which our leaders profess to be “continually striving to eliminate” in an effort to adhere to the state constitutional amendment mandate to create “a quality education for all students.”
My second priority, as I stated at the outset of my campaign, is to be “the education precedent,” speaking the truth and refusing to recant because to do so is neither wise nor safe. Let's make America great, again and let's begin that task in the most educated and affluent community in the nation to set the example for others to follow.