Our school system is integral to our community. To ensure happy, academically successful children I will advocate for:
Healthy schools, healthy students – Well-maintained buildings and policies that promote the physical and mental heath of all who are part of the educational system to ensure optimal learning. This includes ensuring that schools have proper mental health services; that we consider options that promote wellness, like late school starts; and that we provide guidance to students on topics such as the proper use of device use, technology, and social media.
Prioritize educators – We need to do more to keep teachers teaching and to find ways to incent individuals to join the educator ranks. Reducing educator benefits may reduce budget outlays in the short-term but will end up costing the county in the long-term when the national teacher shortage worsens. We need to provide educators with an income that allows them to thrive in Howard County. The county should also support HB1180/CH0140, which provides loan repayment assistance to teachers. We also need to provide relevant and quality professional development with teacher input.
Community representation– Ensure that the decisions the board takes reflect the input of all of Howard County’s community members. I will work with the administration to ensure that our communications reach as much of the population as possible. This may mean reaching out through social media sites like WeChat and WhatsApp, arranging in-person meetings with grassroots leaders, and tapping parent advocacy groups, to use a few examples.
Educational equity– HCPSS has made progress in reducing the achievement gap but work remains. This gap leads to higher dropout rates, lower post-education wages, increased poverty, un-/under-employment, and social/emotional risks. A number of data- driven interventions with proven success could help break this cycle. These include:
1) Pre-K – based on 22 studies, children under five who participated in classroom- based early childhood education programs were less likely to be placed in special education, less likely to be held back a grade, and more likely to graduate from high school compared to peers who were not in such programs;
2) Educator diversification and support – research shows that when students of color have a teacher of color, attendance, academic achievement, enrollment in GT courses, and lower disciplinary action result. Teachers of color also tend to stay longer in high-needs schools, which brings more stability to the school.
3) Implicit bias training & community building – African American, Native American, Latinx, and special education children are disciplined at much higher rates. Training will help correct these inequitable rates of suspension;
4) Engaging, reflective curriculum – students do better when they can see themselves and their cultures in the curriculum. As a professor, I’ve seen firsthand how transformative this relatively simple effort can be in awakening a student’s curiosity, engagement, and academic success.