Charter Schools and Protecting Public Education
When I graduated from college, I became a teacher in the South Bronx. Teach For America provided me a pathway to work towards educational equity in the classroom.
It was through that experience that I gained a deeper understanding of the challenges our public school teachers face today. Despite scarce resources, constant turnover with staff, unstable school leadership, constant curriculum changes and many other challenges within the our bureaucracy of schooling---teachers are critical linch pins.
I then worked in charter schools for seven years as a founding teacher and founding principal. That work provided me with critical perspective on charter schools, and how hard it is to open a public charter and sustain change for the long-term.
I believe that our charter schools need direct public oversight and MUST be accountable for the same outcomes as public schools. I also think as long as we have scarce resources for public schools, we must be conservative in opening additional public charters in the coming years. I stand against vouchers, and any national policy that depletes any additional resources from our public schools. We must all actively advocate against vouchers options that divert our revenue for public schools into privately managed schools in our city.
As a product of the public school system, I want to keep our schools public and I am against any efforts to privatize this system. Instead I am here standing in front of you, with a stronger sense of how to influence and lead within the burecracy of a large urban school system.
Community partnerships build stronger schools and healthier communities.
Portland Public Schools is an integral extension of our students’ community. With the current and growing diversity of our student population, we must strive to be more intentional and strategic about our community partnerships. There is no shortage of qualified and capable community organizations that share our goal of improving outcomes for all students, but we must also invest in our shared efforts in creating culturally-responsive learning environments and striving for student excellence throughout our school district. In addition to finding the right community partners, we must continue to take steps in supporting our teachers to be responsive to the needs of our students, while finding innovative ways to ensure that more of our teachers and administrators are reflective of our students' experience and cultures.
We must prioritize excellent outcomes at all schools
Our board must engage with our schools in positive and supportive interactions that promote enhanced school performance. We must mine for bright spots and find ways to celebrate and scale change that can have a positive impact on outcomes. In addition, the board must engage in the challenges in productive ways as well. There are facilities in PPS that need robust change and management to address health hazards, staffing shortfalls in programs that meet the needs and interests of students, and misalignments with curriculum. In order to truly address educational equity, the board has to prioritize our energy and resources to increase the work being done in the district that is resulting in positive outcomes, and efficiently set policy to address the challenges and opportunities experienced on the path. The board should do a deep analysis of the current state of the district, and working toward shared solutions to eliminate disparities and integrate performance based thinking.
Effective & Responsible Governance
None of the above is possible without a board that is collaborative and accountable. The board is positioned to set in motion policy decisions that will impact our students today and for generations to come. Our school board needs new, accountable leadership that will not waste time or operate in divisive ways. We must prioritize policy that focuses on increasing outcomes for all of our students, establishes a strong PPS that is responsive to the needs of our community, and creates healthy learning environments at each school.