"One of my most important jobs on the School Board is to strengthen partnerships with the community and actively listen to parents and families for ideas of how to better address their students' needs. Here are some of the key issues that I'm hearing from you, and I believe that by working together we can address these challenges."
MY TOP PRIORITIES
Graduation on-time and Ready
We’ve made tremendous progress in improving graduation rates and now stand at 89.9%, which is above the state average. As we work to lock in this progress, we must also ensure that all of our students are graduating with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. That means continuing to improve career opportunities for both college-bound and trades-bound students. Increasing graduate rates the final stretch requires finally closing the achievement gap for children of color.
Improving Innovation & STEM Education
Tacoma Public Schools is a national leader in innovative education. We have expanded learning options for students to include Montessori and International Baccalaureate (IB) certificated schools as well as alternative High Schools like SAMI, SOTA, and IDEA all of which provide students with engaging curricula tailored to their interests and career paths. They are key to meeting our goal of graduating more students prepared to enter emerging STEM jobs in coding and engineering. As these fields continue to grow, we must work to ensure that our programs and capacity are keeping pace with the changing workforce.
Expanding Early Childhood Education
I’ve dedicated my professional career to Early Childhood Education policy and have an intimate understanding both of the importance for student development and the gaps in services provided. We can do more to expand access to public Pre-K programs in our community so that more students are entering kindergarten ready to succeed. This pandemic has dramatically highlighted the ever-present burdens on working parents when child care isn’t available. Expanding the availability of high-quality, affordable child care programs helps families as well as children. This is especially important for students in lower-income households, who have the greatest barriers to learning.
The student body of Tacoma Public Schools is 65% students of color, 11% are English Language Learners, 15% are enrolled in Special Education, and 62% qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. I believe that, as a School Board member, I have the responsibility to understand the diversity, equity, and inclusion battle not only in the abstract, but through the lived experience of those “in the trenches” including students, teachers, families, and community partners. This means gathering input from BIPOC, immigrant, low-income, LGBTQ, homeless, special education students, families, staff and community members then creating programs and services that incorporate their perspectives into the solutions.
I firmly believe that racial justice, economic justice, social justice and environmental justice are inextricably linked and must be addressed with a holistic approach. As a Tacoma School Board member, I am laser-focused on undoing institutional racism within our district and building an equitable, nurturing, empowering academic and social environment for all our students and staff.
This task is much larger that Tacoma Public Schools alone. It will take innovative partnerships with community-based programs and policy leaders. I am currently accomplishing this by leveraging the work as Chair of the Joint Municipal Action Council (JMAC) (a coalition of elected officials from Tacoma/Pierce County elected bodies).
I am leading the entire group of elected officials and chief executives of 8 public entities through a six-month innovation assessment and planning process to design the pathway to create a more innovative and anti-racist community. Our work follows three interconnected themes:
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI);
Health (Physical, Emotional and Mental) & Safety (Security and Policing)
Community Wealth Building
The culminating JMAC event on October 15, 2021, will bring together community leaders in these vital thematic areas to give purpose, voice and direction to our collective vision to improve the lives of those most marginalized. JMAC’s restructured mission will shift from an individual governmental entity service focus to one of collaborative innovation designed to collectively address our community’s needs.