"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."
Graduation on-time and Ready
We’ve made tremendous progress in improving graduation rates and now stand at an historic high of 90.2%, which is well 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. This 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.
Student & Community Safety & Wellbeing
Addressing the increasing violence (especially gun violence involving our youth), mental health challenges, economic barriers, homelessness, and food insecurity is the responsibility of our entire community, not Tacoma Public Schools alone. It will take innovative partnerships with community-based programs and policy leaders. Tacoma Public Schools has built a foundational approach through our Whole Child Initiative, which incorporates and models self-awareness, self-care, and individual responsibility teaching our students to recognize and express their emotions with respect and honesty. This also includes a restorative justice disciplinary process that empowers students to engage in offering solutions via highly successful peer-to-peer guided work. Our Whole Child Initiative is nationally acclaimed and is credited with being the foundation of our academic success as seen in the cover story of Newsweek on November 18, 2022.
For the positive impacts of Tacoma Public School's Whole Child Initiative to spread, we must embrace an integrated Whole Community Initiative. I am currently accomplishing this by leveraging the work of the Joint Municipal Action Council (JMAC) (a coalition of elected officials and chief executives from eight Tacoma/Pierce County public elected entities). In 2021, I led JMAC through an innovation assessment and planning process to design the pathway to create a more innovative and anti-racist community. In 2022, I guided JMAC through a focused implementation successfully addressing multiple key aligned strategies following our three interconnected themes:
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI)
Health (Physical, Emotional and Mental) & Safety (Security and Policing)
Community Wealth Building
For more information on JMAC's work visit.
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.
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. The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically highlighted the ever-present burdens on working parents when child care isn’t available or affordable. 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.