K-12 Education Policy Proposal
Education is a right for every child regardless of race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, or religion.
Education is fundamental in a democracy.
Our schools should be racially and socio-economically integrated. Segregated communities led to segregated schools, which is bad for kids and for society. Richard Rothstein’s work has shaped my understanding that housing policy is educational policy.
We have to actively work against racism, classism, xenophobia, and white supremacy in our schools and social structures.
All children deserve regular access to the arts, libraries, PE, recess, social studies, and science.
Quality teaching is about getting to know each student, their strengths and areas for growth. It is inherently about individualization.
Tangible Policy Changes
Increase the number and percentage of teachers of color.
Increase the number and percentage of principals of color.
Increase the number and percentages of women and women of color in leadership positions in public education.
Improve special education funding and the SPED system overall. We need more resources and training to better serve students with dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, and emotional disorders.
Better serve the English Language Learner community through better data sharing, increased number of teachers who speak multiple languages, diversifying our curriculum through culturally responsive teaching and materials that are inclusive across cultural groups.
Increase teacher pay.
Transform teacher professional development to give teachers autonomy over what they need. Too often our professional development dollars are spent on one-time speakers. The research is clear that this approach does not help teachers improve or lead to improved learning for students.
Lengthen the school year (Oregon currently has the shortest school year in the country). This negatively impacts students in poverty and widens the opportunity gap.
Expand before and after school options, particularly in communities of color and low income neighborhoods. This is a huge issue throughout Oregon, especially in unincorporated Washington County.
Expand computer science in K-12 schools. These courses are disproportionately offered in high income, white neighborhoods.
Increase the number of mental health professionals and resources in schools.
Change our services for talented and gifted students. Our system has by and large ignored this population and defunded most of the programs that existed.
Change our school accountability system which is outdated and not serving students well. Oregon should allow local communities to specify specific targets, and the state should serve more of an audit role. The Student Success Act (SSA) was modeled in this way. Our districts are unique and diverse, and state or federal goal setting does not make sense. We need to move away from emphasizing the percentage of proficient students meeting a specific benchmark, as that leads to our system focusing on students right above or below the cut score. I wrote about my full plan for ‘rigid flexibility’ in Phi Delta Kappan here.
Place an emphasis on early elementary school. Grades K-3 need to have the lowest class sizes and most resources. There is a strong relationship with a child’s ability to read in 3rd grade and a series of important long-term indicants including high school graduation, college attendance, likelihood of dropping out of school, incarceration, and career earnings. Investing in early childhood is one of the best investments our government can make.
What I Believe
I believe in public education. That education is a public good. That a diverse, liberal arts education creates well rounded citizens.
I believe that we know what ‘works’ in education. We need high quality teachers, with manageable class sizes, fair schedules, and fair pay.
I believe we need a system that trusts teachers and listen to them.
I believe we need to elect people with classroom experience.
I believe in community centered schools that engage families and center the lives of students.
I believe in John Dewey’s approach to pedagogy that centers students.
I believe in union workers and oppose the privatization of teachers, bus drivers, custodians, food workers, or any other workers. I am proud to have voted against privatization as a school board member.
I believe that all workers deserve quality health benefits and a retirement system that rewards public service.