An Independent Voice for Continued Excellence in our Schools
I have spent my life as a public servant, leaving the world better from how I found it. Our public schools are the cornerstone of our community and our children deserve to have the best. I am excited to be part of moving OSD forward by supporting the district's mission and values and supporting efforts to improve equity and inclusion, safety, student mental health needs, and retaining and attracting high quality educators.
EQUITY & INCLUSION
Over the last twenty years, our district has experienced extreme changes on both ends of the economic spectrum. We added gated communities with luxury homes but yet our rates of children living in poverty or homeless grow every year. We've added many youth options for earning dual credit and at the same time have more children learning English as a second language than ever before. We need to continue our focus on equity and inclusion by recognizing and celebrating our diversity by inclusive policies, practices and actions.
Oregon Schools have taken steps toward addressing equity and inclusion by bringing in the Nehemiah Center (with the absolutely necessary partnership with our community partners) to help with leading discussions and education around the issues. This needs to continue with the action plan to institutionalize the concept and practices and to include our community in these discussions. Equity and inclusion knows no borders.
Student and staff safety must remain a priority. Currently, our biggest safety risk is the pandemic. To continue our success as a district, we need to protect the health of our children and our staff, including their mental health. I strongly support making decisions based on science and experts who have community safety as their top priority. So, yes, that means there are people that know a whole lot more about what it takes to keep us safe than me. I am not afraid to listen to experts to guide us. This includes experts in mental health. Our teachers and our children (and really all of us) are facing stress that is unprecedented. There are experts to help us through this as well and we should lean on them.
When we return to school buildings, and we will, we will return to our old worries about school safety. School safety is most dependent upon relationships between students and staff. Students who feel like someone at school cares about them are less likely to engage in school violence and more likely to report unsafe situations to adults than can intervene. I support a holistic approach to safety that includes the security measures as well as relationship building.
It is well accepted that children face more mental health challenges than ever before. Children face pressures at home, school and from peers. The district has gradually been increasing its capacity to provide mental health care to students by increasing its student support services. No child should be left behind because of these needs. Much like a hungry stomach interferes with the ability to learn, emotional and behavioral turmoil interferes with success. I support finding additional resources and do additional community building to address these needs.
Retaining and Attracting High Quality Educators
I supported the referendum several years ago to provide funds to a fair teacher compensation package. I continue to support that. But we also know that compensation is only one part of job satisfaction. Teachers I know did not enter the profession to become rich (although it is not unreasonable that they be able to afford to live in the district in which they teach). Inherent in being a teacher is taking joy or satisfaction when you reach a student or hear encouragement from parents or other staff. In addition to fair compensation, teachers need our support. We need to stop demonizing them or blaming them for our latest tax hike. They are the front line of protection for our children, whether it is teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, giving them a hug or encouragement when they are feeling bad, protecting them from a bully, or standing in front of them in the face of violence. As a board membr I will search for non-monetary ways to improve our staff's engagement and job satisfaction.