Prioritizing Education Funding
Because they are ones closest to the needs of school, I would work with the teachers and other school staff to help identify and prioritize unmet needs that exist in the school system. We need to make up any ground still lost since the recession, this includes additional resources in the schools and making up steps in teacher salary. As a School Board member, I would work closely with our County Council, County Executive and Anne Arundel Delegation to allocate additional funds for local schools according to the identified priorities.
Community Involvement and Board Transparency
The transition to an elected School Board presents a wonderful opportunity to further engage parents in the direction of their school system, as well as the opportunity to foster a greater connection between the School Board itself and the school communities.
As a member of the School Board, I will encourage the Board to be more transparent in its processes. I believe that the School Board meetings should spend more time focused on dialogue with the interested parties that attend rather than simply taking up or down votes on blocks of motions. I think School Board members have an obligation to explain their votes when it makes sense and on controversial matters. I also believe that additional transparency on the School Board will encourage people to interact in a constructive manner with AACPS.
Moreover, as a School Board member I will be a notable presence throughout the various school communities. Not only will I attend graduations and school tours, but I will also make it a point to attend PTA meetings in my district as well as attend public meetings related to schools.
As an elected School Board member with a defined constituency I will be able to foster a relationship with my constituency that will lead to increased community involvement with the school system. And as a result, hopefully, the schools themselves.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention
First, to address recruitment and retention we need to figure out a way to make up for the steps lost by our teachers during the recession. We should focus on the retention of our mid-career professionals by rewarding them for their loyalty and sacrifice during the recession because this is the group that will be the future leaders of AACPS. Demonstrating concrete efforts to make the teachers whole will send a message that AACPS is a desirable place to work and this will also help with recruitment.
Second, I would expand our recruitment efforts to develop a pipeline of educators through identification of promising candidates early in their college careers. Additionally, I would encourage concentrated recruitment efforts as situations may arise. The Superintendent’s efforts to recruit teachers from Puerto Rico was a good example of a concentrated recruitment effort to expand in the future.
Third, I would encourage the superintendent to incentivize teachers for referrals of experienced high-value educator candidates. AACPS is a community and our teachers know the demands of the job better than anyone. We should be looking to them to aid in our recruitment in ways that doesn’t add to their already over-burdened job duties.
Lastly, for retention, I would look to build upon current professional development opportunities. And I would look to give teachers more opportunity to explore professional skill development, so they can have a more fulfilling career while staying close to the students.
Professional Development for Educators
Sufficient professional development is essential to having a school system that empowers students to be successful citizens in the future. If our educators are not equipped with the proper tools and training, then they are at a disadvantage from the very start.
A key part of my platform is equipping educators and school staff with the best training and tools available. Not only do I support increased opportunities for professional development, but I would also work to make those opportunities available for all professional staff in our school systems.
I particularly believe that it is important to allow our school staff to be equipped to teach students using emerging technologies. This is essential for children growing up in Maryland where the field of Information Technology is booming and will continue doing so in the future.
While I understand that the cost of these programs must be balanced with the other needs of the school and I further recognize that School Board members take an executive role in certain school matters, these issues are intricately connected to matters of budgeting and I would take it upon myself to ensure that proper amounts in the budget are reserved for the professional development of educators.
I support local efforts to create and support Community Schools. While I believe that all schools should be Community Schools in the sense that they should serve as a hub for essential services, I certainly support the prioritization of creating Community Schools in areas where there is a significant opportunity gap and where poverty is a concern for a majority of the student body.
There is no other institution that ties our community together like the Anne Arundel County Public School System. The school system is the one institution that should touch every family in the county. As a School Board member, I would encourage greater coordination between the county and state services as well as the public-school system, especially for those schools with students demonstrating greater need.