Q&A Follow-up from HoCo School Interest

The Facebook Group HoCo School Interest had a online forum followed by a q&a.  Here are the answers to the questions that I was not able to get to during the week.  Thanks for reading.

Q:  In light of what happened in Glenelg today, how will you work to realign resources to support the work of the Diversity office and what curriculum changes will you seek?

Moving forward we need to take the 52 recommendations from the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and directly align them to staffing requirements and budget priorities.  Each recommendation should be given an implementation timeline, a projection of the budgetary needs for implementation, a corresponding staffing requirement for implementation and then that should be incorporated into the budget moving forward.  This will begin to align our priorities for equity with our financial plans and capabilities.

Additionally, we must begin at younger ages to build community, bridge gaps, tear down community barriers and build civics, social justice, acceptance, and compassion.  We must teach the value of all people.  We must build cultural competence.  We need all our schools to layer lessons on social-emotional health and what it does to a person when they are bullied or demeaned.  We need to add social skills, citizenship, and digital citizenship to our curriculum.  These will require additional investment – to include professional development of our staff. These are investments I plan to support.

Q:  Research is abundant regarding the detrimental and sometimes deadly effects / consequences of social media. What policies would you support implementing to address this issue within our schools?

My views on social media, digital citizenship, and classroom technology/BYOD are evolving just as the technology itself is.  I have begun researching curriculum changes that would allow the school system to continue to use technology in the classroom and at the same time build our children’s skill set for social skills, both in-person and digitally.  One of the programs I have recently looked at for a k-12 digital citizenship is: https://www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship.

Whatever the final policy looks like for technology in our schools and classrooms, I always want the teacher to have the ability to implement the more restrictive environment if that is what is required for that classroom.  In other words, even if the school system allows students to continue to bring in and use their devices in school, I want each teacher to have the ability to say “no, that is not happening in my classroom.”

I would like to see period of high social engagement have exactly that—social engaging.

With that being said, I hope we find some room for the introverts in our schools.  Not every student relishes the loud, chatty lunch room or the overstimulation of constant interaction.  We need to make sure that when introverts need to reboot and recharge they have the opportunity to do so.

Q:  Do you believe our schools should have more armed security guards and/or armed teachers?

No, I absolutely do not. We should not be arming teachers.

I also do not believe that we need increased security guard presence at our schools.  The presence of armed school resource officers often has the unintended consequence of criminalizing juvenile behavior.

Q:  While gun control legislation is not directly within the purview of the BOE, the NRA has spent the last few decades cultivating candidates from the local level to reach the stranglehold the federal government finds itself at today. For that reason and as a counter to that, it is important to me not to advance any candidate that does not have a clear, articulated position on gun violence prevention. Please provide your position on gun violence prevention in relation to schools, the community, the state, and the country at large.

I strongly support sensible gun-reform like that advocated by Moms Demand Action.  I support the following changes to prevent gun violence:

  • Background checks on all gun sales
  • Red Flag Laws: This policy empowers family members and law enforcement to petition a judge to temporarily block a person from having guns if they pose a danger to themselves or others.
  • Keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
  • Banning Bump Stocks and other rapid-fire, high-volume modifications of arms.
  • Eliminate sales of automatic and semi-automatic weapons
  • Sensible gun safety and gun safety education for all people licensed to own a gun.

 

Q: David Larner recently attended one of our PTA meetings and we discussed the expansion of sites that will offer food for our students during the summer break. It is my understanding that there will be 4 sites this year and they are only offering 1 meal. I also saw a flyer for Anne Arundel County Public Schools and they have approximately 13 sites (4 of which are mobile) that offer breakfast and lunch. What are your thoughts on expanding this program to include more locations and possibly mobile sites?

I support the expansion of food provision to students over the summer.  In particular, with the relative inaccessibility of the food bank, we need to bring the resources directly to community where families can have easy access, including mobile sites.  I am acutely aware of the need for food programs and our student’s food insecurity in this community.  Independent of my campaign for BOE, I am taking over the coordinator position for Blessings in a Backpack at Swansfield Elementary School for next year.  It is a program that provides food to children on weekends when school is not available to be their primary source of nutrition.   We do not have the resources to feed every child who is hungry, so when we can as a school system, step in and assist—we should.

Q:  Do you think Title 1 schools need more financial resources from the county than non-Title 1 schools? If yes, what would that look like in Howard County? If no, why not?

Yes.  Title I schools and Middle/High Schools with similar populations should receive resources proportional to their needs.  It does and should look like additional differentiated staffing positions to be leveraged by individual school principals in a way that they believe will best benefit their students.  It should look like robust programs to provide food, mental health services, access to community-wrap-around services, enhanced health services, and more for the at-risk populations in schools with high socio-economic needs.

Q:  Do you support the current program Dr. M and Allan Kittleman just implemeted with the beat officers patrolling schools? Also, what do you think the biggest differences are between SROs and regular beat officers in Howard County?

The increased community patrols of beat officers was poorly executed—with insufficient collaboration with the Board of Education, the teachers, and the community overall.  While these officers perform an important safety function in our community, they are not trained to serve in the schools with an eye towards cultural competency, racial tensions, and a specialized skill set that we expect of our school resource officers.  I have significant concerns that increased police presence in our schools will lead to criminalizing general student misconduct – as numerous national studies appear to indicate.

The biggest differences between beat officers and SROs are that SROs receive additional training in dealing with teens, cultural competency, and must meet national guidelines for their placement compared to beat officers, who do not receive those additional skill building and are focused on law enforcement instead of community building.  It is the difference between engagement and enforcement.

.