Here are some of the questions I have been asked since launching my campaign in May 2020:
1. Why do you want to become a member of the TCAPS Board of Education?
My own children attend TCAPS elementary and middle schools, but I’m running for the nearly 10,000 children in this district -- to help TCAPS prepare them for college, careers, and life. Serving on the TCAPS Board of Education would allow me to apply my professional skills, my experience working with students, and my interest in making a difference to benefit the district. I have spent years preparing for this role by volunteering in the classroom, tutoring and coaching students, attending board meetings, and listening to teachers, parents, and the community at large about what matters most to them. As a working parent, I have additional insights to the challenges that students and families face in trying to “juggle it all” and navigate an increasingly complex world. I also have public and non-profit board experience, including the University of Michigan Alumni Association of Greater Washington, DC, and Michigan Legacy Art Park. In addition, with the explicit intention of running for school board, I sought -- and received -- a fellowship in 2018 through MSU’s Michigan Political Leadership Program to learn more about various issues, including education, facing our state.
I am deeply committed to public schools as the foundation for a healthy community and a vibrant economy, and as the great equalizer in our society -- transcending gender, race, economic, and other circumstances. Quite simply, our children are our future, and public education is our investment in the prosperity and well-being of our nation.
2. What do you see as the three most important issues facing TCAPS?
(1) Supporting students “where they are” (at all levels of academic achievement) and helping all students reach their potential
(2) Boosting the social-emotional well-being of our students
(3) Strengthening TCAPS communication, community input, and board governance
3. Do you have aspirations for higher office? If elected, are you planning to use the TCAPS Board of Education as a "stepping stone"?
No and no. School board is the only elected office I have ever been interested in because it marries my professional background and my personal interest in serving our community and particularly our youth. Furthermore, as an employee of a non-partisan congressional agency (GAO), I cannot run for a partisan office. I love my "day job," and I have no interest in pursuing an elected office beyond school board, which is non-partisan.
4. What is the single-most important personal quality or strength that you would offer our school board and, therefore, our district?
On the surface, that may not sound like such a powerful word, but it encompasses many qualities that I believe are important for a good board member, in both an analytical approach and professional conduct -- weighing the short- and long-term costs and benefits of different scenarios and outcomes, open-mindedness, civility, and giving credit where it’s due as well as identifying areas for improvement. I bring a wealth of analytical experience and approach my work (including board service) by seeking and considering a wide range of information and sources, without a predetermined agenda or mindset. Before making any decision, I thoroughly research a given topic, and I value others’ perspectives. I recognize that in most cases, no one outcome will satisfy all stakeholders, but a carefully considered and balanced approach -- and communicating with the public our reasons for a given outcome -- is essential in building consensus and trust.
5. What do you believe is the primary role of a school board?
To set policy, hire and provide direction to the superintendent, oversee the district’s operations, make major decisions (such as approving return-to-school plans, safety protocols, and capital improvement expenditures), and approve an annual budget for the district. [It is not, however, the board’s job to manage the district.]
6. Are you aware of the per-pupil foundation grant inequities in the state? What action do you see yourself taking as a board member to advocate for equitable funding for TCAPS students?
Yes, and I would see myself as supporting TCAPS in advocating for greater funding for public K-12 education in Michigan (in general) as well as closing equity gaps. I believe that in addition to lobbying Lansing, however, we could do more at the local level by engaging our community more--which could, in turn, elicit their support in advocating for more funding. For example, I would love to see our new Superintendent and key staff hold a couple of Town Hall-style meetings every year, on both sides of the district, to inform the community of TCAPS’ major challenges, progress made and additional steps the district is taking to overcome those challenges, and how the community can help. Specifically, for instance, building a more robust volunteer program to tutor and mentor students would help us meet our students’ academic and socio-emotional needs.
7. What is your position regarding transparency in reporting for charter schools that receive public tax money? Should they be required to report the same as public schools do?
Any institution receiving public funds must be accountable for its use of such funds -- which includes transparency in financial reporting (or any other type of reporting to which public schools are subject).
8. What are your views on collective bargaining in the public school setting?
Collective bargaining is an appropriate part of negotiations between a school district and its employees to ensure fair pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Teachers and other staff are the backbone of our public schools, and their interests are important in ensuring TCAPS offers the highest-quality education possible at the greatest value; we also want to attract and retain talent in our district. Most of the workforce in my own agency is covered by a bargaining unit, so I have seen first-hand how collective bargaining can work effectively with management.
9. Is there anything additional you would like the community to know about you?
TCAPS is a great district, offering a number of excellent programs and opportunities for our students at great value, and I want to help TCAPS build on its strengths, overcome challenges, and be parents’ first choice when selecting schools for their children. I am really excited to serve the TCAPS community on the Board of Education, and I am ready for the job on day 1.