The future of every child in Prince George’s County depends on how well they are prepared by their schools and the world around them. While Prince George’s County Public Schools have made progress in recent years, schools are growing more and more overcrowded while still being under-resourced. Teachers and students in District 2 don’t have a way of truly voicing their concerns to those who are elected to represent them. Prince George’s County families deserve better.
As a former middle school teacher and education advocate, I believe I know what is required to prioritize student achievement and fully engage parents in the decision-making processes that affect their families directly. I believe that ALL children should have the opportunity to attain an excellent education, regardless of their zip code, income class, or family background.
Reduce overcrowding and balance school enrollment
Decrease student-faculty ratios to an appropriate quantity and ensure school facilities are sizeable enough to manage the students within their walls.
How and why?
Right now, the schools in our district are overcrowded which is not allowing us to maximize the full potential of our students. This results in a variety of issues, ranging from students being packed into classrooms that are too small to facilitate their growth to students having to wait 35 minutes out of a 45-minute lunch period in line until they receive their meal. During my visits to a few schools in our district, they weren't aware of the different programs, such as FAFSA and scholarships they could qualify for. It’s not that faculty members at our schools don’t care to help out their students; it’s that they are overworked with having too many students to focus on all at once.
Prioritize Teacher Recruitment, Training, and Retention
Raise teacher wages, expand recruitment portfolio, and increase better professional development opportunities.
When teachers earn more money, their job satisfaction increases and they are more likely to give their best efforts in the classroom. When teachers are satisfied, they remain in the classroom, and when they are giving their best efforts, kids are learning at their highest levels. It is evident that teachers are not motivated to work in a public school system that doesn’t compensate them fairly, especially as compared to the school systems surrounding ours. By working with the County Council and fellow Board Members to ensure that the correct amount of money is appropriated to education and voting on a school-system budget that prioritizes higher teacher compensation, we can make progress toward getting all of our educators caught up on their “steps”. Much of our current funding is being spent on positions in our central office without direct evidence of job effectiveness or, more importantly, their contribution to educator and student success. I firmly believe that a strong school system budget prioritizes putting money directly into the classroom.
A statement that you will see over and over again throughout my campaign is that I am running for this seat as a former teacher myself. I plan to take every vote and decision into account based on what is best for teachers and students because my experience in the classroom allowed me to develop a clearer understanding of what teachers and students need to succeed.
I fully support efforts to provide educators with sufficient professional development to ensure that they can deliver high-quality instruction aligned with College and Career Readiness. What good are we doing for our students if we are not ensuring that they are entering the world college- or career-ready? It is worth noting that this professional development (and the resulting high-quality instruction) can only be effective if other sources of support are in place (smaller class sizes, more support for teachers, etc.).
Increase Teacher, Parental, and Student Involvement in Decision-Making
Create a direct line of communication between constituents and myself and increase awareness and accessibility.
I always ask teachers, “Do you know who your school board member is?” The answer is almost always no. I ask parents and students the same question, and I almost always get the exact same answer: no. The reality is that school board members are elected to represent the constituents of their district, but if these constituents don’t even know who their elected board member is, how can their voices ever be heard? I remember being a teacher in a classroom suffocated by regulations that were out of my control, but I had no way of communicating this to the person whose job it was to represent me and my concerns. This should not be the norm. If teachers, parents, and students know that I am their school board member and have a way of contacting me directly, I can and will effectively advocate for their needs and concerns.
This has been a major concern of mine that pushed me to run for this position. As a teacher, I worked in a school where we had less than 5% of parents involved at any given event. Now, as a prospective Board Member who attends many PTSA meetings in my district, I see a similar rate of parent engagement (or even less). I think this lack of engagement is rooted in three major factors: awareness, accessibility, and incentivization.
- Awareness. I believe that many of the parents are simply not aware of the events and opportunities taking place nor do they understand how this would benefit them or their child. We can increase this awareness by ramping up “marketing” efforts (posting flyers, having automated calls, sending letters and listserv e-mails) across a certain area for that specific event or opportunity.
- Accessibility. It’s very possible that many of our parents don’t have a way of getting to the location of these meetings. We should develop a way for parents to engage virtually so that they can still participate and be invested in these opportunities. Additionally, I know in my district there are many Spanish speakers who may not attend events because they fear they may struggle to understand the content being discussed. I am in full support of ensuring a translator is present at any and every opportunity. I want to develop a feedback system that allows for constituents to directly communicate with me and voice their concerns so that I can advocate for them.
- Incentivization. Just like our students often need incentivization to encourage learning, our parents need the same kind of incentivization to encourage their activeness and investment in our school system. As human beings, we naturally want to do things that we know will directly benefit our lives. Along with promoting these various events and opportunities for parents to engage, we must be able to convey the value that this adds to their student’s life. We should also consider implementing real, tangible benefits like tying parental involvement in with the tax system or as simple as serving food and beverages at PTSA meetings.
Broaden restorative practices throughout district and create community schools
Fully support the allocation of funds for the expansion of the Restorative Practices Initiative and Community Schools.
Restorative practices is a philosophy and “framework for building community and responding to challenging behavior through authentic dialogue, coming to understanding, and making things right.” As a teacher in a low-income community, I witnessed the effect of the school-to-prison pipeline on my own students. Restorative practices can be very helpful in shifting the culture of the schools in District 2 to strengthen them internally prior to outside interventions being put in place. I am well aware that this is a real and evident issue in our county as seen in the State Department of Education’s report that 588 PGCPS students were arrested and processed through the juvenile court system. The Restorative Practices Initiative is playing a critical role in disrupting this pipeline and ultimately, the cycle of educational inequity in our county.
I am in full support of local efforts to create Community Schools in areas of concentrated poverty. As a teacher of a school in which 100% of my students were receiving Free and Reduced lunch, I have witness firsthand the impact that community schools can have on families and students. I am especially in support of Prince George's Community Schools Network as it affects several schools in my own district. I am aware that these programs are effective only when there is total buy-in from all parties involved, therefore, I am committed to ensuring that all affected constituents are aware and engaged in this process.
Increase Advanced Placement, Language Immersion, Vocational and Specialty Programs
Provide students with the best learning and development opportunities...
While our school system does have some remarkable academic specialty and career-centered vocational programs, our students deserve more opportunities. Furthermore, students across the county deserve these opportunities; they should not be exclusive to one specific campus. I plan to advocate for more advanced placement, language immersion, and middle college programs in schools in our district. Additionally, vocational programs such as those in the cosmetology or automotive industry can be important for many of our students as a way to gain a valuable trade and be ready for college and their career ahead.
Prioritize school construction and renovation and increase maintenance budget
Ensure teachers and students are in facilities that keep them comfortable and satisfied...
Right now, students and teachers are not satisfied with the buildings they spend the majority of their time in every day. As a school board member, I will demand that every school in the district should have the facilities to deliver the highest quality education to students. This means that our campuses should be clean facilities that have adequate heating, cooling, pest control, mold control, and lead testing. Our students and teachers require complete safety in their place of work or study, and this should be made a priority.