Fighting for full funding of our schools. As more young families move into Alexandria, our public schools are facing a boom in student population. We need new schools and more space to accommodate our students. We also face an aging school infrastructure; classrooms with mold, schools with broken heating and air conditioning systems, and leaking ceilings are increasingly common. Our city and children deserve better. The reality is that ACPS will require increased funding in the years ahead to meet our basic standards. That’s why I’ve joined with many other parents across the city to lobby our city council to fully fund our schools.
Ensuring equity in our schools. It’s a troubling problem that too many students of color are left out of the best educational programs and instead face higher rates of discipline and suspension. Black students are 4 times less likely to be enrolled in ACPS’ Talented and Gifted (TAG) Program than white students, and are twice as likely to receive out of school suspensions. We must ensure that academically deserving students have equitable access to ACPS educational programs regardless of race and expand Restorative Justice Practices throughout ACPS to build healthy, trusting relationships between teachers and students and resolve conflict as it occurs.
Promoting a safe, healthy, and active learning environment. As a parent of ACPS children, I know first-hand the importance of recess during the school day. The learning and socializing that takes place on a playground is as valuable to a young child as their classroom experience. That is why I have fought to protect and expand recess opportunities and worked with parents and community partners to revitalize the Mount Vernon Community School playground. I also support healthy food initiatives in our schools and policies to mitigate school bus idling to reduce carbon monoxide exhaust in areas where our children congregate.
Restoring a balanced use of technology in our classrooms. Education technology (ed tech) businesses are marketing countless digitized tools for classroom use, and for administrators, teachers and parents, it can be a dizzying flood of programs, websites, and apps. Yet we know that increased screen time is negatively impacting our children’s health and their cognitive and social skills. The use of digital tools should be grounded in evidence-based research of their effectiveness and tied to specific curriculum needs. A data-driven approach to deploying new tools and methods in the classroom can make us confident that we are putting our time and resources into proven solutions, rather than chasing the latest fads.
More learning, less testing. The most important 21st century skill our children need is the ability think critically. A curriculum preoccupied with passing standardized tests robs our teachers of the opportunity to practice their profession and diminishes our children’s love of learning. Excessive testing is wasting instructional time and contributing to high rates of anxiety in our teachers and students. We know students learn better through project-based and inquiry-based assignments and that our teachers are in the best position to assess our children’s learning and growth. That’s why I will support policies that reduce testing and “teaching to the test.”
Supporting our teachers. Quality, professional teachers are the life-blood of every school and competition among school systems for the best teachers is fierce. As an educator and former union member with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), I believe every child deserves a professional teacher and will support competitive compensation and expanded professional development opportunities for all of our instructional staff.