Investing in our schools. As enrollment in Alexandria’s public schools grew steadily over the past decades, our aging school buildings became increasingly overcrowded. Years of under-investment in school infrastructure led to leaking ceilings, inadequate ventilation, and classrooms with mold. Since joining the School Board, I have advocated for accelerating the modernization of our schools, timely and effective routine maintenance, and improved communication with stakeholders. Our children and teachers deserve a safe and healthy environment to learn and work.
Focusing on what children need. A year of virtual instruction has shown us that computers and screen time are not the optimal way to learn or teach. We also know that “teaching to the test” stifles our children’s imagination and love of learning. Instead, students need access to a robust curriculum and hands-on learning to ignite their curiosity and support their growth. Reading and writing remain fundamental skills for student achievement. As we recover from the pandemic, I will continue to advocate for student access to high-quality textbooks and rigorous content, a K-2 literacy initiative that emphasizes phonemic awareness and decoding, a focus on teaching students the craft of writing, and more project-based learning opportunities. Struggling learners deserve timely, research-based interventions and wraparound services. Any use of digital tools should be grounded in evidence of their effectiveness and tied to specific curriculum needs. To support students’ health and well-being, I will remain a steadfast supporter of expanded opportunities for physical activity, exposure to nature, social and emotional learning, and healthy food initiatives in our schools.
Ensuring equity for students. Every student deserves the tools and resources they need to succeed, but for many of our students their needs have been historically disregarded. It’s a troubling problem that too many students of color are left out of advanced academic coursework and instead face higher rates of discipline and suspension. Black students are four times less likely than white students to be enrolled in ACPS’ Talented and Gifted (TAG) program, but are two times more likely to experience out-of-school suspensions. On the School Board, I helped develop a new strategic plan that will ensure academically capable students have equitable access to ACPS programs regardless of race. The new plan will also strengthen restorative practices to build healthy, trusting relationships between teachers and students and resolve conflict as it occurs.
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 I will continue to support competitive compensation and meaningful professional learning opportunities for all of our instructional staff. Our teachers are uniquely positioned to know the needs of our students and school division, and I will continue to listen to and elevate the voices of our teachers.