Q: What is your experience with education?
A: I have over 23 years of experience in education. My master’s degree is in teaching, and I’ve worked as a teacher’s assistant, a substitute teacher and an English teacher at public, charter and alternative schools, with special education (SPED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students and at a variety of grade levels. I also have three children, so I also have the perspective of having been a parent with students in school.
Q: Why are you running for the Zone 1 position on the Beaverton School District Board of Education?
A: I want to give a voice to parents who have been frustrated about the direction that our schools are going. It seems that politicians, bureaucrats and special interest groups have way too much power and influence over what goes on in the classroom. As a result, our children end up being deprived of the education that they truly deserve.
Q: Do you support re-opening our schools?
A: Yes. This last year has been really difficult for many of our students. Some who were already struggling before are now falling even further behind. One and a half school years have now been affected by these COVID-related closures. With every year that a student misses instruction, they get two years behind, so there will be an abundance of remediation resulting from having schools shut down for one and a half years. But I think there are ways that schools can re-open quickly while still remaining safe for students and teachers alike, and ways to get students the remediation they need so further educational deficits do not occur.
Q: Your campaign keeps using the phrase “Build Back Basics.” What do you mean by that?
A: As parents, we keep hearing about our children learning controversial topics like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE). Meanwhile, many of our high school graduates still have to take remedial courses once they go on to college. Schools used to focus on fundamentals, like reading, writing and arithmetic. But instead, social agendas seem to be taking priority over learning the kinds of things our children are going to need to know in their adult lives. I think we need to get back to teaching our students the kinds of things they will need to succeed, regardless of what kind of career paths they take. This includes keeping or bringing back the arts, music and Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, so students can explore their interests and build practical skills which are greatly needed in the working world.
Q: What can we do to help teachers become better at their jobs?
A: A disturbing statistic is that the average career span of a teacher is now five years. Some of the high turnover in the profession is due to political pressures being passed on to administrators, who in turn give those directives to teachers. I think we need to support our teachers by empowering parents and students and creating a cooperative learning atmosphere that is not driven by ideology or special interests.
Q: What are your thoughts on having ethnic studies in schools?
A: Ethnic studies is very much needed in schools. It helps us learn about one another’s culture and heritage and we can find similarities, which helps to unify us. Understanding one another and the culture we bring helps to create tolerance, acceptance and unity, which is what we desperately need in these divisive times. Any curriculum or groups who teach about one race being more dominate or better than another should not enter our schools at all, as that is divisive and breeds racism. In Oregon, we have the Ethnic Studies Law, which encourages learning about others’ cultures and backgrounds. Having a parent advisory committee with parents of diverse backgrounds can help design curriculum that incorporates a diverse view. We also need to have ethnic clubs at school where club days bring out the food, dance, language and stories of the many different ethnic groups that are represented in that school.
Q: What are your thoughts on opening schools?
A: Schools should not have been locked down after it was found in the summer that schools are not breeding grounds for COVID. Study after study shows kids do not get as sick or die from this horrible virus like the elderly. Here in Oregon, not one child between the ages of 0-19 has died from COVID. We have very safe measures to make sure COVID does not spread in schools. Beaverton School District has worked, and still is working hard, to make sure all classrooms have proper ventilation, the supplies needed for cleaning, and more. We needed our schools open back in September.
Q: How will we close the ever-widening achievement gap?
A: For every year that a child goes without school, it will take two years to catch up. Having our schools closed for one and a half year is a travesty to all students, but especially our low-income, SPED and ESL populations. We will need quite a bit of remediation to get them caught up and to close the gap again. We might want to look at the proficiency model where we evaluate where the child is at currently and, based on the results, the child will either be at pace or grade level or will need remediation. As we allow the kids to move forward who are at or above grade level, this will free up money for the kids who need the extra curricular attention to get them caught up. This will mean we need to evaluate our kids earlier rather than later and offer summer courses, as well as remedial courses next fall. As students catch up, then they move up. They do not have to stay in remedial classes once they have shown proficiency in the subject matter that is on grade level. It is a very delicate process, but one that can be accomplished.