Why are you running for school board?
I am running because representation matters. With over 80% of the MPS student body population identifying as black and brown youth who reflect diversity in age, generation and culture, it is my belief that in order to adequately provide each student with a high quality educational experience, we must deliver quality instruction from the lens of which each student can closely identify with. The lens of the youth and communities that MPS serves embodies the lived social, economic, historical, and cultural context in which they more closely identify with. Further, it is important that the Milwaukee School Board represent every aspect of the children, families and communities that they serve. I represent youth, teachers, families and communities not only in the fourth School district but the entire Milwaukee community, and it is that reason why I have decided to run again for Milwaukee School Board District 4 — because representation matters and if it is academic, social, emotional and economic excellence is what we are trying to achieve, we must fight to ensure that leadership is representing those being served!
What in your background or make up especially qualifies you for this seat?
For almost six years, I served as a Special Education and English co-teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools. During that time, I led two district-wide piloted initiatives — the Black Lives Matter resolution to train, promote and teach equity and inclusion, and the Restorative Practice program to encourage leaders, educators and students to understand and resolve conflict and adversity in any capacity. Prior to becoming an Educator, I served as a Community Learning Center Director with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee in the same school that I would later teach at. I’ve worked as a Legislative Staffer on Capitol Hill for former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, and have worked with youth and young adults nationwide in other capacities. I have a bachelor’s degree in social work, one master’s degree in educational leadership and policy analysis and another in urban special education while completing a two-year service commitment for Teach for America Milwaukee region. Lastly, I am the proud single mother of a school-age MPS student and a former member of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association. Furthermore, each and every one of my life’s experiences has been rooted in education, youth development, service and community. My personal and professional educational experiences reflect my life’s principles and values and have equipped me with the knowledge, skills and resources necessary to be successful in my future role as a Milwaukee School Board Director, representing students and families in District 4 and beyond.
What are the most important issues facing the board — and your district in particular? What do you think should be done about these issues?
To name a few, some of the most important issues facing the board and District 4 in particular are: COVID-19 reopening plan; racial/social/academic/economic disparities impacting students throughout the city; the recruitment and retention of Black and Brown educators; overworked, under-resourced, under-compensated educators; underutilization and vacancy of MPS buildings; inequitable funding; increased accountability for the District’s traditional and charter schools; punitive disciplinary policies; support for culturally responsive curriculums, etc. Simply put, there’s so many important issues facing the district and that is why representation is needed to ensure these issues are being brought to the attention of key stakeholders, students, families, educators and communities who are all in positions to change the narrative and create high quality educational and social experiences for all students throughout the District.
Are you satisfied with the district’s efforts to address disproportionate disciplining of Black male students as described in the Office of Civil Rights report? Would you want to change the district’s approach to this issue if elected?
I am not satisfied with the District efforts to address the disproportionate discipline of Black male students. In order to create a more equitable, racially just and restorative district, the district must practice consistency, urgency and transparency in its deliverance of equity and inclusion trainings, policies, practices as well as progress monitoring. It’s a step in a positive direction to lay out plans for racially equitable, inclusive and restorative disciplinary practices, however, it’s another thing to actually implement those named practices throughout the district, holding each and every professional accountable to those policies and procedures.
Do you agree with MPS’ decision to keep most students in all-virtual instruction until April? If not, how would your plan be different?
It is my belief that school should remain virtual for the remainder of the 2020-21 academic school year. Instead of having students back for a month of instruction, putting everyone at risks for contracting the COVID-19 virus, this time should be spent revising each school’s budget, allocating funding to train educators, support staff, administrators, students and families for extensive, rigorous, high quality summer and fall academic instruction. For some, the resources will be present to provide quality academic enrichment support thus keeping those students on a trajectory for academic success. For others, a strategic plan of action will be necessary to address the academic skill deficiencies pre-and-post COVID-19. In order to meet the needs of every student, a solid plan of action is needed and I am unclear. I am not confident that the District has developed that just yet.