Why are you running for school board?
I believe I can address many of the inequities at MPS more effectively as a school board member. After 20 years of teaching for Milwaukee Public Schools I am aware of issues that need to be addressed. I will vote for positive policies that affect the children, staff and families of Milwaukee School District 4. I currently have grandchildren and other family members who attend Milwaukee Public Schools. A love for children, my family and my community makes improvement of Milwaukee Public Schools my self–interest. When the Milwaukee Public School District meets the needs of our children it makes my community better. A stronger school district will empower our youth to succeed in all future endeavors.
What in your background or make up especially qualifies you for this seat?
I have been a resident of the Milwaukee Inner City since 1970. A former welfare recipient, I am a single parent of five. I have been a Habitat for Humanity Homeowner since 1989. My professional experiences are as an Outreach Home Detention Case manager; Community Organizer; Church based leader with MICAH as a member of Cross Lutheran Church; and extensive service to youth as the co/founder-coordinator of a youth support group for 22 years. I taught at Milwaukee Public Schools from 1998-2020. Prior to teaching I was a community leader and activist. I have developed relationships which will enable me to negotiate and collaborate with those who are willing to aid in creating effective changes in our MPS schools.
What are the most important issues facing the board — and your district in particular? What do you think should be done about these issues?
There are a number of issues which need to be addressed within the Milwaukee Public School district. There are two issues of importance I would like to see addressed. The first is low academic scores of our students throughout the district. The second is enrollment and attendance. These two issues have become more intense since the Covid-19 Pandemic. Once the schools are opened to in-person learning, students will need additional services to improve academics. The District will need to make available resources for tutoring. I propose after-school programming and weekend tutoring. I also propose summer school at numerous locations to allow students the opportunity to earn extra credit or pass failed course work. There will be a need for smaller classroom sizes to insure social distancing, due to Covid-19.
Enrollment and attendance are key to funding. We need to have more alternative programming for high school students within MPS. An alternative school for students who are parents or MPS contracting with Day Care and Head Start for MPS students. A program by which a student could bring their child would have a positive impact on attendance.
Not all students in the 4th District are college-bound or interested in going to college. MPS currently emphasizes students testing to be college ready. MPS also needs to have programming that encourages students to enter trades and technology fields. Students, based on their interests, need to be prepared for employment that leads to a livable wage career, whether it be via college or trades training.
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?
The district is making efforts to address disproportionate disciplining of Black male students but it is a very slow process. My last years as a teacher at an alternative high school, our professional development sessions emphasized the need for other means to be put in place to replace suspension and expulsion of minority males. A program in collaboration with a community-based organization was implemented at the school to reduce the injustices to students of color. It lasted one year. It showed signs of a positive approach; however, the district did not renew the contract. I want to see the district attempt this approach again with more schools. I would definitely bring the proposal to the district when elected to the school board.
I would also propose that the district contract more Violence Free Zone Teams for schools in the 4th district. I have witnessed the team mediators as very effective in deterring violence among students. They are able to identify and defuse negative situations in a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach. They are a positive replacement for having police in the schools.
Many students of color have been deemed special needs students, especially those with behavioral issues. This begins the pipeline to prison and the district needs to decrease placement of students with special needs. There are far too many students of color in Special Education classrooms. There need to be more inclusive classrooms with co-teaching to reduce the labeling of students as special needs students.
Finally, I would work with organizations, both community and church based, to determine other options which can be effective in eliminating the Pipeline to Prison for our students of color. Prior to teaching I was a community leader and activist. I have continued relationships which will enable me to negotiate with those who are willing to aid and lobby in creating effective changes in our MPS schools.
Do you agree with MPS’ decision to keep most students in all-virtual instruction until April? If not, how would your plan be different?
Yes, I agree.