Why are you running for school board?
I am a progressive, multilingual, millennial immigrant who is deeply committed to social justice. I have spent my career advocating, lobbying and fighting for public school students, educators, families and schools. I have a personal history, and deeply held belief in social justice and experience in Milwaukee Public Schools.
My platform focuses on what matters — putting the health and safety of our children, families and educators first in this pandemic; fighting for full funding for students with special needs and English language learners; committing to anti-racist and culturally relevant teaching; protecting public education from privatization; creating a culture of shared decision making; and building inclusion for women and gender-nonconforming students.
What in your background or makeup especially qualifies you for this seat?
I have proven experience working with our educators, students, families and community partners. My experience includes serving as the community schools coordinator at Bradley Tech High School, working in youth employment, and most recently helping grow MPS STEM programs in K-8s and high schools. I have successfully advocated for progressive policies and investments in every space I’ve worked in.
My lived experience as an immigrant and woman of color brings an intersectional perspective that can be helpful in finding collaborative solutions that represent our diverse student body.
What are the most important issues facing the board — and your district in particular? What do you think should be done about these issues?
The current most pressing issue that MPS faces is the COVID-19 crisis and what happens once all of our educators are vaccinated and back in the building. To be clear, schools should not re-open until community spread is controlled and vaccines are widely available. Ensuring the health and safety of our students, families, teachers and staff means we will need to provide sanitization products and personal protective equipment. Generations of underfunding for our schools have meant that MPS is dealing with old ventilation systems, lack of appropriate space for distancing and shortages in key staffing areas to support our students. We need to focus our budgets to put resources into protecting the education workers that will be with our children when they return. This includes supporting additional staffing for school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, paraprofessionals and other staff to assist our teachers and students who have lived through a remarkable, but also traumatic time in history.
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?
Thanks to pressure from student organizations, community groups and MPS educators, as well as significant push from current school board members, the district has put important policies in place in the last year. This includes requiring the MPS administration to give monthly updates on progress in fulfilling the goals set forth by the OCR, the increase in restorative practice and ethnic studies staff in the current year’s budget, continued promotion of the restorative practices professional development, the expansion of community schools, and the school board’s recent directive to require mandatory anti-racist professional development for all staff. As a board member I will remain vigilant to ensure that these positive developments continue and deepen. In particular, I will promote the expansion of community schools, which address the multiplicity of issues that impact the disproportionate disciplining of Black male students. I look forward to working with students, parents, community members and educators including the MTEA and PAMPS [Psychologists’ Association in the Milwaukee Public Schools] to end disproportionate discipline of not only Black male students but of all students of color, male and female.
Do you agree with MPS’ decision to keep most students in all-virtual instruction until April? If not, how would your plan be different?
I believe that we should keep all instruction virtual until our educators are vaccinated. We can start talking about reopening schools once we have community control of the virus and widely available vaccinations, as well as strict social distancing measures that reflect CDC guidelines and updated ventilation systems ensuring the health and safety of our children, educators and staff.