Why I'm running for School Board
Farmington Schools have a reputation for leading with innovation. This has positioned us well for an era of distance and hybrid learning. Our teachers and administrative staff are dedicated leaders, committed to ensuring every student can reach their potential. But our District has an opportunity to be more transparent in decision-making and to improve how academic progress is reported to parents and the community. I believe communication, transparency and accountability are essential to good governance. Today, with students spending less than half their time in the classroom, we need to empower parents as co-educators and advocates for their kids’ learning. Communication and accountability also are key to obtaining the community support needed for our schools in the best of times, but even moreso to weather the coming challenges. Going forward, I believe Farmington Schools have an opportunity to build on our reputation for innovation, to deliver on the promises of our historic investments to help our students achieve more and secure their futures.
My priority areas of focus are:
Fiscal Discipline: Ensure efficient use of funding, and minimize the impact of Minnesota’s impending multi-billion dollar revenue shortfall.
Quality: Empower parents to advance their children’s learning, and improve how Farmington showcases performance.
Trust/Transparency: Grow confidence in the decisions made for schools by improving communication and engagement.
Innovation: Build on Farmington’s reputation for enhancing in-class instruction with innovation and tools that help students achieve more.
For some candidates, running for school board is a stepping stone or a hobby. Not for me. While everyone in this race is dedicated to schools and children, I'm one candidate who has gone deeper on the actual issues and priorities of ISD 192 area voters -- financial discipline, academic performance and getting kids back to school. You know where I stand. You know my character. These articles are posted on Facebook, and provided below for your convenience.
Distance Learning Likely (We NEED Change): (Published October 27)
Distance Learning Likely: At the School Board meeting last night, Superintendent Jason Berg provided an update on COVID-19 impact on our schools. Importantly, he reported there are zero cases of COVID-19 transmission within Farmington Schools, to-date.
Unfortunately, he also reported that the Dakota County “Case Rate” is rising. He anticipates the region will surpass 30 cases per 10,000 people around November 5th.
This is significant, because 30 is the magic number at which the Minnesota Department of Health requires full Distance Learning for all secondary school students (middle and high school). Elementary schools are permitted to maintain the “hybrid” learning model.
Good information is shared in the video below (this topic starts around the 27:20 mark). Berg says the administration is beginning more in-depth discussion with public health authorities in preparation for the eventuality of Distance Learning for affected grades.
While it’s unlikely a transition to Distance Learning would happen overnight -- and nothing has been announced yet -- parents should begin thinking how the this will affect their work and families.
I’d like to thank Board Member, Melissa Sauser for noting correctly that the best, safest place for students is in-classroom instruction. She also notes that the District is well prepared to manage situations on a classroom or school by school basis, and encourages ISD 192 to exercise more independent judgement.
I agree with Sauser 100% here. I’d add that the criteria from the MDH is largely arbitrary -- driven considerably testing volume (which as increased about 70% since mid August). Like Sauser, I believe there are other factors – including actual transmission within our schools and prevalence of actual illness among staff – that could be considered when planning changes to our learning models.
As I’ve stated before, Distance Learning is not a long-term solution, and should only be used sparingly. But the Walz administration is unyielding, and refuses to update it's guidelines and mandates with the latest knowledge.
This election is an opportunity for change at the State Legislature and this School Board. Before voting, make sure you know where the candidates stand… I’ve been clear since the beginning.
Financial discipline required: (Published October 22)
Few are talking about it, but Minnesota schools face a two-punch financial crisis. The first hit comes from lower public school enrollment, which decreases per-pupil funding in State formulas. The second punch will come from actual reductions to K-12 funding that will be necessary for the State of Minnesota to get control of the massive revenue shortfall created by the economic shutdowns and chaotic State Government response to COVID-19.
Actually, blame COVID-19 on both counts. State restrictions on classroom instruction accelerated an existing trend toward homeschooling and private school options. Frustrated parents face real fears about the developmental setbacks that is creating.
To put a number on it, homeschooling in ISD 192 increased 40 percent in 2020. Anecdotally, most private schools now have extensive waiting lists.
To put more numbers on it, ISD 192 lost 176 students or 2.4 percent over last year, compared to about 2 percent reductions statewide. One more number: It means about $1.5 million in lost operating revenue.
We can expect that reduced funding to be compounded by nearly certain State cuts to Education. There is simply no other way to close the $4.75 Billion revenue shortfall projected in May. By the way, many expect that deficit to double when the next forecast is released in December in time for the legislative session.
So, what’s a School Board to do? Well, when candidates were asked by the League of Women Voters what their top two or three priorities would be if they were forced to manage cuts, some of us were more clear than others. My top priorities are simple: Protect classroom resources. That means maintaining teaching staff levels to keep class sizes reasonable. It also means protecting support for special education and paraprofessionals who support teachers and students in the classroom. (You can see other candidates’ responses here.
Now for some good news: ISD 192 has exercised relatively good financial discipline in recent years. The 2015 levy turned out to be a sound investment in maintenance and structural needs. And our District maintains a reserve that can help mitigate some of the impacts we can all expect.
Still, there will be hard choices and difficult conversations ahead. I believe tax increases are a last resort. Which brings me back to that 2015 Levy. When it was thrust on voters, I was frustrated by the appearance of sudden urgency. Parents and taxpayers (including me) felt backed into a corner. As a member of the School Board, I won’t let that scenario play out again. I’ll work for more transparency, greater inclusion and communication, and clearer prioritization in how our financial resources are allocated.
You know where I stand and how I think, because I’ve focused on the issues throughout my campaign. No distractions.
As for some other candidates… in their defense, not a lot can be said in the 100 words or 500-character limits of media surveys (hint: that’s what these posts are for). So, before you cast your vote, I encourage voters to look beyond what's said in the generalizations, to dig deeper to how candidates really think. Reach out to us, and remember we're here to represent your priorities, which means your voice matters most!
Vote only for those you trust to represent your priorities well.
I hope you’ll vote for me. I’ll also encourage you to vote for Jeff Udell (www.voteudell.com), who I can testify shares my concerns and priorities.
Special Education: An ISD 192 Strength (Published October 18)
In these divisive times, it’s easy to focus on the problems we see. But that’s what makes it essential to recognize all that’s going well.
Take Special Education Programs (SPED) at Farmington Schools. Over the past two months of getting out to speak with hundreds of people, a topic I hear about repeatedly – something I know from personal experience – is the high quality of our (SPED) programs.
October is Learning Disabilities Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Awareness Month. Please take a moment to think about the needs of kids with learning disabilities, and also to recognize the work of the leaders who walk beside them (and their parents like me) every day.
Personal Experience: I have three children in Farmington schools. Our 11-year-old was diagnosed with ADHD between Kindergarten and First Grade. We sought the assessment after his Kindergarten teacher expressed concern that he was losing his “spark” for learning. This was Kindergarten.
Everyone remembers their Kindergarten teacher. Kindergarten is our initiation to schooling. It’s purposefully joyful and experiential focused. Somewhere I’m sure there’s a dictionary that defines “spark” as the experience a child feels in Kindergarten. Yet, here we were hearing our child’s spark was fading to his own frustrations. He was tuning out. He was at risk.
Anyway, what we learned through the assessment, put a lot into focus. For example, the prior summer at the Independence Day Parade in Apple Valley, he was excited to see a fire engine. But when the siren blared, his laughter turned to a level of fear you wouldn’t expect from a boy his age, unless you knew that his brain processes certain things more slowly than it does others. In that case, he saw a fire engine, but the disconnect between how his brain processed what he saw and the loud noises he heard scared the hell out of him. Not fun for him or us as parents.
We were told that disconnect was one of a couple factors contributing to his ADHD diagnosis. He’d need some counseling and some therapy, and maybe some medication to help him better adapt to school.
In Farmington Schools, he received that counseling and therapy. ISD 192 is blessed with amazing SPED teachers, support staff and counselors. They are dedicated, amazing professionals. Thanks to them, Evan is doing well in school today, and is successfully transitioning to Middle School. As parents, we’ve found partnership. Together, we all reinforce the values and behaviors needed to help him out at home and at school.
If you’re a parent like me with a child receiving SPED services in Farmington, I hope your experience is like ours and so many others. Please take a moment to thank those supporting our kids this week. And let’s all commit to ensuring students who need these services – and their parents – know what support is available to them.
Final note: For all of us concerned about closing achievement gaps and resolving inequities in education, ensuring all parents know how to access these services for their children must be a key strategy.
COVID-19 and our schools: The science says schools are not "super spreaders." The State of Minnesota needs to update its guidelines. (Published October 14)
During this campaign, I’ve spoken with almost every principal in ISD 192, as well as many teachers and leaders across the administration. I’ve also met with hundreds of parents and students.
The impact of COVID-19, including the incalculable social and economic damage wrought by our State leaders’ policy responses to the virus, weighs heavily on everyone.
A question I’m often asked is whether I support students returning to classes full time. My answer is, absolutely and as quickly as possible. Hybrid and distance learning is not a long-term strategy any more than are economic shut downs. That said, I recognize that many families, teachers and staff have unique health concerns. For them, I support the choice to participate in distance learning models.
These aren’t just my opinions, they’re the consensus of hundreds of epidemiologists, public health officials, medical professionals and education leaders, from The World Health Organization to independent collaboratives, such as the experts who signed The Great Barrington Declaration. These experts recognized that economic shutdowns, including restrictions on education, exacerbate inequities and harm development and growth.
A recent study by the data analytics company Qualtrics reinforces what international experts were beginning to understand back in early May: Children and schools are not super-spreaders of COVID-19. In Minnesota, the data suggest the same. Nearly two months into the school year, only a handful of the more than 500 schools fit the State’s exceptionally low definition of “outbreak” (just 5 students or staff diagnosed over a full 2-week period).
Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health even noted that the instances of a COVID-19 case spreading beyond even one person in our schools is rare. “We’re not seeing large outbreaks at all that have been associated with a school setting,” she said in a recent Star Tribune report.
What does all this mean for returning Farmington students to classrooms this year? Not much. School Districts across the State are required by Governor Walz’s executive orders to follow the rules issued by the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health. These rules direct specific decisions based primarily on the 14-Day Case Rate in each county, an interesting data point but one subject to variations in testing volume and other factors. Until the State amends the guidelines, requirements for hybrid and distance learning models will remain in place.
Until then, I will continue to write my legislators. And I will do my best to support all of our students, as well as the educators and parents making the best of difficult times.
I should add... Under the circumstances, Superintendent Jason Berg and his team have done a remarkable job. When I attended the August 10 School Board Meeting that detailed our 2020-2021 learning plan, I saw an exceptionally thorough set of strategies for nearly every conceivable scenario. It was as creative as it was comprehensive, and it demonstrated incredible compassion for students, staff and families.
It takes a lot of cooperation from many to make this work. It’s a testament to the strength of the students, families and teachers (who are working double-time right now, by the way) in Farmington.
Being part of the solution: It's always been about service (published September 29)
It's all about showing up. I’m running for Farmington School Board because I believe it’s not enough to see opportunities for improvement, you have to get involved… to be part of the solution. These are values my parents taught my sister and me. They were reinforced through Scouting as I earned my Eagle Scout Award. And these values have proven out time and again through 10 years of service in the Minnesota National Guard, and in my professional career.
Running for School Board isn’t a passing fancy, it’s a reflection of who I am. When my now 13 year old, Joshua joined Cub Scouts there were a couple traditions I wanted to see changed. I showed up to the Pack Committee Planning, launching an 8 year volunteer career with the Cub Scouts as Treasurer and Committee Chair. Ultimately, I led my now 11 year old, Evan’s den all the way through to their Arrow of Light Award last spring. I spent priceless time with my kids and gained lifelong friendships along the way.
I’ve also coached Farmington Youth Baseball teams for the past 9 years. I’ve helped teach kids the basics of the game and the value of good sportsmanship. We’ve met amazing families, and have seen a lot of these kids grow up over the years.
I wouldn’t otherwise keep track, but my employer gives grants that employees who volunteer over 30 hours annually can direct to their favorite causes. Because of that, I know that I volunteer over 250 hours in Farmington each year. It’s through THOSE experiences that I've seen the heart and character of THIS community. I’m proud to be part of it.
Since announcing my candidacy for School Board, I’ve attended in-person each of the working sessions and meetings to listen and learn more about the operations and issues facing our schools.
I continue to believe that we have significant opportunities to improve community engagement, communication and transparency. These are keys to growing confidence for our schools, which is essential to solving most of the other concerns voters I’ve met have shared these past weeks – ensuring financial responsibility, closing racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps, and ensuring quality education that helps all students be prepared for their next steps and to be constructive citizens their whole lives.
I will bring over 20 years of business marketing and communications leadership to the school board. Throughout my career, I’ve demonstrated skill at connecting ideas and people to create new opportunities. I’m known for analyzing information and gathering diverse perspectives to form a clear point of view. I keep an open mind and a curious heart, which means I am unafraid to question assumptions in search of greater understanding. These are skills that will be needed to address impending financial challenges and to ensuring all students received what they need to thrive and succeed.
I humbly ask for your vote between now and November 3. You can learn more about me and see my answers to a range of questions asked by voters and media at www.VoteChristensen.com. You can also send me email directly at kyle@VoteChristensen.com.
Thank you for your consideration.
Performance: How do we measure and communicate the quality of Farmington Schools? We need greater transparency. (Published September 15)
We all want quality education for our children, but how are our schools performing? Do our educators, our parents and community, and the Minnesota Department of Education all assess performance the same way?
This post isn’t about the pros or cons of “standardized testing.” It’s about the difficulty parents and taxpayers face accessing reliable information about how their schools stack up. This is an issue of heightened importance in Farmington. Alongside financial concerns, the performance of Farmington Schools on the Minnesota Report Card is the most talked about issue among parents and taxpayers I’ve spoken to.
My experience with the issue of Farmington’s performance in state standards testing dates to early 2019 following a discussion with a good friend who was thinking about moving before his kids got to Farmington High School. Our elementary and middle schools seem to perform well, but looking at the Minnesota Report Card for FHS, you will see a steady downward trend after 2015. By 2017, proficiency ratings for reading, math and science fell well below 50 percent (where they remain today), whereas most area schools were scoring nearly 75 percent. What was going on here?
When I don’t understand an issue well, I dig into the data. I ask questions of those who are knowledgeable. If things don’t seem to add up, I challenge assumptions to seek greater understanding. And if there’s a problem, I help solve it.
I went to then Superintendent, Jay Haugen about the FHS rankings. He heard me out, but didn’t seem to understand the concern. His focus was on data that helped his staff meet the needs of students, not on the public relations problem that the Minnesota Report Card represents.
Through my conversations with Haugen and my own research, I learned that students have a right to “opt-out” of taking the MCA tests, which the State requires districts to administer each Spring. In around 2015, more schools and teachers began advising their students of their right to skip the test. As likely result, these districts, including Farmington began seeing higher op-out rates.
Haugen explained that because the MCAs are administered in the spring, they’re of little value to teachers wrapping up their year. And for many high school students prepping for SATs and ACTs, the MCAs can be a distraction.
So how does a high rate opt-outs impact proficiency ratings in the Minnesota Report Card? One wouldn’t think they'd would hurt school rankings, but they do. Every student who opts out is deemed “not proficient” by the Minnesota Department of Education. There are no consequences for this rating. No one is withheld from graduation. But this flaw in the analysis drags down the publicly reported ratings of our schools.
This statistical bug isn’t hidden, but it’s not widely known either. And that causes confusion for people turning to the Minnesota Report Card to see how well schools are serving their students. Further, it gives an distorted assessment to the people and prospective businesses who may look at it when deciding whether to relocate to Farmington.
So how are our schools doing? Haugen helped me understand the the other metrics they rely on. For example, the NWEA tests administered at the beginning of the academic year help educators assess incoming students and develop plans for the year. He also explained that college entrance exams like ACT and SAT scores provide more complete view of student achievement. According to these measures, students of Farmington Schools, including FHS perform as well or better than the state and national averages.
Haugen and I discussed one way to help parents and the community see the quality of our schools is to improve transparency to the resources he and educators turn to. It may be happenstance, but I was pleased when in January 2020 Farmington Public Schools sent an email outlining much of this same data. A summary can be found in the District Newspaper on page 6.
There’s still more that can be done to showcase the quality of Farmington Schools, but it’s not just about perception. It’s about community-wide confidence in the decisions being made for our schools. If taxpayers don’t understand the value they’re getting for their investment in public education, it may make it more difficult to muster the support for more resources when the time comes.
These are areas where my curiosity, issues analysis and business and communications background can make a difference, and why I’m asking you to vote for Kyle Christensen for Farmington School Board.
Fiscal Discipline: Reduce the impact of Minnesota's impending budget crisis on our schools (published August 25)
Several folks have asked why I’m interested in becoming a school board member. Among the many reasons is the value I place on local and individual decision-making for the issues facing our community.
I’ve considered running for school board before, beginning in March 2015. That spring, Farmington was notified suddenly of a budget crisis facing the schools. Urgent meetings were held. And then Superintendent Jay Haugen released a list of program cuts, which would have increased class sizes and ended key programs. A referendum to raise property was ultimately was approved by voters. But the process left parents, teachers and community members frustrated.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, budget crises don’t materialize overnight. The 2015 crisis was a result of the recently enacted All-Day Kindergarten mandates, for which the Dayton Administration did not fund construction of new, required classrooms. The appearance of urgency locally was due largely to a lack of timely community engagement.
Similar to 2015, we now face a budget crisis. This time, it stems from the State's policy responses to the COVID-19 epidemic. State budget officials forecast at least a $4.7 Billion revenue shortfall. Cuts to education, health and human services funding are likely, along with various tax hikes by elected leaders in St. Paul.
We need to be prepared. And while district communications have improved over the past year, much work remains. I’ve never been one to simply complain from the sidelines. I’d rather be part of the solution.
It is ALWAYS critical to ensure school districts and local governments are spending money efficiently for the greatest impact. This will be even more important as we face considerable economic uncertainty in the years ahead. I’m running for School Board to be part of the solution; to work with parents, the community and educators to provide the foresight to impending issues, and to find balanced solutions for Farmington.
About Kyle Christensen
My wife Lisa and I moved to Farmington/Lakeville over 12 years ago. I'm currently a marketing director with a Minnesota-based managed health care company. I served in the Minnesota National Guard for 10 years (1990-2000). And over the past 8 years, I’ve coached Farmington youth baseball, and led Cub Scout programs at North Trial Elementary School.
Lisa is a leader of the Parent/Teacher Partnership at North Trail Elementary. She transformed fundraising there for extra academic programs. She is now also a substitute teacher. Together, we’ve all experienced the rewards and challenges of raising kids in a fast-paced, digitally dependent environment.
Our daughter, Ella is enrolled at North Trail Elementary School. Our sons Joshua and Evan attend Dodge Middle School. In all, we and our kids have had great experiences in Farmington Schools, and we’ve dedicated much of our time to helping other families enjoy the same.
My promise is simple: To listen and provide a strong, objective voice for parents and community members; to communicate clearly about the issues so we find balanced solutions to any problems we face, and to continue to improve transparency and inclusion in the decision-making processes.
Following are answers to key questions I've received from voters and media outlets (these will be continuously updated):
What qualifies you to hold this position? (Pioneer Press)
As parents and taxpayers we all want quality, well run schools. I don't complain about problems, I help solve them. That includes digging into the data, seek input from other and helping build consensus. These are skills that will be needed to address impending financial challenges and to ensuring all students what they need to thrive and succeed.
What separates you from the other candidates in the race? (TheSunThisWeek)
I bring over 20 years of business marketing and communications leadership to this role. Throughout my career, I’ve demonstrated skill at connecting ideas and people to create new opportunities. I'm also known for analyzing data, seeking perspective from others and forming a clear point of view. I keep an open mind and a curious heart, which means I am unafraid to ask questions and challenge assumptions in search of greater understanding.
These are skills required to help to ensure safe, financially responsible, and well-run schools for our students and community. And I will be a strong voice for our students, educators, and taxpayers as we face the challenges of the coming years.
What would be your top priorities if elected? (Pioneer Press)
We all want to know we're getting good value for our tax dollars. We all want trust in the decisions made for our schools. I will help continue to ensure strong financial discipline, and to improve how ISD 192 measures and reports performance and quality to parents and our community. These are essential to assuring community support to fully resource our schools.
What Experience do you have working with a decision-making group? Why should people trust that you will make decisions in the best interest of the district and its residents? (TheSunThisWeek)
At work, I lead programs that bring together the insights and perspectives of many business leaders and colleagues. Where there are conflicting priorities, I serve as mediator. This means driving consensus toward agreed upon objectives, and ensuring all stakeholders ideas are heard and tested out. The answer seldom is “no,” but rather, “yes, and…” This approach usually leads to more effective answers.
As a school board member, I will similarly drive decisions that include perspectives from all stakeholders. We will focus on the best answers for our objectives, aligned to our strategic plan and our community needs.
If forced to manage budget cuts during your term, what would be the top two or three priorities that you would fight to preserve? (MPR / Forum Communications / Minnesota League of Women Voters)
This isn’t hypothetical. The statewide economic shutdowns and other heavy-handed restrictions have created deficits that will hurt communities and school districts across Minnesota. I will work to mitigate the impact, with a high priority on sustaining classroom resources. That means maintaining teaching staff levels that keep class sizes reasonable. It also means protecting support for special education and paraprofessionals supporting teachers in the classroom.
As a school board member what actions will you do to help shorten the achievement gap? (Voter Question)
This is a great question. We know that Minnesota is one of the worst states for racial disparities in academic achievement. But less information about local disparities is publicly available.
Let’s start there. We need to better understand disparities here in Farmington. I'm looking forward to an upcoming update on the work of the ISD 192 Equity Committee, but the first step should be a review of NWEA, SAT and ACT data to establish benchmarks for Farmington. This will help on two fronts: 1) Improving overall reporting on academic performance in our schools (a hot button for me); and 2) shedding light on where we may be falling short with disadvantaged or underrepresented students.
We can augment this data-driven approach with insights from qualitative discussion with members of our community. This is the basis for setting objectives and developing more effective, Farmington solutions.
What metrics do you use to measure the effectiveness of educational programs in District 192? What benchmarks are you looking for? How should those metrics inform decision making in the district? (TheSunThisWeek)
In business, there’s a mantra that you can only manage what you measure. The same goes for education programs. Through effective measurement of the most important factors – academic improvement and applied critical thinking – we are giving our educators better tools for working with individual students and to manage their classrooms. These are also the keys to help administration evaluate the effectiveness of policies and programs.
Overall performance can best be measured through individual student progress bench marked by NWEA tests, as well as the results from advance placement, and college and career readiness exams, and ultimately graduation rates. These are quantitative measures of proficiency in certain subjects, but these tests also illustrate individual growth over time. In addition, it's important to see how well students apply what they learn to real-world situations. That’s a more holistic way to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs.
Education is constantly innovating. What innovations in education do you think the district should consider implementing or expanding? What considerations would need to be explored to make such changes to current programs to make new innovations viable? (TheSunThisWeek)
Innovation is in the DNA of Farmington schools. Recognized as an Innovation Zone, ISD 192 was among the first to provide every student an iPad to enhance instruction. The use of technology has given us greater flexibility and paved the way for distance/ hybrid models, which also helped Farmington keep ahead of the demands of COVID-19.
There continue to be opportunities for innovation to improve flexibility and scale in education. Online learning works well for some students. It could continue support individualized learning and advancement at the student’s own pace. Further, how might augmenting distance education tools with in-person instruction help redefine the way educators support student academic growth?
Ultimately, it’s our superintendent and educators who will explore these options. The School Board must ensure they align to our Strategic Plan and Guiding Principles, including how they advance individualized learning, ensure equity and protect the wellbeing of our students.
How will you work with our teacher's unions to help retain and recruit good teachers? (Voter Question)
Overall, we need to ensure that our school district has a reputation for quality schools, a thriving culture, and competitive pay and benefits. At the same time, we have finite financial resources, and we must strike the balance. The unions can be a vital partner in our efforts, as it is less costly to retain quality teachers and staff than it is to manage through turnover. I will work with the union, our administration and individual teachers to better ensure our educators voices are heard and they have the support/resources they need in the classroom.
Having a diverse teaching staff is important to me. How would you help our district recruit teachers that are minorities? (Voter Question)
This is an important issue for all of us, and one that is a challenge state- and nation-wide. Studies show that diversifying the workforce helps close the achievement gap. The answer here is similar to your broader question about how we retain/recruit good teachers and staff (our reputation for quality schools, thriving culture and competitive employment packages, etc.), with a few additional considerations, including, recruiting minority candidates from area universities to complete their student teaching practicums in Farmington schools; working with legislative leaders to make it easier for mid-career professionals who wish to become teachers to get their licenses, and finding ways to help new and minority teachers who don’t necessarily live in Farmington today establish personal/professional networks here.
What are your thoughts on staff and administrators in our school system signing the "Good Trouble" pledge? (Voter Question)
In many ways, the Good Trouble Statement echoes former President George W. Bush, who warned against the soft bigotry of low expectations. I don’t know of anyone who opposes equality or equity in education. I don’t know of anyone who denies there are historically grounded barriers to quality education that we can and must address.
But I’ve also heard from several who are confused or concerned by some the rhetoric in the Good Trouble Statement, even where they agree with the desired outcomes. I trust the undersigners have noble intentions. So I look forward hearing more specifics from them: What specifically do they see as problems, and what specifically do they suggest as solutions. Knowing more will pave the way to greater understanding and buy-in.
This is related to questions about closing the achievement gap. At the end of the day, we need to better understand the disparities here in Farmington, so that we can develop more effective solutions for Farmington.
Lately President Trump has been in the news about a Pro-America History curriculum, what is your stance on this? (Voter Question)
Well, on one hand, neither the President nor the federal government has or should have any say in what’s taught in our classrooms. But at the same time, I oppose the idea (we all should) that history classes become vehicles for pushing propagandistic views of our nation, whether pro- or anti-America.
A fundamental duty of our education system is to nurture critical thinking skills. As such, courses such as those on American History should feature credible, authoritative materials that offer a balanced view – the good, bad and ugly – set in the context of the people, circumstances and conditions of the time periods. While imperfect, the history and heritage of the United States stands up strong to scrutiny.
But mostly, questions like this underscore the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
What will you do, if elected, to address harassment, bullying and/or intimidation? (Voter Question)
The responsibility of the School Board is to hold school personnel responsible for upholding the Districts very clear, very comprehensive anti-bullying and student discipline policies, and to support personnel acting within their frameworks. I’m aware of ongoing concerns about bullying in our schools. I will work to better understand these concerns and where any gaps in upholding these policies may be occurring. I will also seek ways to improve on these polices and procedures, as well as how Farmington Schools are communicating, in accordance to State and Federal law, with parents about incidents and their resolutions.
Here are links to the policies. Let me know what areas you think may be improved:
How will you continue to improve and advance education for Gifted and Talented students? (Voter Question)
The School Board’s role is in helping to shape the District’s Strategic Plan, providing budgetary oversight and evaluating the performance of the Superintendent. Our current Strategic Plan puts priority on facilitating flexible, personalized learning. As a member of the School Board, we can continue to influence the realization of those priorities with resources for GEL and expanded AP offerings.