2020 has been a really exhausting year so far but what keeps me going is seeing the potential of our next generation. Unfortunately, our current leaders often make decisions that don’t prioritize the needs of all students. For example, remote learning has been a mess, schools have been closed in an illogical way, and the community’s voice has been limited and disregarded by the current board. As a former teacher, I’m running because we have an obligation to ensure every student has the opportunity to become a leader.
COVID-19 AND REMOTE LEARNING
Austin ISD has consistently been working to catch-up from being behind. Our response to COVID and remote learning is another illustration of our past inability to ask the right questions about the future needs of students. It should not have taken a pandemic for our leaders to realize there is a need to have strong systems for remote learning given the occurrence of natural disasters and other events that could cause a need for learning to continue off-campus. We must now most effectively and safely determine how to meet the needs of families and staff.
SAFE AND SUPPORTIVE SCHOOLS
All campuses must continuously work to become more safe and supportive. A safe and supportive school is one that welcomes, supports, and engages all students to learn deeply, grow, and thrive. It promotes and ensures that students experience a learning environment that is equitable, culturally responsive, and trauma-sensitive. It’s critical that we continue to improve wraparound supports for our students. This starts with ensuring that all students have access to counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists at their campus.
I call on Austin ISD to immediately begin a comprehensive equity audit, managed by a third party. This equity audit must explore and directly address inequities related to race, income, ability, and self-identities. This creates a systematic way for school leaders – principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, teacher leaders – to assess the degree of equity or inequity and implicit bias present in written policies, practices, and procedures.
SEGREGATION AND ACCESS TO PROGRAMS
The education system can’t solve all of society’s problems but it can work to ensure that it does not perpetuate them. Austin has an overt history of housing segregation and political disenfranchisement. Your address should not affect the schools and programs you have access to, student needs and interests should - with transportation provided.
RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS AND CLASSROOMS
Austin ISD's central office is a bloated bureaucracy, keeping valuable resources miles away from where learning takes place. Resources must be reallocated from the central office and equitably distributed down to schools and classrooms to ensure our educators have everything they need to support all students.
Teachers and principals, must be empowered to design and lead their schools. No one knows the needs of students and families better than the teachers and campus leaders responsible for their growth and success.
FUTURE FOCUSED VISION
With a budget of over $1.6 billion, Austin ISD has a moral imperative to be a role model for the future of our city. We must consider our carbon footprint when making decisions moving forward. We must create programs that are valued by the community, accessible to all, and set every student up for success.
REBUILD COMMUNITY TRUST
AISD must consider the benefits of establishing an ombudsman/inspector general office to manage and investigate complaints from the community and from within the district.
REAL-TIME ACCESSIBLE FEEDBACK
We must create a system that moves beyond the 60 seconds offered to give public comment during board meetings. I recommend that we leverage the Austin ISD Smart Phone Application to allow members of the community to provide real-time feedback to the district and board regarding our most important decisions. This can allow for every language to be supported and broadens accessibility to a much widen population in the city.