I believe every student in our district deserves a great education, beginning with his first day of kindergarten. I believe every student who walks across the stage on graduation day should have her choice to pursue higher education, vocational training, an apprenticeship, or to enter into the workforce with the skills needed to be the successful adult she wants to be. And I firmly believe every child who starts as that curious kindergartener can, should, and WILL walk across that stage.
Parent and Caregiver Engagement
Students do better when their parents and/or caregivers are active partners with schools. Just as our students have individual needs for their education, so too do parents and other caregivers have different experiences, motivations, and challenges affecting their level of engagement with schools. I will advocate for more innovative, culturally competent, and relevant ways of engaging and supporting our parents. In my volunteer work with the district and local parent groups across the county, I have strived to bring voices to the table that represent the diversity of thoughts, ideas, and experiences that our Jeffco parents have. We can and should include parents as our partners.
As the parent representative to the educator evaluation committee, I worked to ensure teacher communication and partnerships with parents were included in evaluation criteria. As a professional researcher and evaluator, I understand it is vital that the district implement a system of evaluating our faculty and staff that supports the cultivation of highly effective teachers and administrators. Any system can generate a score or a label; a good system of evaluation will allow Jeffco educators to see, clearly, where they are having success and where there are opportunities for improvement. A great system of evaluation links those results to development opportunities and support, so educators have the opportunity to grow and improve as professionals. We have the will and capacity to do this.
Parents in Jefferson County have the choice to enroll their children in their neighborhood school, an innovative program that better fits their child in another neighborhood school, an option school or a charter school. Parents have the right and, I would argue, the responsibility to be involved in their children’s education. Option and charter schools can meet needs not available to students with educational needs or goals outside the traditional school model. But they do not replace the foundation of a strong public education system that ensures that every child in our county has access to a great education, regardless of the choices that are readily available to them, or the choices their parents do or do not make. Therefore, my priority as a school board member will be to ensure that each neighborhood school represents a viable and excellent option for parents and children in the community.
Protecting the students under our care must be a priority. Schools must balance the need to make our building structures secure with the need to reassure our students that they can learn in a safe environment. Through the Safe Communities-Safe Schools Initiative, I have worked with schools to improve security from both external threats and internal issues, including bullying and student intimidation. In a decade of researching school safety issues I have learned the importance of partnerships with the community and local law enforcement to not just respond to incidents of violence, but to do everything we can to prevent them.