Below are my responses to some questions I've received from the community.  Please use the Contact page to submit more questions.

Frequently asked questions

My thoughts on Charter Schools

I believe charter schools are complementary, not competition. They provide alternative approaches for students and families and I believe we can learn a lot from them. Did you know that every five years, charters must meet certain accountability criteria in order for their charter to be renewed? I didn’t! However, when I found this out, and given that accountability and transparency are my priority areas, if elected I would begin discussions about how to hold district-run schools to the same criteria as charter schools. I would like to learn more about charter models that are making a positive impact in order to foster more collaboration and apply those best practices to district-run schools to ensure that all students have access to a quality education.

What I think about SHEP (Sexual Health Education Program)

SDUSD is required to implement SHEP, because the state has mandated it. However, as far as I know, each district has a say as to how much of it will be implemented and to what extent. Also, from what I know, San Diego Unified begins SHEP at 6th grade.

Other districts have implemented SHEP at the elementary level which is concerning for parents because it exposes students to concepts and ideas before they are developmentally ready. In some cases, the curriculum introduces behaviors that younger children wouldn't have a context for, because they haven't learned about specific body functions.

As a trustee, I would advocate to focus only on the physiological aspects of sexual health and that it be included in the curriculum at middle or high school, not at the elementary school level.

Furthermore, I believe that more communication needs to be done to about the curriculum itself and to encourage families to opt out for personal, religious, or cultural reasons. Here is a link to SDUSD's site that offers more detailed information and the curriculum:

What resources and knowledge I bring to the table in response to COVID-19

I bring experience as an educator. As a university professor, I had to quickly pivot my courses and move them online. It required more than just transferring information; it required thinking about the entire student experience.

I bring the ability to strategize and focus on the mission. I’ve worked with many, many nonprofit organizations to support their work and to help them with long-term sustainability. This means planning for the immediate and long-term need and allowing for flexibility to adapt to the changing environment.

I also bring the ability to think outside the box and creatively address issues. Sometimes creative ideas ruffle feathers. But we cannot continue with “business as usual”. The district has to understand that one size does not fit all.

This pandemic has given us an opportunity. The opportunity to think about things differently and to be more collaborative. Let’s not waste this moment bogged down by what we can’t do, but rather let’s talk about what we can do.

Are schools going to be ready to reopen in August from a health and safety perspective?

Many parents want to know. But, I don’t think anyone can say what it will look like at this point.

There are measures that the district can control and implement immediately (physical aspects such as social distancing, masks, cleaning, etc.). However, I think we need to come up with a plan that has flexibility both for families and for school sites.

We need to look at what other schools are doing. What are charter schools and homeschoolers doing? We could learn a lot.

For example, Mt. Everest Academy, one of the district’s schools, operates a hybrid model. Classes are held once a week and most of the learning is done off campus.

We could give smaller schools the option to open because they have more space to work with. Or, we can adjust the daily schedule. Clairemont High School for example has a 4x4 schedule whereby the same group of students go to the same 4 classes during the day.

But, regardless of any decisions, we need to know what parents are comfortable with. We need to talk to parents about what they are willing and able to do.

For example, some children and families may be medically vulnerable, some may not have the option of working from home, some may feel that the quality of instruction won’t be there. I've sent out a survey that asks these questions, because the district isn’t thinking along these lines.

Regardless of the model, if we do end up relying on distance learning, it must be part of the overall strategy. It can’t just be a band-aid, but rather a legitimate component of the curriculum.

What Does a Board Trustee Do?

A board trustee is an elected position, just like a San Diego City Councilmember. San Diego Unified School District has 5 board trustees that represent its 5 sub-districts. According to The California School Boards Association (2019), "the primary responsibility" of a board is to "set a direction for the district, provide a structure by establishing policies, ensure accountability, and provide community leadership on behalf of the district and public education". So, what does this mean? A board trustee has to be engaged in their community. They not only attend school-related events and meetings, but they need to understand the needs of their communities. I believe this occurs with two-way engagement. As a trustee, I want to talk with parents, students, teachers, and school staff to learn about their work, challenges, and ideas. AND, I want those conversations to be ongoing: not just when the board needs to pass a budget. A board trustee is accountable. Accountability means monitoring the budget, student acheivement, school climate, and evaluating the superintendent. But, it's more than just monitoring. Monitoring provides the data and feedback that a board trustee uses to inform decisions that should ultimately elevate student success. A board trustee is an individual that works collaboratively with the full board. Each trustee is responsible to represent their individual district, but collectively makes decisions that impact the district as a whole. Therefore, it's important that each board trustee brings the ability to collaborate, problem-solve, and think strategically.

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