The Issues

A Candidate’s Response To Melissa Goldman

Melissa Goldman asked a great question requesting the candidates answer. The original Letter to the Editor can be found here, and below is the question followed by my answer. I look forward to the conversation that follows.

Q: The district has added several new programs and policies to support LGBTQ+ student in the past few years. These include the Safe Spaces Initiative at all school sites, the adoption of a policy specifically addressing the rights of transgender students, and a club at the middle school. What changes or additions would you like to see?

-Melissa Goldman

A: I fully recognize the need in our evolving society to expand the resources provided to our children and educators. With this in mind, it is deeply important to me that we continue to offer information, training, and services to children who historically would have been shamed into hiding their identity. If I could add a service or option to our school district, it would be to offer a training or education service to individuals that would like to be an ally and understand their peers or students on a level they have not been previously able to. Furthermore, counseling services should be explored to provide support to individuals that are not only navigating their personal journey, but who need help facing external struggles such as conflicts at home and other forms of non-acceptance.

In addition to the services and policies in place to protect these students, I would aim to add training to the Growth and Development Curriculum to allow the educators to navigate this subject in a tone and quality that will show all students that themselves, or their peers that may come out as members of the LGBTQ+ community, are accepted and that nothing is wrong with them or their personal journey. It would also be important to keep the level of information appropriate for each grade the curriculum is offered in.

What qualities will you be looking for in the next superintendent?

The top quality that will serve our community and school district is being able to maintain effective communication. Not only between themselves and the district, but between the district and the community. Communication also includes how well they listen to the constituents.

They will need to possess a vision for driving success in the district and a history that exhibits an ability to adapt to the ever-changing dynamic between student and educator utilizing evidence-based data.

What policies, if any, should the school board pursue to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on school properties?

The best method to approach this goal in White Rock is to include such technology and changes during the upcoming rebuild of White Rock schools. Items such as improved insulation methods, solar technology, and recyclable or compostable consumables are a few options.

Improvements can be made on other schools in the district, such as replacing outdated features with newer, high efficiency features. Expanding the solar farm at the middle school and others will serve this function as well.

What is your position on vaccination and mask mandates and why?

My position on mask mandates and vaccinations is simple. We as a society need to believe that experts in their respective fields want to help society when it comes to immunization and viral diseases. If the data currently available says we should wear masks to protect the vulnerable, then my stance is the same. If new evidence comes to light, our actions can be altered.

I will rely on the most recent evidence-based data available to ensure our students, faculty, and families are kept safe

Public Schools navigate the needs of different stakeholders. As a school board member how would you prioritize the needs and wants of various groups?

Every case is unique and will take a unique approach to prioritize the needs and wants of the stakeholders. Based on the funding and resources needed, the students and educators will always take priority. This can include resources for the classroom, or policies to protect every school member.

The best outcome for all stakeholders in the district—from students to educators to the community more broadly—is for the teachers and children to succeed in not only testing, but learning.

What, in your opinion, defines student safety? How do you plan to support safety in our schools?

Student safety refers to the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the children. As a priority, I plan to support student safety by continuing to support our educators in the classroom and on the school grounds. In my experience with Chamisa, the educators have consistently promoted an accepting environment and have always held an open dialogue with parents when issues arise and actively put an end to any bullying, or even behavior that has been at the expense of another child. My goal is to ensure this continues throughout the district.

Increased resources can also allow for educators to spot students that need more help through tough times before safety becomes a concern.

I'd like to hear what the District 2 candidates have done or will do for Pinon School.

This is a great question. As other's have mentioned and noticed, the bulk of my activity has been at Chamisa because that is where my children attend. One act I have already taken to help ensure that I will be looking out for Pinon students and teachers as well was establishing communications with current board members to understand how they interact with their districts. This communication between members will serve to inform the opinions of all members to the needs of each district. By working with them, I will be able to ensure that the needs of all of District 2 are met, including the households that fall in the Pinon attendance district. But my goals don't stop with District 2. As a school board representative, I aim to ensure that ALL of LAPS continues to thrive where they do, and improve where they can. This is the case for households in District 2 with middle school, high school, or LA Online Academy students.

One issue that is being discussed and will be finalized during the next term is the upcoming re-build for both schools in White Rock. I plan to ensure that parents and teachers in my district and across the county have a voice during that time.

Furthermore, I hope to get my email address to as many people as possible to really represent the needs and desires of the community.

Students with IEPs are generally pulled out of class for special instructions but then miss out on what is going on in class. This in turn causes more loss of instruction for the student. Isn’t there a better way to help these students so they don’t have to be pulled out of class and so they won’t end up getting stereotyped and “bullied”?

All modes of Special Education are at risk of being under sourced as compared to the students who fall into the established curriculum. The great thing about our district is the care that the educators have when it comes to meeting the student where they are. Where possible, the educators currently do everything they can to "push in" to meet the kids, meaning they will use an extra person in the classroom to satisfy the IEP to work with the student to meet their needs with the current material. In other instances where they can't push in, they will pull the student and work with them to meet them where they are. Furthermore they aim to pull them at times where there is little or no impact, either during independent work time, or when the subject that needs work is being taught. That is an important point. The educators try their hardest to progress the students to get them caught up to their peers, but the goal is individualized to the student and progress is the most important aspect. The most immediate solution to any shortcomings would be to ensure the resources are available, and this could range from the latest technology, to extra staffing to meet every student.

I am open to any and all solutions that are proposed to satisfy the needs of the students while reducing any loss of instruction. I would stress that there is also power in the hands of the parent when it comes to IEP's. I recognize that there are many different forms of Special Education, including GATE, and if a parent feels it is not beneficial to their child to be in the program, I would advise communicating your concerns with the school staff to find a solution that best fits. We all want what's best for the student, and it's one of the reasons I wish to promote an atmosphere where the differences in growth are not seen as a fault in the student. By removing this stigma of SPED, the student can focus on personal growth rather than keeping up with peers. In my experience with my children’s IEP’s and other parents I’ve spoken to, we have a good model of care, but we need more staff to help implement this model.