Whether or not you have children in the school system right now, we all benefit from having educated and engaged young people in our communities. I look forward to hearing your ideas to improve our school system! Grow with Gloe!
After serving on the school board for one year, it's pretty apparent that our community wants someone to fight for teachers.
Many of the problems people tell me about boil down to a lack of both equipment and personnel in our schools. We need more paraprofessionals, counselors, social workers, special education teachers, gifted and talented teachers, and substitute teachers. We need more hands on deck. We should work to keep individual class sizes small, not just overall teacher-to-student ratios. This focus supports teachers and enhances educational outcomes.
I believe good decision making can only happen when a person is fully informed. There is no way for me to understand what an environment is like without speaking to someone in that environment or being in that environment myself. Our school board members should be regularly visiting classrooms and talking directly with teachers to better understand their needs and vision for our school district.
It's not enough for us to tell teachers that we value them. We have to show them, and we do that by providing them with the resources they need to be able to focus on the job we have hired them to do.
Minnesota has a well-documented achievement gap. Minnesota schools don't have enough social workers, school counselors, specialty teachers, or other support professionals. At the same time, we are seeing children affected by opioid epidemic, homelessness, and other such societal crisis coming to school and experiencing profound barriers to learning and participating in classrooms in meaningful ways. The types of problems these children face are systemic and require people across a spectrum of organizations working together to develop meaningful solutions.
First, we need to advocate for more funding from state and local sources, and use that funding to hire more staff. However, we can't stop there. The problems our students are facing are bigger than any school district can be expected to manage on their own. These are societal problems, and as such they will need a broad coalition of support to help solve them. We need to build partnerships with the City of Moorhead and Clay County to get to the root of these problems. Yes, we need more counselors, more social workers, and more support staff, but we also need more affordable housing, increased access to addiction services, increased food stability, etc.
Children don't learn in a vacuum. They are parts of families, who are parts of communities, who are parts of states, who are parts of this country. The issues facing our school systems are the result of issues facing our cities, states, and nation. We need innovative ideas and new coalitions dedicated to improving the lives of our kids and their families, in order to improve our schools.
Roughly one-third of all students in Moorhead Public Schools are enrolled in free and reduced-price lunches. However, this program doesn't cover milk/snack breaks for K-5th graders. Additionally, this program does not meet all of the need in our community.
We can and should do better for our kids.
I recently put together a team of volunteers to organize our second PB&J School Lunch Fundraiser. It brought in over $7,000, highlighted the great work being done in the food services department, and raised awareness of the school lunch gap.
A school's business is to educate children, and hungry kids can't concentrate. I will continue to work toward ensuring all kids are fed and ready to learn. I will also work to facilitate public/private partnerships to enhance healthy options in our schools. I don't believe in one-size-fits-all solutions in education or nutrition; I believe in offering more healthy options and increasing nutritional education to support our kids in choosing those options.
Parents have a right and an obligation to be involved with the decisions that affect their children's education, and the school board will make better decisions with increased parent involvement. That's why I absolutely believe we should be breaking down barriers that inhibit parental participation, as well as airing school board meetings on the public access channel.
This year, I answered every phone call and email I received from teachers, parents, and community members. I had several conversations that were hours long and I did my best to understand each individual's perspective and address their concerns. I consider this to be the basic tenet of public service.
Every child deserves a high quality education. Providing that high quality education to every kid from every situation is often complex. I believe in assessing systemic barriers, both internally and externally, addressing basic needs, and doing our best to create community for each child. If children of color, of poverty, from the LGBTQI community, of various religious backgrounds, girls, or any other group are being adversely affected by our educational policies, than those policies will need to change. I will be here to advocate for moving our policies forward in a way that advances equity for all.