1- What is the role of the BOE and how important is a partnership with the superintendent?
The role of the BOE is three main components:
Hire and fire the superintendent
Pass the budget
General governance and set policies
A strong relationship with the superintendent is critical to the success of the board and the City School District of New Rochelle. We need to ensure that the new superintendent is set up for success and that they build a great relationship with all members of the community.
2-Do you have any innovative ideas about how to increase the engagement of parents?
This is a tough question depending on the demographic that you are talking about. Growing up my mother worked two jobs - she had a day job and she worked in the evenings. She did not have time to be engaged regularly to attend things like bake sales, mother’s day celebrations, field trips, etc… However, if there was an issue with my performance in school she was there. So we need to ensure that information regarding the child and school performance is happening between the parents and teachers. This can be with calls home and emails. And if a parent does not respond after 2 tries there needs to be more outreach. Going to the home or finding someone who lives next to the child - we cannot give up. We need a contact tree so that we can ensure we reach parents. As for broader communications, I think PTA’s are a great way of getting information to parents, a website that is easier to manipulate would be great as well, social media, neighborhood associations, community groups, church groups, and flyers in buildings.
3- If you could ask one question to a returning student in the fall, what would the question be and why?
How are you? Is there anything you need? I think our children have been through a lot and it will be important to just talk to them and find out if they are okay.
4- For the past few months, CSDNR employees have called in to BOE meetings expressing their frustration at the lack of a settled contract and feeling underappreciated. How would you go about repairing the fractured trust between the BOE and the staff who works for the school district?
I have heard the teachers didn’t know about the changes to the schedules until the public did. This is not acceptable. Administrators and staff are critical to the success of the students. I would encourage the new superintendent to reach out to these different groups, hear their concerns and figure how he can go about repairing them. I would also say that he needs to create a career path within the district so that educators can see how they can be developed in the district. Identify people that want and are ready for more and making sure that he creates pathways for their career progression.
5- Recently there has been more discussion nationally, concerning historical omissions, distortions, and outright lies that are taught in curriculums - particularly when it comes to slavery, Native Americans, and the contributions of people of color. What suggestions would you make to address these concerns?
We need to continue to engage in culturally relevant pedagogy in our schools. This summer we had an election, a pandemic, the Black Lives Matter Movement. We should look at our history and how we can do a better job of expanding our curriculum and making it relevant and interesting for children of all ages. For example during Black History month children should study beyond MLK, Harriet Tubman, etc... There have been many black doctors, artists, and scientists who have made significant contributions to American History and these should be expanded upon. It should not only be taught during Black History month as well.
Overall, students will engage more if they have stories that they can relate to and are relevant. I read Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist which were great books. But when I read Maya Angelou - I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - it opened up a world of a young girl growing up in the city that was like me. I read books by South Asian authors who have similar experiences of wearing different clothes, speaking with accents, and eating smelly foods. These were experiences that interested and engaged me more in my learning. I would encourage our Superintendent to look at our curriculum as a whole and how we can develop a more inclusive and culturally relevant pedagogy throughout our schools at every level.