Diversity on the board, Local representation in committees, and student-reflective curriculum
I believe that despite the best efforts of students and teachers, our education system needs to be reflective of the growing student demographics of our state. This includes more people of color to serve on our SBOE, including electing the first Asian American to serve on the board. The SBOE committees and working groups should also be diverse and represent the people who are working the closest with our students: our local leaders, educators, and community members. Through my grassroots organizing experience, allyship with local leaders, and coalition building with organizations and groups, I would ensure that more educators and community members are lifted up into places of power to represent the best interests of the people, and not the political interests of a loud minority.
As a middle school teacher, I have seen the power that manifests when students and families see themselves reflected in their schools and in their curriculum. I know how important it was for me to build a classroom culture reflective of our school’s community and values. By incorporating my students and their lives into my classrooms, I saw student growth accelerate, their writing deepen, their emotional intelligence and critical thinking skyrocket, and their families show up constantly to engage with me and their greater community. This is why I am passionate about the importance of representation in school curriculum. Our students of color deserve to be seen and all of our students deserve an accurate and holistic education. As your SBOE member, I will serve with a conscious and anti-racist lens as the board conducts the upcoming Social Studies TEKS review, and advocate for the adoption of Asian American Studies and Indigenous Studies, in addition to our currently existing Ethnic Studies curriculum.
Responsiveness and resilience in student wellness and achievement
Currently, there are inequitable outcomes in the educational achievement of students across lines of race and socioeconomic status. Inequity is visible as early as 3rd grade reading levels – the vital time when students shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Similarly, graduation rates to and through college and enrollment in gifted & talented programming disproportionately excludes our Black and Latinx students. I will work towards addressing root causes of these inequities, including a movement to audit SBOE guidelines and requirements that are contributing to achievement gaps.
As an SBOE member, I would not only advocate to expand social emotional learning and arts education, but I would lift up and highlight innovative partnerships and community school models that promote responsive and resilient practices for our students. I believe that students won’t learn a thing if they don’t feel safe, secure, and self-assured. Evidence shows that social emotional based learning promotes wellness, trust, and resilience in students. Now more than ever there needs to be a holistic approach to student success, not just a hyper focus on academic outcomes. As a teacher who implemented social emotional curriculum for middle schoolers, I have the lens of a practitioner to ensure that students are at the center of curriculum decisions. As a board chair for an arts education nonprofit and a music mentor for students in the foster system, I believe that expanding and deepening our arts education standards, initiatives, and accessibility will foster an education system that is responsive to students and fosters their resilience.
Students at the heart of texas
Far too often, discussions and decisions in Texas education deviate from what is most important: students. I believe that adult politics and special interests are making their way into far too many education spaces, and it is getting in the way of educators, school leaders, and our students from doing what they know best. As an SBOE member, I will develop and advocate for policies to ensure that the majority of our meetings are centered on students and limit any political distractions. For the sake of our students, I will forge positive and productive relationships with the other members, TEA, and other involved stakeholders to collaborate and move forward with policy that benefits our students. I will also build structures to deeply engage local and community leaders to learn from those who are closest to the students, and build pipelines of leaders who are ready to bring students back to the heart of Texas.
We need an expansion of school funding across the state, not arguments over the scraps. All schools need to be funded adequately and equitably, and the way to do that is to lift the floor of school finance, not lower the ceiling on our students. HB3 was a historic bipartisan bill that injected one of the largest investments in our education system in a decade. We know that, while it was much needed, it still wasn’t enough. On the SBOE, I will advocate for an expansion of HB3, with a further investment in those components that further equity by student need. I will advocate for leveraging the interest from the Permanent School Fund to replicate and redesign successful best practices and models across the state. I will advocate for districts to implement equitable and sustainable uses of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds to not only include much needed safer and greener school infrastructure, but also to promote equity in school technology - such as increasing equity in broadband connection and devices especially for our low socioeconomic and rural students.