Early Childhood Education
We must prioritize attention and resources to children and families during the early years in order to set the stage for future success in school and life. MMSD must lead the way in quality early childhood education through community partnerships with child care programs offering 4K; interventions and support for students with different abilities; family and parenting support services; onsite early childhood programming; and community outreach. High quality early learning experiences provide foundational social and emotional skills and help young children develop a love of learning. By providing robust early education services, our students will be far more prepared for success with the K-12 school system.
The pandemic continues. It has affected, and will continue to negatively affect, learning and educational achievement, staff retention and recruitment, and the mental health of students, families, teachers, and staff. To address those impacts, we must get our children back to in person learning safely and provide effective online options for those who cannot return; hire additional academic support staff to provide small group support for students; invest in more support for early childhood programs; reduce class size by adding more teachers; and provide extended benefits to staff.
Disruptive and dangerous incidents in our schools are happening too frequently. We should increase the number of student services staff, including psychologists, social workers, special education staff, and counselors. We should evaluate the Behavior Education Plan and see what elements are working and where we need to improve. I believe we should return SROs to the high schools. I am also a realist: the Board of Education voted unanimously to remove them. I will work with my colleagues to do all we can to make schools safe places where teachers can teach and students can learn.
Disparities in educational achievement are created and exacerbated by systems of racial discrimination throughout society. Schools must address gaps in education and schools must work with other institutions to address the bigger issues. MMSD should add staff of color in all positions and add teaching staff of color an immediate priority; increase support to children ages 0-5 and their families; provide more ways for families of color to be involved in schools; make learning environments smaller; increase access to educational opportunities before and after school and during the summer.