Why do you want to be on the EWSD School Board?
I think I can bring a diverse background to the school board. Growing up in Boston, I learned at an early age the importance of a good education as well as some of the barriers to access that education. As an Air Force Veteran, I've lived around the country and in different parts of the world. Seeing the good and the bad out there, I feel I can bring a unique perspective that can help the school board.
What are some things that you think make you a good candidate?
As I stated above, I grew up in Boston, and attended Boston Latin School, the oldest public school in America. It presented amazing opportunities and unique challenges. Some, I can honestly say have an effect on my life even today. As a father, I learned through volunteering during my child's elementary school years through the WATCH D.O.G.S program, I could bring a positive influence not just to her, but to other children in the community.
Communication, Transparency, Clarity
I've tried to attend as many meetings as I can in the last few months and I believe the board is doing great work, but I know that there is still a disconnect between them and some parts of the community. As former Active Duty Air Force and currently working with the National Weather Service, understand how important effective communication is. I believe I can help the board continue to finds ways to better communicate and reach more of the community. Better communication leads to more transparency between the board and the community. This transparency and effective communication allows better clarity for the community to fully understand and be engaged with the board's work. An informed community is an engaged community.
What are your thoughts on EWSD's Equity Policy?
A hot button issue, I know. As not just a black man in the community, but as a father, I fully support the EWSD Equity policy. Race is a difficult issue to address. For some, they'd rather not address it or argue that talking about race is the real problem. There's never been a problem or issue that is solved by not talking about it. The equity policy is also more than just about race. It's allowing teachers to better engage students and their families individually. It allows teachers to also better communicate with parents on topics that might make them feel uncomfortable by being able to effectively explain why these lessons are important. More stories are being shared and it's allowing students of all backgrounds to be seen and heard. I applaud the EWSD school district's efforts with the Equity Policy and look forward to see the work to come.
School Budget: Too High, Too Low?
The budget is something that is always going to be looked at closely by the public, people are going to want to know what are they (and the students) getting for their money. Per the district's website, taxes have declined 5.5% since FY17 to FY22. While cost per students has risen .74% from FY21 to FY22. I believe that the district has done a good job with the budget, but as with every year, we need to be able to look at: Is that money being spent effectively? I feel the board and the district have done a good job up to this point as well, and would welcome the opportunity to help them continue that.
What are your thoughts on BLM?
I know much has been said of the Black Lives Matter movement, organization and flag in our community. While some members of the national organization have said some things I don't agree with, (and let's be honest, do we agree with anyone all the time?) I believe the message predates and is bigger than any one organization. I believe that Black Lives Matter. As for the flags at the schools, I support the students' right to want the flag up there in solidarity for their other classmates. I know some would prefer a different message/flag that they find more "acceptable", but for me, this is about the message. The students have chosen this message and bravely shared their stories over the last year plus and I stand with them.
What are your thoughts on CRT?
Well, I think Critical Race Theory is a thought provoking subject...that is taught in law schools. I see the fear that some people have of the subject and for some reason believe it's being taught in schools. It's not. While I won't call myself an expert on the subject, those that are interested in it, I highly recommend reading the works of Prof. Kimberle Crenshaw, Prof. Kendall Thomas, Prof. Patricia Williams (to name a few), law professors at Columbia Law School, who were at the forefront of CRT back in 1989, all the way to today.
What are your thoughts on School Vouchers?
There has been much talk about vouchers in recent years. While I can see the idea behind it, I cannot support using public school budget funds to help fund private schools. Parents have the choice to send their child to private schools, but I don't believe at the expense of the taxpayer. Some will argue that the voucher could cost less than the price per student, but those funds are not solely spent in a vacuum per student. Private schools can also pick and choose their students (charging different tuitions based on religious preference for example) and school board and the taxpayer have no input in that process at all. Bottom line, public funds going to private schools which the public have no say over hurts the students that remain in public school and the community as a whole.
Teachers and Staff
I believe we have one of, if not, the best group of teachers and staff in Vermont here in EWSD. As the parent of a Class of 2021 graduate, we've gotten to see first hand the work that they've done in educating our daughter. As we know, the last 2 years have brought unprecedented challenges to every school worldwide. Our teachers and staff have done an amazing job in uncharted waters. While many have shown them support, others have chosen to want to dictate to them what should be taught and how to do their jobs. More than ever we need to support our educators and provide them with tools they need to succeed. Their success is success for our students and for the community.
School Buildings and Infrastructure
Aging buildings in our school district is a large and looming issue for our community. We will need to have in depth discussions with the entire community on how we best tackle this issue over the next decade and beyond. As our vision of a graduate continues to evolve, upgrading our aging buildings at an effective cost to the taxpayer is essential to bring the best quality education to our future students. I feel as a potential board member I can help facilitate these important discussions with the community so they can help make informed decisions throughout the process.
This is a topic that become an issue nationally but has also hit close to home as well. I understand the need for parents and educators to work together when trying to ensure that books are age appropriate. What I cannot support is a broad stroke approach to banning books that one might feel "uncomfortable". Conversations on history or race or identity can be very difficult. But through books we can learn, we can grow and we can better understand each other. And through that growth, even when it's sometimes uncomfortable, can we really learn about ourselves and each other.
Can you tell us some stuff about you that we don't know?
Well, I'm a huge Boston Celtics and Red Sox fan! (It's cool though, I have friends who are Yankees fans) I love music (U2 and Public Enemy are two of my favorite groups), Marvel Movies, and Doctor Who. I love to travel, with Europe being my favorite area, Hawaii not that far behind. Love grabbing a beer with friends around at all the great breweries we have here in Vermont as well! If you see me out, stop over and say hi!