Issues

My vision for OCPS centers on equitably-funded schools, empowered teachers, and a student-focused curriculum responsive to a rapidly changing economy.  Although aware that the responsibilities of education are shared between our school board and Tallahassee, here are my top priorities in making this vision a reality:

Family & Community Involvement

Simply put: Strong communities build strong schools. 

With family and community investment, critical initiatives like magnet programs and work experience placements become even more accessible to students across the district. And when our students have access to more opportunities, our community benefits at a time when wages are at an all time low and housing costs are rising. That’s why I fully support projects like Partners in Education. 

To foster this level of family engagement, I would employ fresh communication strategies to keep our parents informed. Whether it’s social media, town halls or ‘office hours’ - I’ll remain available to our parents, students, and teachers. An interest in the success of our students should always be encouraged.

Teacher Recruitment & Retention

Let’s face it. It’s been a tough time for our hardworking teachers and staff - and data confirms this:

- Teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low - with only 12% saying they are very satisfied with their job (read poll conducted by EdWeek).
- COVID and its aftermath pushed many teachers to leave the profession earlier than anticipated. A National Education Association survey indicated that the pandemic caused 55% of teachers to accelerate their exit plans.
- The pool of prospective teachers is drying up. Between the 2008-09 and 2018-19 academic years, teacher-education program graduates dropped by a third (read report by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education).
- Teachers are underpaid. U.S. teachers take home 80% of what their college-educated peers earn on a weekly basis. For teachers under 40, insufficient pay remains the top reason for leaving the profession. The starting salary for a Florida teacher (adjusted for cost of living) ranks 45th out of 50 in the United States.

Unfortunately, this is our new reality. We need to address it head-on. Policy research confirms that investing in teachers leads to the largest marginal gains in student performance (report). When we support teachers, everybody wins.

While local and state lawmakers share budget responsibilities, our school board can express support for our incredible teachers through action

Educators and staff know our students and schools the best. Their input should always be prioritized. If elected, I will maintain an ongoing dialogue with teachers and staff, while advocating for job security, fair pay, and professional development. I will also work with school leaders to address the macro problems facing the teaching profession.

Academic & Neighborhood Success

Ensuring student academic growth should always be the driving motivation for school leaders and the Board.  When our students succeed, our community succeeds.

Supporting our students means more than evaluating a textbook or curriculum. We need proactive measures addressing safety, overcrowding, and school discipline policy.

As a former member of my high school’s student government association and captain of the debate team, I support student access to extracurriculars and other enrichment activities. I’ll work to expand opportunities for our students to build skills in multiple environments.

School & Student Safety

School safety is a combination of proactive and worst-case scenario measures. We must ensure teachers and administrators feels safe with the support of school resource officers, that we conduct regular safety drills, and we enforce single points of entries for schools.

But we must also invest in proactive measures. This includes mental health counselors and social workers in every school, threat assessment monitoring software, and staff whose focus is the training, audits, school safety plan reviews.

College & Career Readiness

Student enrollment in post-secondary institutions is declining rapidly, especially after the pandemic. The reasons for not attending college, including a lack of preparation or exposure, skepticism about college outcomes, increasing tuition costs, availability of jobs in the market, and more. And the vast majority of employers cite that high school students are not ready for the workplace. If elected, I plan to prioritize resources to help support courses and initiatives to help prepare students for college and/or career.