top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristine Pribbenow

McFarland Board of Education Candidates Respond to MEP Questions for 2024 Election




On April 2nd, the Spring Election will decide who becomes the next Members of the Board of Education in McFarland. The McFarland Equity Project invited all three candidates to answer three questions. All of the candidates provided responses.


Megan Chatman

1.     What is the role of the school board in disrupting and dismantling systemic racism and countering the historical and persistent inequalities in our district?


I believe it is the responsibility of school boards to ensure all students are provided the opportunity and tools to achieve their best, K4 through 12, regardless of race or culture. I am confident McFarland school administrators and educators share this priority and reflect this in their existing policies and day-to-day operations. Your question implies inequalities in education opportunities exist within our school district; perhaps this was true several decades ago, but the school district has worked—and continues to work--to correct any inequalities they identify. As a board member, I will always listen and keep an open mind to solve problems within our community. 


2.     As you consider your platform priorities, what are specific examples of how racial equity and justice intersect and influence the priorities you would like to see the McFarland Board of Education focus on in the future? Please explain.

 

My platform priority is academic excellence and opportunities for all McFarland students to thrive in a learning environment that provides each with the specific resources they individually require to achieve their very best outcomes. This is equity in action. Racial equity and justice are tools to be employed in education to meet the primary objective of graduating young adults prepared to succeed throughout their lives. As a board member, I will question and seek answers to assure our graduates are prepared.

 

3.     What steps do you believe should be taken so that all students and staff feel a sense of belonging in the school community and have equitable access to programs and services?

 

I believe the McFarland School District has comprehensive policies and programs in place that have created a sense of belonging in the school community. Equitable access to programs and services is now intrinsic within school policies from the top down, and it is the responsibility of board members to be proactive in ensuring a safe, welcoming environment exists throughout our classrooms and greater school district.


Cassandra Dennis

 1.    What is the role of the school board in disrupting and dismantling systemic racism and countering the historical and persistent inequalities in our district?


It is important to recognize the board's significant role in addressing systemic racism and inequalities within our educational system. As a mother of a multirace family who values equity, I believe the board should focus on several key areas. Policies and curricula need revision to ensure they are both inclusive and actively anti-racist, reflecting diverse perspectives and histories. Equitable resource allocation is crucial to provide all students with access to quality education. Cultural competency and anti-racism training for staff is essential for maintaining a safe, inclusive environment. Additionally, the board should prioritize recruiting diverse staff to better mirror the student population and foster a sense of belonging among all students. Creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere, free from hate speech, bullying and discrimination, is fundamental. The board should engage with the community and listen to the voices of those who have been historically marginalized in decision-making processes. Establishing clear equity goals and regularly assessing progress towards these goals, with a commitment to transparency and receptivity to community feedback, is vital for the board's accountability. This balanced approach is not just beneficial for individual students but is crucial for fostering a fair and inclusive educational environment.


2.     As you consider your platform priorities, what are specific examples of how racial equity and justice intersect and influence the priorities you would like to see the McFarland Board of Education focus on in the future? Please explain.


McFarland School Board should foster an educational environment that champions equity, justice, and inclusivity, ensuring all students have the support and opportunities to succeed. This can be achieved through several key initiatives:


Curriculum Reform: Implementing a curriculum that reflects diverse cultures and histories, to educate students on the complexities of systemic racism and the contributions of BIPOC communities across all subjects.


Equitable Resource Allocation: Ensuring schools receive fair funding and resources to provide equal opportunities for academic and extracurricular excellence.


Diverse Staffing: Actively recruiting and retaining educators of color, creating a workforce that mirrors the commitment to racial equity, and providing a supportive environment for these educators.


Restorative Justice: Modifying traditional punitive disciplinary measures with restorative practices that focus on mediation and understanding, reducing the disproportionate impact on students of color.


Community Engagement: Enhancing family and community involvement in educational decisions, ensuring diverse perspectives are heard and valued in policy-making.


Cultural Competency Training: Offering ongoing professional development for staff in cultural competency and anti-racist teaching practices to create inclusive classroom environments.

 

3.     What steps do you believe should be taken so that all students and staff feel a sense of belonging in the school community and have equitable access to programs and services?


To make everyone in the school feel valued and included, it is essential to nurture an environment where diversity is not just accepted, but celebrated. Regular workshops and training sessions on cultural sensitivity and bias awareness can help foster mutual respect and understanding among all school members. Adjusting curriculum to include a wider range of perspectives and histories ensures students see their own backgrounds reflected in their learning and gain insight into the experiences of others.


Ensuring equitable access to educational opportunities and extracurricular activities means leveling the playing field so every student has a chance to shine.   Adopting restorative justice approaches to discipline can help build a more supportive school atmosphere, focusing on learning and understanding rather than punishment.


Having a diverse group of educators and staff who reflect the student body's diversity can significantly enhance students' sense of belonging and provide them with relatable mentors. Engaging with families and the broader community in an open, inclusive manner ensures diverse viewpoints are considered in decision-making, leading to policies and initiatives that truly reflect the needs of the entire school community. By taking these steps, we can create a welcoming, inclusive school environment where everyone feels they belong and can thrive.


Bruce Fischer

1.              What is the role of the school board in disrupting and dismantling systemic racism and countering the historical and persistent inequalities in our district?


     Our School Board recognizes and supports the importance of having a rich and diverse variety of classes, particularly in the Social Studies and Language Arts. Our students need to learn the truth about the history of our country and the people who live here. It is crucial that we do not censor our history and our literature.

     The Board also supports offering a rich variety of clubs and extracurriculars so that students can meet with other students with whom they feel comfortable. Our Strategic Plan commits us to providing a “welcoming and inclusive space for learners to be seen, heard and valued as their authentic selves.”

     Lastly, the Board has endorsed policies and programs that utilize data to close achievement gaps for underserved students.

 

2.              What are specific examples of how racial equity and justice intersect and how have you addressed these as a McFarland Board of Education member? Please describe.


     We must continually work to identify and remove obstacles that prevent students from accessing the resources necessary to achieve their educational potential. This requires us to utilize data to find out what those barriers are – for example, transportation issues, lack of internet access, and absentee/tardiness patterns.

     Expanding our mentoring system can help identify specific barriers as the mentor gets to know their mentee. A mentor program would also provide additional “eyes and ears” to help curtail hurtful language and behavior that negatively affect too many students. Working with our administrators and staff, mentors can report these behaviors that often occur in the halls and outside classrooms.

     The administration and the Board also value and support the practice of Restorative Justice as a meaningful way to address harmful actions. However, the Board has shown it will take disciplinary action when there have been behaviors that have caused others to feel unsafe physically, mentally or emotionally.

 

3.              What steps do you believe should be taken so that all students and staff feel a sense of belonging in the school community and have equitable access to programs and services?


     Our Strategic Plan commits us to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB). The Board believes that every student deserves a chance to learn in a safe environment. Hiring our DEIB Coordinator, Brittany Brazzel, is an important step towards ensuring that DEIB is part of our District’s DNA. She is the advocate for all students to ensure equitable access to programs and services.

     The Strategic Plan also states that we will “actively recruit and retain a diverse staff representative of a global society.” A shortage of teachers, and competition with other school districts for diverse staff, will not make this easy. However, one solution is to begin a “Grow Your Own” program here. First, we need to encourage students to become teachers by offering a high school class for those interested. Secondly, we can offer incentives to alumni who receive their college degree in education to apply for openings here.

 


241 views0 comments

Comentários


bottom of page