REBOUNDING FROM THE COVID-19 SLIDE
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our world dramatically. Specifically related to the FWISD community, it has affected how students receive their education and how teachers deliver their instruction for the past year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the district was on an upward trajectory toward achieving student outcome goals. However, due to the instructional challenges and social-emotional impact of the COVID virus, many of our students are experiencing delays in their academic progress.
FWISD must address this COVID slide like the emergency that it is. For some students, it will take years to catch up and many others are at risk of permanent loss of academic opportunities.
FWISD needs a plan supported by the community and understood by the community to reclaim this loss. A plan supported by the community will instill confidence in the District and its decision-makers. FWISD’s Chief Academic Officer recently instituted changes that address this COVID slide. This plan provides more resources to the schools that need them and directs a new structure for the school day amongst many other changes. This plan needs to be successfully implemented in every school. As a Trustee, I will ensure that this plan is put into place and that each school receives the resources to be successful in implementing this plan.
However, if the district is not recovering from the educational loss, as Trustee I will leave no options off the table to successfully educate our kids and recover from the COVID slide.
I would be open to more instruction times and days to supplement our current school schedule. I would be open to different instruction models or different school calendars. COVID-19 created an emergency situation that the district addressed with the best intentions. And now FWISD must act with the same diligence to recover the lost instruction and to recover the previous momentum.
TRANSPARENCY AND COMMUNICATION
We need leadership from the FWISD Board that is centered on student achievement. Many do not trust their leaders in this community, and believe that their voices are never heard. Many feel they have been left out of decisions that directly affect them. The district’s leaders must openly and clearly share their decisions and decision making processes. We need buy-in from the community and our trustees should be in front of the community sharing their decision making processes.
As a trustee, I will explore new ways to communicate with the community, particularly the way information is shared at meetings and from the schools. When decision making processes are fully transparent, the community can better understand the issues before the board and the complexity of their decisions. Transparency in local governance leads to trust in local governance.
Many citizens in Fort Worth are looking for alternatives to educate their children outside of FWISD. Or they are not considering living in Fort Worth at all. Trust in the FWISD board’s decision making processes can make the district more appealing to current or new residents. As a trustee, I will ensure that all decisions are made with the singular goal of increasing student achievement in mind, and that all decisions are made in a way in a manner in which the community can have confidence.
ADDRESSING RACIAL AND ECONOMIC DISPARITIES
The zip code you live in should not affect the quality of your education. Trustees should be making all decisions centered around the student achievement of all children. When children of color make up 89% of students in FWISD, and the data is clear that the district still has a long way to go toward ensuring equitable access to high-quality instruction for Black and Brown students. Turning around these disparities should be a top priority as the board narrows its focus on improving student outcomes.
FWISD’s racial equity policy recognizes that major historical and societal factors in our nation influence the inequities that exist within public schools. It recognizes that purposeful action must be taken to identify, acknowledge, and overcome racial and ethnic disparities between students. Only successfully implemented changes can correct these historical disparities.
In my work with Leadership ISD last year, we recognized areas that the district could improve to further this policy. Monitoring is needed to support tracking the progress of the Racial Equity Policy and should be engrained into the board's governance structure. Rigorous district goals are needed that drive success for all students - and report those goals to the public regularly.
All preschoolers should have access to early learning centers. These centers are not available in all parts of the city, and they need to be available in the areas with the most need. FWISD may need to locate additional private partners for expansion of these centers.
FWISD should look to what is serving children well, like expanding the Leadership Academy model and invest in making our neighborhood campuses competitive with well-marketed charter and private programs. The district needs to place more high performing teachers at low performing campuses, and this model allows for flexibility in doing so. The current Leadership Academy’s have shown success and expanding them into lower-performing campuses can alleviate some of the historical structure inequities in FWISD.
Concurrently, the district has streamlined programming and pyramid feeder patterns. As Trustee I would advocate for enhancing neighborhood schools with campus wide programming that is aligned with programmatic opportunies students will have in high school. An excellent example of this is the STEM program Project Lead the Way that has been implemented throughout the Diamond Hill Jarvis High School Pyramid. Having quality programs such as this embedded in the culture of a pyramid creates opportunities unavailable to previous generations. This builds stronger communities and sets children up to chart a new path for their family's future.