Published August 2nd, 2018 in the Naples Daily News.
I’m running for Collier County School Board because I want to address the primary excuse our current board and administration use for not performing at higher levels. That issue is non-English speaking students from non-English speaking households.
Collier County Public Schools has the responsibility of educating approximately 46,000 students every year. The statistics show we have a majority-minority school district. This means most of our children live in homes where English isn’t their first language.
I have the experience to address this issue head-on. I spent my career helping at-risk students in this district succeed, enroll in Ivy League schools, become doctors, lawyers, tradespeople, teachers and authors.
I did that by utilizing tactics to produce successful results. We didn’t profile students in reference to overcoming language and home obstacles. We need to develop the talent these young people have and put them in a position to excel. They are bright students who need additional help to overcome language barriers. I have a track record of empowering students to be successful and will bring that experience to the board.
I’m immersed in my community and in helping students and their families overcome obstacles in their lives. I’ve worked primarily in District 5 and with minority populations in Naples. I’m passionate and outspoken about my concerns for these students and families. They deserve an equal education to any student and by improving their education, we improve the whole district.
I’m wholly committed to the community I will represent. No one has a better understanding of the issues in this district. No one on the current board works side by side with people living in District 5. I’m not a long-term bureaucratic administrator. I’m part of the private sector — someone who sees the problem and gives her all to meet that problem head-on. I will cut through the red tape to get to solutions.
I’m running because I believe Collier schools need to focus on policies that will build a school culture where quality and learning are valued.
Collier taxpayers pay 52 percent of their property taxes to the board. The budget is more than a billion dollars and 70 percent of taxpayers don’t have children in schools. The district’s approach has been to raise taxes. We don’t need to raise taxes. We need to be more fiscally responsible. We need to have audits. Right now, there is no accountability.
It is evident that parents don’t trust what is being taught in the traditional schools because of the growth in the number of charter schools (now five) and the number of home-schooled children (about 2,000).
If we include parents, teachers and students more in our planning and assessment conversations, let them feel that we are listening to their ideas and concerns, I believe there eventually will be no need for charter schools. My goal would be to make District 5 schools so inviting and engaging that parents want to move into this district so their children can attend.
Ron Berger said it best in Harvard Education Letter: “Do your best. Most schools embrace this motto without a thought. But there’s a big gap between promoting this message and having a structure that actually helps children to do their best. Too often schools feel like production shops, with students cranking out an endless flow of paperwork. The emphasis is on not falling behind rather than on creating something of lasting value. … The result is a product that is neither creative or memorable. … We need to look beyond our mottos and question what aspects of our school culture inspire and compel students to do their best, and what aspects have just the opposite effect.”