Black Parents Workshop questionnaire joint candidate response

Submitted on October 12

Candidate Questionnaire

The following questionnaire is provided to candidates for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education for their completion. We ask that all responses are returned by October 12, 2018. Responses should be e-mailed to blackparentsworkshop@gmail.com. All responses will be published in the Black Parents Workshop fall Election Guide that will be distributed the week of October 29. We encourage detailed responses to the questions. All non-responses will be noted as such.

1. How would you propose to increase the number of Black teachers in the district, and

specifically, the presence of Black male teachers?

Although the BOE is not directly responsible for hiring teachers, the BOE is responsible in setting the district vision with the Superintendent. We will engage with the BOE members to focus on a clear vision and strategic plan for hiring Black teachers.

● The strategic plan should budget for outside recruitment agency fees (contingency search, not retained search).

o By engaging an outside firm, we can set expectations that request the pool of candidates recruited and presented for interview include no less than 50% teachers of Color.

● (Updated 10-29) The plan should have a clear retention plan around professional development , we need to work with the teacher’s union to make sure this is not only for teachers of color but all teachers.

● With the approval from the teacher’s union, we would like to offer a referral fee bonus for any teacher who refers a teacher for hire in district. This can increase the potential candidates of all races to the district.

● We will strongly recommend the Administration set up a formal mentorship for current and new black teachers.

 

2. What strategies would you propose to decrease the use of disciplinary measures that have

driven racial disparities in in-school and out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions?

We would engage fellow BOE members to set a strategic plan with the Superintendent to increase professional development for our teachers and administration on implicit and unconscious bias. The relationship between students and teachers is critical and being able to understand our biases will improve interactions and conscious decisions.

● Our district does not have adequate social service support.  We would recommend hiring more social workers that support the Elementary schools and High school.  

● Partner with non-profit organizations like the Pacific Education Group; who can provide complete and purposeful professional development in areas that we deem perpetually problematic.

 

3. Do you support the reassignment of students to K-5 schools to desegregate the student

population in elementary schools, and if necessary, to use bussing to transport students to schools?

We fully support the desegregation of elementary schools, and we are proponents of creating, and fostering magnet schools within the elementary schools in our district. Specifically, we want the district to focus on Seth Boyden, which is still listed as a demonstration school, but include Tuscan or Clinton as it’s building mate. In that way, we create two specifically themed magnet schools with particular areas of focus in order to attract all demographics.  The 2017 statistics show that Tuscan’s demographic is 68.1% White And 14.7% Black or African American.  Clinton shows slightly different demographics having 56.8% White and 21.9% Black or African American. We fully understand that we have an issue in all the elementary schools, and that we must redefine what our district needs to look like.  

4. Do you support the full implementation of the state-mandated Amistad Black History

Curriculum?

● We support the implementation of the Amistad Black History curriculum as it’s also a critical part of history.  It’s important that our children understand the contributions of people of color.  Black history is a part of American History, but it has been deliberately removed from our history books and has not been a part of our curriculum.

 

5. Would you support budgetary appropriations for supplemental programs and staffing

focused on aiding the enrollment of Black students in advanced-level and Advanced Placement (AP) courses?

We support additional staffing and professional development to address implicit bias, and  to ensure our teachers build good working relationships with our students. All with the goal of supporting additional enrollment of black students in AP classes.  

 

6. What are the most important qualities you are looking for in the next superintendent?

Our future superintendent must be an exemplar of the following qualities:

● A Strong and inclusive leader who has a passion for the education of ALL children.

● A proven mentor, and developer of strong leadership in administration.

● A former Principal who can relate to the leadership of all district schools.

● Will make tough decisions when needed and take some risks when necessary with the best interest of the students always in mind.

● Compatible and comparable experience working in a school district that was as racially and socioeconomically diverse.

● Excellent communicator who is dedicated, visible and approachable.

 

7. As you may know, the Black Parents Workshop (BPW) filed a federal lawsuit against the

South Orange/Maplewood School District (District) on February 27, 2018, alleging violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and provisions of the New Jersey State Constitution.

BPW filed the lawsuit based on the failure of the District to sufficiently address two issues that the District agreed to resolve in the 2014 Resolution Agreement with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The Office of Civil Rights has verified that the South Orange-Maplewood School District is not in compliance.

Specifically:

1. Addressing the disparity of African-American children in AP classes; and 2. Addressing the disparity of African-American children suspended by the District as

compared to other ethnic groups.

Based on your knowledge of the data produced by the district regarding the disparity of African-Americans in advanced-level and Advanced Placement (AP) classes:

1. Do you support the discontinuation of ‘tracking’ and the elimination of academic

Levels?

We support the discontinuation of tracking as we think it was a discriminatory practice that perpetuated the segregation of students.

● We believe students should have academic rigor and with the elimination of levels it’s imperative to provide additional resources to ensure they are successful.

● It’s also important that all teachers have continued professional development specifically in differentiation.

2. What strategies would you propose to support students in grades K-5 to prepare them

for enrollment in rigorous courses in high school?

Early reading intervention is critical, as we must ensure that our students have the support and resources they need.  Ignoring or waiting until middle school has proven to be detrimental to our children.  We must act early and provide more reading programs in our elementary schools.  We need summer support and instruction for our students to ensure they do not lose the fundamentals they learned the previous year.

3. What restorative justice practices would you suggest to make certain students do not

miss valuable class time for minor disciplinary infractions?

● Restorative circles would allow the addressing of minor disciplinary infractions while keeping the missed classroom time to a minimal.  However, it’s critical that our teachers have constant and consistent training and professional development in these critical areas.

All questionnaires must be received by the Black Parents Workshop no later than Friday October 12, 2018.