Keeping Kids First: Michigan Chronicle Endorses the Re-election of Stallworth, Mays and Taylor to Detroit School Board

Whether Detroiters plan to cast their votes early or choose to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3, they will see a crowded field of 15 candidates vying for three Detroit School Board seats. By many accounts, the School Board race is the most important in Detroit Public Schools Community District’s long history. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic era of uncertainties surrounding the direction, wellbeing, stability and future of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), it’s imperative that the three seats be filled with individuals who can navigate the uncharted waters in bold, creative and effective ways.

The list of school board candidates was provided by the Detroit City Clerk’s office. Based on the stated deadline, seven questionnaires were returned that were sent to Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Bessie Lee Harris, Jermain Jones, Sonya Mays, Misha Stallworth, Dr. Iris Taylor and Dr. John Telford.

In its quest to gauge the mindset of board candidates, the Michigan Chronicle, based on available email addresses, forwarded a questionnaire to all 15 candidates. The five questions centered on the candidates’ interests, qualifications and visions for the school board position.

  • Summarize your interest in running, qualifications and experience to become a DPSCD Board Member.
  • What are three of your top priorities that you hope to accomplish if elected to the Board?
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will be a major factor in how schools operate for the foreseeable future, what are a couple of your ideas about how DPSCD can keep its students, teachers/staff, and others safe on an ongoing basis, while learning remains a priority?
  • What is your plan as it relates to DPSCD students performing academically “at or above the grade level” of other students/peers across the state and nation?
  • What are your plans for attracting and keeping good teachers to teach in the school system?

 

Sherry Gay-Dagnogo Responses

Response to Question #1: I’m currently serving my third and final term in Michigan’s Legislature, prior to which I was a Detroit Public Schools Science Teacher. I have also taught at DEPSA (Detroit Edison Public School Academy), and David Ellis Academy West. In 2010 I was recruited by United Way SE Michigan to lead Educational Preparedness, I later worked as a Professional Development Facilitator for DPS, Wayne RESA ISD, and a national professional development company Leading Educators, facilitating leadership development for Houston, New York and Washington, and District of Columbia educators. Prior to teaching, I had the pleasure of serving as a Legislative Assistant, Liaison, and Training Facilitator for two Detroit City Councilmembers, Hon. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, and the late Honorable Clyde Cleveland for 9 and 1/2 years respectively which gave me a sense and dedication to community.

 

I have served DPS in various capacities as a former Science Teacher, as a member of former School Board Member Anthony Adams Transition Committee in 2010, as the Parent Outreach Chair for Cass Technical High School, 2009-2011, and on, July 11, 2013, the former Detroit Public School Elected Board voted unanimously for me to serve as the new School Board Member, replacing former DPS Board Member-Carol Banks who resigned. Board President-Lamar Lemmons performed the Swearing-In Ceremony at the Frederick Douglas Academy. For the aforementioned reasons, I am well qualified to serve the interest of educators and children on the Detroit School Board.

Response to Question #2: For far too long DPS has had to do more with less due to 17 years of state control. Institutional knowledge is key to understanding this paradigm and how to change it. The state created deficit of DPS serves as a barrier to advancing a thriving district with up to date infrastructure, and the ability to maintain an exemplary pipeline of highly qualified teachers. Therefore, we must simultaneously focus on the following three pillars: community to rebuild public trust; financial solvency to remove the FRC and get a operating surplus, and academic achievement to ensure our students are able to compete globally. I will work with our newly elected board members to advance a robust community engagement plan to empower and partner with Detroit citizens. I will work with the 2021- 2022 legislature to advocate for a financial solvency plan that removes the need for the Financial Review Commission i.e. revisiting Prop A. Most importantly, I will work to get additional resources and revenue through the appropriation process for literacy, a strong early childhood, and a STEM oundation, coupled with mentorship programs with Detroit based vendors and suppliers

 

Response to Question #3. While optimal learning occurs best via face to face; amidst a global pandemic, health and safety comes first! Medical professionals warn of potential increases of COVID during the Fall flu season. Michigan has done reasonably well flattening the curve, yet we’re seeing spikes of COVID, which could worsen in densely populated communities. Asymptomatic Children being raised by elder grandparents, aunts and uncles could potentially compromise our vulnerable senior population. Consequently, the best approach is remaining virtual until after we’ve tracked the impact of our pending flu season.

DPS closed schools after Governor Whitmer’s March EO, requiring all schools to close. Although Detroit had the highest rate of COVID fatalities in Michigan, the BOE voted to return to Face to Face instruction early June, and reopened summer school, while many districts remained closed. Given DPS infrastructure and prior environmental challenges, their decision was not well informed. The district ignored 80% of parents and 91% of DFT members expressing safety concerns. To foster a culture of excellence and good morale, the concerns of school staff, parents and students deserve consideration.

As a newly elected board member, with a Master’s in Instructional Technology, I will work with our educators, and Wayne RESA ISD to ensure that we are equipping our school staff with 21st century technology modalities. Also, pairing our non-tech savvy teachers with tech savvy professionals to support their delivery instruction. Holding similar tech outreach opportunities for parents and students to ensure that learning doesn’t decrease during the global pandemic period. Lastly, provide and implement a tech support hotline as I have seen teachers constantly post on Facebook for support, yet no real structure exists to answer and support their inquiry.

Studies show that all children can learn when we meet them where they are. We must ensure a strong learning foundation with early childhood opportunities for all children. Implementing full day kindergarten and support to ensure that literacy does not become a barrier prior to third grade. Providing every child with their own individualized education plan would help to identify areas of concern and working with parents to assist them with education benchmark challenges. Relatability, Rigor, and adequate Resources will strengthen our children academically.

Response to Question #5: Detroit has the highest pipeline of highly qualified teachers; however, they are not often shown the level of appreciation that they deserve. Treating our educators like professionals is key and primary. Teachers often report that their professional development is a waste of time, and they have to hear too much about the district through the grapevine. An inclusive model and culture would change that. Additionally, developing a plan to address our financial deficit, and restoring adequate steps for teachers who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to the district.

Ensuring autonomy in the classroom, with the opportunity for teachers to select their preferred work sites in immediate proximity to their homes. Lastly, I have legislation to implement a statewide reporting mechanism and hotline when teachers feel that they are working in a hostile

work environment.

 

Bessie Harris Responses:

Response to Question #1 I have been in education for over 32 years. I have come up through the ranks serving as a Special Education Teacher, Special Education Resource Teacher, Asst. Principal and Principal. Having come up through the ranks I feel I know what the students and parents want, deserve, and entitled to. I enjoyed every minute of my career. Because of my passion and calling to serve students I know being a Board Member allows me the opportunity to make a greater impact on students not just those within one school but district wide. I am able to speak up for ALL students making sure DPSCD students receive the same quality of education students receive outside of Detroit.

Response to Question #2 My top 3 priorities are Special Education, Staff Moral and Parental Involvement.

Response to Question #3 During COVID-19 I feel the Board can keep students safe by being transparent when informing parents of data and outbreaks within schools. Establish a hotline where parents can ask questions, that hotline should also be tied to a Social Worker and a Psychologist, should parents need an advocate to speak to. Ongoing training for teachers and parents on use of technology and the curriculum.

Response to Question #4 It all starts with the curriculum I will work with the Curriculum Committee to make sure the Curriculum is one that will encompass the whole Child. I Push for State Virtual Learning Plans that are successful. I will visit school districts of excellence and bring their models back.

Response to Question #5 My plans for attracting and keeping good teachers is SALARY, SALARY, SALARY! Pay our Teachers their worth

 

Iris Taylor Responses:

Response to Question #1: Since 2017, as Board President, the DPSCD Board appointed one of the best urban reform superintendents in the nation. We developed a sound strategic plan with accountability metrics that indicated we were on pace to meet our goals prior to the pandemic. I have facilitated our active support and implementation of the strategic plan objectives. My collective experiences as a hospital president, mediator, and community board memberships enables me to be an effective school board member. We understand our role as leaders to inform policy and governance and the Superintendent’s role to navigate operations and academic reform. As a DPS grad, I understand the value of an excellent education foundation and believe all of Detroit’s children deserve the best no matter their zip code. It is our responsibility and duty to maintain the stance of student’s first.

Response to Question #2: My priority for the 2020-2021 school year are embedded in our response to COVID -19 pandemic. They are:

o Ensure a protective environment for in-person learning while supporting online learning

o Maintain and or improve academic achievement levels

o Maintain stable enrollment levels

Response to Question #3: DPSCD continues to be very responsive to the needs of our children, parents and staff during this COVID-19 pandemic. The metrics and criteria established by the CDC, MDHHS and City of Detroit Health Department has guided our reopening plan while leaving flexibility for adjustments due to the uncertainty of the virus. The priority is to ensure a protective environment during this pandemic, which require diligence and compliance with all safety measures. The school opening plan provides the structure for this compliance.

Response to Question #4: Student achievement continues to be a primary focus. The District reform work centers on improving the academic levels of each child. Student achievement is integrated in the fabric of the strategic plan thus there is a multifocal approached developed, this has been a challenge during the pandemic and we are continuing to leverage the whole child approach. We know if we do not provide important resources such as mental health and behavioral support and resources, academic achievement will be difficult. We also recognize it is not a one size fits all approach. In addition, we must continue to support our teachers and staff who are on the front line.

Response to Question #5: The board should continue to support a positive, progressive work environment, while continuing to explore opportunities to improve compensation. The District has consistently increased teacher salary under the current board and leadership of Dr. Vitti. And as of now, the District has the highest entry level salary for new teachers in Michigan’s public schools to help attract the best talent in this region and nationally. We will continue to identify ways to incentivize our teachers and support them through on-going professional development and growth opportunities.

Dr. John Telford Responses:

Response to Question #1: As an experienced former DPSCD superintendent in 2012 and superintendent for board in Exile in 2014, I have been involved with the People’s battle for education from the ground. I was not only born and educated in this city, inclusive of my doctoral training at Wayne State University, I have also been part of the fight.   From our successful legal battle for student literacy rights to my everyday responsibilities of being a Poet-in-Residence with DPSCD, my message has been the same: we need to rebuild our public schools to be stronger and more relevant in a new market of competing institutions.

I have already made these proposals to the powers that be, and I have made these recommendations with several years of real-experience informing them. But, the only way we as a People can make and implement policies that are beneficial to our children is to elect a school board that has the same agenda as the community.

Response to Question #2: Agenda of Issues:

  1. Focus: Student Safety, inclusive of CoVid related concerns.
  2. Purpose: Student Literacy, we cannot remediate without literacy.
  3. Opportunities: Revive Skilled Trades and Vocational Programs.

Agenda for Solutions:

  1. To redesign the function of the Campus with online offerings, as health and well being centers.

2.To design literacy-based student evaluations that are protected by HIPAA privacy.

3.To involve/commission local colleges and universities toward reformulating DPSCD education to the principles of equitable design.

Response to Question #3 The COVID-19 pandemic will be a major factor in how schools operate for the foreseeable future, what are a couple of your ideas about how DPSCD can keep its students, teachers/staff, and others safe on an ongoing basis, while learning remains a priority?

Classrooms should be unequivocally closed during CoVid. COVID not withstanding: school should be a year long enterprise. That would be the best first parents, as parents are without much luck or help 3 months of the year. After which, as educators, we often have to remediate students the first two month for missing the last three…

COVID-19 has engendered urgent new tasks that we need to address in order to democratize students’ access to quality education. Here I am addressing our WiFi crisis in the same vein as Detroit’s Water Crisis, the on-going Housing Crisis and an ever yawning Public Education Crisis. The way to mitigate such detrimental possibilities is for DPSCD to reevaluate the role of public education. We need a three year and a seven year plan in order to heal from the impact CoVid has had on education while dealing with the ever increasing inequities of school reforms. I am proposing a vision of OVERLAPPING CAMPUSES: a policy by which our public schools remain open for public services and sustenance even as our students adjust to become virtual learners during this time of crisis.

Firstly, We have to face the city’s yawning WiFi divide which is also keeping many adults from working. How could we be a metropolitan area without WiFi access?

Secondly, Child Care is one of those elements that could really help to redevelop the public schools with a competitive edge. Free pre-k and quality child care are the monikers of a thriving school community. If we are able to provide these services, matriculating through the 12 grades becomes a natural adventure. Child care is an opportunity not only to make public education more relevant in a market of competing institutions, but can reassemble the communities that have been split by school choice programs then destroyed by two decades of school closure. This would be the basis or a ground zero for rejuvenating our learning communities.

In terms of ChildCare at a time of CoVid, we have to recognize that we are essential to families. Urban communities face ever increasing challenges to job, food and home security with less resources at hand every time. This is a distinct responsibility that makes us irrevocably a PUBLIC SCHOOL System. We realize that our People are not only disproportionately affected by CoVid, but that this is spawning another layer of intergenerational trauma as many young people are losing their elders or their caregivers. This isn’t simply a biological epidemic, the ramifications will be for generations.

In this sense, we have to recognize that the school is part and parcel of the larger apparatus of child welfare. When public schools shut down, it also shuts down a nexus of interactions with families, individual children and service providers.

Response to Question #4: Needless to say, we need to revive Altman Elementary and use it as a model across the city. It is no secret that many of our students are over diagnosed with learning disabilities, either from difficulties they are experiencing outside of school, or the rampant plague of illiteracy. Developmental and curricular milestones cannot be met unless we remedy each student, special needs or not, with the ability to read. So literacy is my first platform. Can these kids read? If not, we have to reevaluate the punitive treatment they have received: feelings of shame, inadequacy, or other types of internalizing violence that shapes attitudes of distrust and disinterest.

My top three suggestions for those appropriately diagnosed with special needs and otherwise:

  1. Offer Year Round Schooling and online schooling as an enhancement to the classroom.
  2. Intergenerational Trades, Vocational and Food Handling Certifications & Diploma programs.
  3. Arts and Expressive programming.

Response to Question #5: I propose a vision of what I call “Overlapping Campuses an Kiosks” My experience as a superintendent has shown me that teachers will travel go to impossible lengths and beyond to reach their students. Our teachers are the real specialists, the members of our community that are triaging parents, student and the school. They need supports and a sense of fellowship that is not only acknowledged but rewarded by allowing them to take the lead for innovative programming. We need to end this contractual transactions of curricula, and allow our teachers to fill in the blanks for policy. Teachers across public and charter schools need to be seen on equal terms so that we may come up with locally devised instruments to assess, not test, our students.

We need to put teachers in more visible roles, let them take charge of the literacy initiative that I am proposing. DPSCD should also encourage community driven research between teachers and local colleges of education. However, since Thurgood Marshall’s time, the most oppressive force that teachers are seeing is their paychecks. Until we resolve the debacle of our contrived school debt – we can look towards partnerships and scholarly opportunities in the Design Community, and elevate our teachers.

Not only experts in literacy, let’s preserve our AP courses. High school teachers of this calibre are hard to find but easy to keep, if there is a platform that makes them effective.

Many students get to kow their teachers through after school activities Public schools can be the fulcrum of after school organizations, sports and leadership and involvement in literacy and STEAM efforts.

Secondly, similar to the private tutoring centers such as KUMON in the suburbs, the public school system may begin to create smaller academic clinics staffed with literacy experts, our teachers, that provide and guide students through curricular content at their own pace. We have the capacity to build up programs that like Kumon are not just for remediating students, but may actually press them ahead in accordance with their own evolving abilities.

Misha Stallworth Responses:

Responses to Question #1: I’m running for re-election because there’s much more work to be done to establish our district as one that’s providing an excellent education to all students. We’ve made great progress in the last four years re-building the district following emergency management, but four years was never going to be long enough to turn the district fully around. I would like the opportunity to continue the work. My background is in youth development and community organizing and I’ve brought those skills to the board through the policies and initiatives I’ve worked on that reflect the needs of the community (e.g. Sanctuary District Policy, Anti-Racist District Resolution, reforming the student code of conduct, etc.). The last four years of serving in the district required balancing the on-going work of improving the every day experiences of students and staff as well as the ability to respond effectively to emergent needs such as protecting schools from state closure, replacing water fountains with led/copper free hydration stations, and of course the COVID-19 pandemic. My professional work in the community along with the work of the past four years in the district have prepared me for the next four years especially during such an unprecedented time as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Responses to Question #2:

  1. My top priority is always to ensure opportunities for academic excellence for all students; this is especially important during these challenging and uncertain times. Improving our students’ math and literacy skills is critical for their futures. The changes to teaching and learning in the face of the pandemic is putting the progress our students are making at risk. We must do all that we can to ensure the quality of their education isn’t further compromised.
  2. Finalizing the Student Representatives to the board. I developed the Youth Voice in Governance Policy so that students could represent their classmates on the board. The policy should be approved in our September board meeting and then we can work on implementation.
  3. I’m in the process of working on school policing and safety.       I’ve established a School Safety Task Force to review and learn about safety concerns in the district and make recommendations to address them. This school year I’ll continue that work to see those recommendations through to implementation and hopefully re-envision safety in the district.

Responses to Question #3: The opportunities for parents to choose what’s best for their families is critical. We have families who are frontline/essential workers during this time and they need a face to face option. We have families with students with disabilities whom have been attempting to follow the instructions of occupational therapists at home; their children have gone months without proper therapy and they need a face to face option. Finally, distance learning is being newly implemented and at scale, as with any time you do something new, there will be challenges in implementation. We have students whose academic needs are so great, whom are working to improve from being so behind, that they need the best established method. On the other hand, we have families who are not comfortable having their students in face to face school. Families who have changed their daily lives during this time and need flexibility for their children’s learning. The district must continue to follow local data and best practices as well as plan—financially and operationally–for the resources to offer families options that meet their needs.

Response to Question #4: In the last four years we have updated our English and Math curricula for K-8 and High School so that students are receiving lessons that meet national standards, that are rigorous, and that prepare them for college. We’ve seen the results of those changes in test scores demonstrating that students are improving at a higher rate than any other school district in the state. We also have plans in place for Social Studies and Science which need to be overseen for implementation with high quality and fidelity. We must continue making sure that students can effectively access the education we’re providing, and now look to further build out honors and elective offerings. Critical to all of this is making sure that students are showing up for school in order to receive the education. We’ve been working to reduce chronic absenteeism over the last four years, as we provide more distance learning our work in attendance will become especially critical to make sure students are logging in and connected.

Response to Question #5: Each year since being elected we have increased salaries for teachers and found opportunities to better pay support staff as well. This past year we were able to increase first year teacher salaries to be the highest of any school district in metro Detroit. Additionally, as of July 2020, teacher vacancies were down below 100 (at the start of this work in 2016-2017, vacancies were above 400). Salaries, compensation, and benefits are one important component to attracting and retaining teachers; other important components include available training and school culture. We’ve worked hard to support school environments where teachers have the opportunities for input, where they are able to be creative in their lesson planning, and where they have support in learning new skills and improving their work. At the start of our work with the district there was an incredibly toxic culture districtwide. Staff undermined one another, there was a lack of trust between peers as well as between staff and supervisors/teachers and administration, and a history of misused funds further created mistrust around use of resources. Since then, our policies that established strong processes for financial stewardship, relationship building among staff, ensuring the right staff are in the right positions–especially school leaders, and offering both support and accountability have created marked improvements to our district’s culture. Each year more and more teachers report via survey that they are more likely to recommend the district as a place to work.

Sonya Mays Responses:

Response to Question #1: I am running for re-election. As a member of the Detroit school board, I have been a voice for data-driven policy decisions that are in line with practical financial principles. My decision to run for reelection to the DPSCD school board reflects my belief that I possess a range of skills and experiences that are essential for this new phase of public education reform in Detroit and my belief that I have contributed measurably to the progress made in the past four years.

I have nearly twenty years of local and national experience as a community, public sector, non-profit and business leader – skills and experiences that are essential for continuing reform work in the District. My entire career has been about building the skills and credibility to fight for those in our communities with the least. Here are the relevant highlights of my career:

  • Daughter of a retired 30-year Detroit Public School (DPS) teacher
  • Graduate of DPS’ Detroit Renaissance High School
  • Started career as a substitute teacher at DPS’ Peter Vetal Middle School
  • Former Wall Street investment banker, with experience in finance, accounting and fiscal policy
  • Key member of the team that led Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy process
  • Founding CEO of a community-based real estate nonprofit focused entirely on creating opportunities across Detroit’s neighborhoods
  • Three degrees from the University of Michigan, including a law degree and a MBA

Responses to Question #2:

  1. Ensure Safe and Secure Schools – Absent a safe learning environment, children are unable to focus on learning the skills needed for a successful education and future. All of Detroit’s students, parents, teachers, and administrators have the right to expect their schools to be safe havens of learning. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Recruit and Retain High-Performing Teachers – Over the past three years, DPSCD has increased average teacher salaries by more than $10,000 Starting teacher salaries have been increased to over $50,000. This has allowed DPSCD to recruit over 200 new teachers. There is still a teacher vacancy issue that I will continue to work on during my second term.
  3. Reduce Student Absenteeism – As a Board Member, I will continue to advocate for a logical, effective student attendance program that includes monitoring, prevention, intervention activities, as well as other “wrap-around” services. These strategies are particularly important as DPSCD works to make sure 100% of students are engaged during the pandemic.

Responses to Question #3: I believe that DPSCD’s response has been highly responsive and adaptive to the shifting pandemic environment. One example – prior to April 2020, DPSCD did not have a scaled virtual/distance learning program for students. Within six weeks of the pandemic closures, DPSCD had developed a plan to buy and distribute internet-connected tablets for all students. This was done to address income equity among our students in the face of likely extended school closures. The current board (I am an incumbent) was instrumental in providing the leadership and strategy for the Connected Futures initiative. Further, as an incumbent, I have been at the front-line of the District pandemic-related policies. There are meaningful numbers of students – including special needs and others with unstable or unsafe home situations – who will not be able to reliably learn and achievement on a virtual or distance platform. I strongly believe that the District has a moral obligation to address the needs of ALL of our students and a hybrid-approach – implemented safely and thoughtfully – is the best way to create the flexible options needed.

 

Response to Question #4: If elected to a second term, I would advocate for continuing the implementation of the existing DPSCD Strategic Plan. The current Board is making progress in academic achievement. Here are some examples of positive achievement impact under my time on the Board:

  • M-STEP – Outpaced the state proficiency average in all grade levels
  • NAEP – Fourth grade achievement improved across all subgroups – math improvement the best among the nation’s largest city school districts (second only to Denver)
  • 58% – K-8 students made at least one year of growth in reading and 26% made at least one year of growth in math during 2018-19 school year

 

Response to Question #5: It should be noted that the teacher shortages are far less acute than four years ago, before the current Board/superintendent. Under my leadership as Treasurer, this Board created a set of policies that allowed for increased fiscal stewardship – which has set the stage for increased investments in teachers and school-based staff. Average base teacher salary has increased by $10,000+ since Spring 2017 to Winter 2020. The District has also raised the starting teacher salary significantly. The various salary increases have led to core vacancy reductions – from 275 (Fall 2016) to 76 (Fall 2019).

After carefully reviewing all questionnaires received and the overall qualifications, backgrounds and experiences of all candidates, the Michigan Chronicle is emphatically endorsing Taylor, Mays and Stallworth for re-election to the Detroit School Board.

Each of the three incumbents bring unique skill sets and proven track records of leadership to the school board and district. The three played a major role in leading the search that brought Dr. Nikolai Vitti to Detroit as superintendent of DPSCD in May of 2017.

Taylor serves as the current school board president and has functioned in the position of leadership in an effective manner. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Taylor demonstrated tremendous administrative and organizational skills in fulfilling the top role. When COVID-19 began to disrupt public schools in the district seven months ago, negatively impacting students, teachers and administrators/staff, Taylor, based on her 40-year-plus background in healthcare, rendered another level of leadership that no other board member or candidate could duplicate.

As the former president of Detroit Receiving Hospital and Harper-Hutzel Hospital, Taylor is highly qualified to shape policies, strategies and oversee procedural initiatives to help navigate the district during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such top-level knowledge and guidance have been, and will continue to be, immensely invaluable to the Superintendent, board and district moving forward.

Mays serves as the board’s treasurer and oversees the finance committee. Heading up such areas has taken the board to heights not seen in decades. The board has a balanced budget, three consecutive years of clean audits and has built stronger partnerships in the business community, the latter of which have allowed students across the district to receive needed laptops and tablets to stay current with peers in other school districts in Michigan.

In addition to Mays’ strong suit of overseeing and achieving financial and fiscal responsibilities, she has demonstrated leadership in matters involving real estate and management of facilities. Both areas are of importance based on the amassment, future sales and acquisition of school properties across the district.

Stallworth, the youngest board member ever elected to DPSCD, has been firing on all cylinders since taking a prominent seat at the board’s table. She chairs the powerful policy committee which has reportedly adopted a more balanced and holistic approach to making decisions for the full spectrum of the district. As a trained social worker and effective community organizer, Stallworth has masterfully put in place more humanistic approaches that empower people of all ethnicities not only in school settings but in surrounding communities. In recognizing that DPSCD is vastly diverse, Stallworth has served populations across the ages from Generation Y (Millennials) to Generation X, from Generation Z to Gen Alpha as well as Baby Boomers.

Since winning board seats in 2016, Taylor, Mays and Stallworth have worked in tandem with other board members to advance the district in every aspect, including boosting students’ M-STEP achievement tests scores. Those tests assess how well students are mastering state standards, and before the pandemic, the entire district performed above the state average.

While progress has been important, Taylor, Mays and Stallworth know there’s more work to be done across DPSCD, especially in the unprecedented times of COVID-19.   Such work includes ensuring that all students have access to a high quality and safe public education; attract, retain and keep excellent teachers and support staff; maintain balanced budgets and remain financially responsible; begin exiting from financial state oversight, and establish and facilitate overall policies that support critical systems and processes pertaining to all students, teachers, administrators/staff, parents, communities and other stakeholders.

The Chronicle believes that now, more than ever, Superintendent Vitti and the school board must continue to work together to build and maintain a district conducive to students receiving a first-class education. We believe now is not the time to make changes to a board that has made tangible progress in key areas affecting the district.

The Chronicle strongly endorses the re-election of Taylor, Mays and Stallworth to the Detroit School Board. This will give them another four-year term and the opportunity to continue to execute their collective skill sets and irrefutable leadership acumen that mesh well with other board members for the betterment of DPSCD across all sectors.

 

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