This is our moment! Together we can make a difference!

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11“I believe that America promises all children when they are born that if they get a quality education and work hard, they will have a chance for a better life — a chance to accomplish the American Dream. It is this promise that makes it possible for every child to transcend the barriers of poverty, race, or gender and achieve their God-given potential. It is this promise that inspires hope in all our children— the hope for something more and the hope for something better. That is why I worked two jobs during college and put myself through law school. I wanted more in life. And that is why I am running again for the OPS Board. I want more for our children. I want a better education system. I want OPS to deliver its part of America’s promise—high quality education. I want to move OPS from good to GREAT for all students.”

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, and please remember to vote on Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

Strengthen Our Neighborhood Schools

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My Position:
“If we are to succeed as a district, we must move the discussion away from transporting kids all over OPS or Learning Community to making every neighborhood school great. No matter where you live, there should be a school in your community that you can be proud of and to which any parent would be happy to send their kids. I believe strongly in the value of a diverse student body as a way to promote cross-cultural understanding, community building, and life experience. However, bussing elementary students is not the most efficient way to use tax dollars.”

7Goal: 
OPS must unite parents, teachers, business leaders, and the community around their neighborhood schools. Our neighborhood schools must be community centers and the anchors in the community.

The Solution:

  • Move towards community neighborhood schools.
  • Put the resources that are spent on the school assignment system and transportation toward improving the quality of all schools.
  • Bring neighborhoods, parents, and businesses together to build a community around each school.Find more creative ways to share facilities and build ties to the schools so that students are familiar and comfortable with the environment.

Restore Fiscal Responsibility to OPS

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My Position:
“Sound financial decisions by the Board today will have a lasting impact on education and property values tomorrow. Fiscal responsibility means not wasting money. I will push for targeted reductions in its bureaucracy, refocus our priorities on kids, and redirect funding into the classroom.”

 5The Goal:
Exhibiting fiscal responsibility is one of the foundations of effective school board leadership. Ensure funding goes to the kids first and those closest to the kids second.

 The Solution:

  • Identify those programs, reforms, and techniques that have the highest impact on student achievement, fund them adequately and equitably, and eliminate those programs that do not produce results.
  • Implement a policy to place a cap on non-classroom spending and implement whatever actions are needed to redirect our focus and our resources where they belong—on schools and on the classrooms.
  • Critically look at every contract that comes before the board.
  • Work to streamline resources and staff to make sure that your tax dollars are put to the most efficient use—i.e. reduce the top-heavy school district administration.
  • Ensure that school board finances are managed with the highest levels of transparency and appropriate internal controls.
  • Keep students engaged and in school through a meaningful and relevant curriculum, including opportunities to explore art and music.
  • Work with County Attorney, Learning Community, and service providers to create a new Truancy Reduction Program that engages students before they drop out.
  • Continue to invest in after-school programs and other educational support programs to help struggling students meet their educational and personal needs.
  • Target resources to those students who need it the most.

Restore Credibility Through Strong Leadership and Accountability

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My Position: 
“I believe that the School Board should be presenting solutions, policies, and concepts to the Superintendent. This is not occurring at the present time. The main function of the School Board is to manage, lead, and give a direction. This is our community. Leadership and accountability at the School Board level is crucial.”


8Goal:

Restored Board leadership in making policy. Hold the Superintendent accountable to implement board policies.

Solution:

  • Hold Superintendent and Board accountable.
  • If the current Superintendent retires during the next four years, I would push for a community-driven superintendent search process—a committee comprised of the business community, teachers, principals, and board members to search for a national candidate. This will be one of the most important decisions facing the Omaha community.
  • Create strategies, plans, and programs that reflect the views of the community.
  • Work with the Learning Community Coordinating Council, community service providers, other school districts, and other non-profits to educate all of our children, because ultimately they are our future.

OPS must include the students, community, and Learning Community in decision-making, even when it is inconvenient.

Increase Support and Resources for Teachers and the Classroom

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4My Position:
Great teachers really do make a difference. In order to attract and retain the best and brightest, ongoing staff development and continuing education is essential. Funding should go to the kids first and those closest to the kids second. The rest of the funds should go down the chain incrementally until those farthest from the actual educational process receive the dollars that are remaining.”

Goal: 
We must help our education professionals, especially our young teachers, to be fully prepared to meet the challenges they face in the classroom and ensure their longevity as educators.

 Solution:

12

  • Support a professional development and training program that equips our teachers and site administrators with the skills to excel in a modern urban school.
  • Create a robust teacher mentoring program that couples experienced/successful educators with new teachers or struggling teachers to meet the individual needs of our teachers.
  • Design a school-site environment that is equipped with the technology, tools, and materials to enable teachers to focus on their craft.
  • Create an online best practice database/forum to nurture best practices that grow within our schools and bring in new ideas that have had proven success in other communities.
  • Advocate for more rigorous qualifications and evaluation processes that will produce better teachers in the classroom.

A Safe and Healthy Environment for Students and Families

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My Position: 
”Learning can only happen in a safe environment. Teachers and students must feel safe. Safety in and around schools must be a top priority for the district.”

 9Goal: 
Safety, health, rest, and nutrition are basic needs that must be met to enable effective student learning. We must ensure that our children are safe and healthy on campus and in the community.

 Solution:

  • Implement policies to train staff and hold them accountable for failing to mandatory report.
  • Implement the Safe Passages Initiative – partnering with the City, local leaders, and others to improve the neighborhoods and the streets where students walk to school.
  • Institute more peer learning and conflict resolution.