1. What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time?
The budget crisis.
What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?
My top 3 priorities would help eliminate this issue while addressing other concerns. They are as follows:
i. Addressing our budget this crisis with the objective of reducing class size and enhancing learning outcomes for all students (e.g., by cutting the “fat” through a reduction in high procurements, actively seeking and securing community-based sponsorships and funded grants for technology and other expenditures, as well as for PD and World Languages; and implementing a value-added spending plan that adequately addresses the shortfall and expected increases in health and insurance)
ii. fighting for increased representation, compensation, and professional development for our educators (including para educators), so that we can hire and retain more highly qualified teachers who can afford to live in HoCo and can instruct and assess in a culturally and linguistically inclusive manner without the added stresses of housing and commuting.
iii. enhancing investments in education and collaboration between all sites of learning in HoCo (including private “schools”) and simultaneously increasing community engagement using an inclusive and grassroots-based approach like the one so artfully spearheaded for Talk With Me, Howard Cty, so that “restorative justice” practices are effectively implemented, and (sub)cultural norms are respected, as well as for the implementation of additional community-based security measures at each school (akin to neighborhood watch programs), and cross-age/intergenerational language and skills camps (e.g., through what I term “Adopt and Grandparent While Mastering English,” Survival Spanish, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese . . . ; Quilting, Woodwork, Masonry, Auto-upkeep and repair– accessible sessions facilitated by interested community volunteers, including retired folks) as well as for enhanced cultural understanding and health and mental wellness for every student, educator, and resident (through ongoing and multiparty collaboration and dialog); and for positive parent-teacher relationships and engagement, as well as to ensure smoother transitions from preschool to kindergarten.
2. How do you think the BOE should implement Dr. Martirano’s Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion (ensures academic success and social-emotional well-being for each student in an inclusive and nurturing environment that closes opportunity gaps) across the levels?
As a cultural competency and family and community engagement expert and (P-12) professional development provider, I would utilize my skills and experiences to foster dialog and problem-solving, and to ensure representation (for every student and group) and transparency. I pledge to fortify relationships and expand our partnerships at every level, so that we (the BOE) work to ensure equity across the board. With me on the Board, we would work closely with state agencies like the Office of Children and Families, the Office of Aging . . . , and Parks and Recreation, as well as (Online) communities (e.g., HoCo Autism Society, SECAC, the HCPSS Special Education Community Shares, the Font Hill Community) and even religious and other community-centered organizations, such as Beth Shalom Congregation, Howard County Muslim Council, CAC, the Howard County Nonprofit Collaborative, Hope Works, and the Horizon Foundation, among others. Many offer wellness and other critically needed services for youth and care providers, through, for instance, “Prevention Workshops and Programs” (see Hope Works’ offerings) and the Youth Leadership Project. As a researcher and prolific writer, I would advise that we continuously gather and share empirical data from vulnerable and other populations inside and outside each and every school and neighborhood/community, and that we collectively address concerns and issues in a culturally inclusive and appropriate manner. To this end, in the course of serving on the Board, we would engage in extensive data collection, analysis and sharing (e.g., at BOE meetings and Online) for the purpose of both tracking and refining services we provide. I would like us to continuously examine a variety of data, from MIRs to disciplinary actions taken to parent/family experiences at HCPSS offices, to feedback on the responsiveness or lack of responsiveness of the BOE and individual members, as well as to any and all complaints filed, and feedback from teachers, support staff, and administrators. I will lead by example—and show my support for our LGBTQ community by attending gatherings (as I did last night at the Sage Table) and events (like our upcoming Pride celebration). For the last 17 years, I have been volunteering my services as an English language instructor to families in Ellicott City. Based on my experiences as a volunteer ESL instructor in HoCo, I discovered that students and families from what are described as “multifamily households” have to navigate a series of hoops and, as a result, experience a protracted delay before they are admitted into our schools. This process can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks from the time a child arrives in HoCo and is officially permitted to attend our schools. I would like us to reduce this wait period, as these children and their families suffer emotionally and otherwise during this wait period. Many of our schools have no cultural liaison, so it can take anywhere from two to three weeks for a Spanish-speaking parent in Ellicott City to even secure an appointment with their child’s teacher and a translator (i.e., for both to be present to allow for a meeting, personal communication). I have written about these barriers and some of the other challenges many of our students face at our schools (see the selected list below). In my bid for equity, I reached out to our Office of Children and Families last year. Ms. Lisa Rhodes was very responsive. I proposed to offer one or more parent engagement workshops in Spanish to Hispanic families in Ellicott City and Elkridge, and I even offered to publicize the sessions and to help start some cross-age language camps. Pls. see my upcoming plenary sessions in June and July in Iowa and TX (Region 10 ISD, respectively at the Iowa Kids Conference and “Now 4 Forever Summer conference”: http://iowa-ourkids.com/about- the-presenters.html
Dr. Pandey’s Radio Interviews: Selected
Milwaukee Public Radio/WUWM’s Lake Effects Anchor Amy Kiley interviews Anita Pandey about best practices in reading and more for underperforming schools in the home of America’s private/”charter” schools, namely, Milwaukee:
Dr. Pandey’s Publications on Vulnerable Students:
Pandey, Anita Foreword (2017). The Handbook of Research on Pedagogies and Cultural Considerations for Young English Language Learners. PA: IGI Global.pp. xviii-xx.
____(2017). Conversation Analysis as a Powerful Tool forEnabling Social Justice: Focus on Children’s Play and Media. Issues in Early Childhood Education. Hauppage, NY:Nova Science Publishers.
_______. (2015). Beyond Black ’n White: AddressingCultural Bias in Word Gap Studies. Teachers College Record, Columbia University, August 25 [Featured piece in both the journal and newsletter—the oldest peer-reviewed journal in education: http://schd.ws/hosted_files/ca be2016/ef/VocabCultBiasTCRecor dPandey.pdf
________ (2015). Why I Kept My Kids Out of Preschool. Perspectives. April-June. Pp. 1-9.http://www.nabe.org/Resources/ Documents/NABE%20Perspectives/ NP_37n2_Apr_June2015.pdf
_________. (2014). “Pero Extraňo Mi Mama”: Immigrant Children Lost in Transition. Invited piece, Childhood Explorer, ACEI.Available at http://www.acei.org/images/sto ries/ChildhoodExplorerSummer20 14.swf
_________. (2014). Chapter 3, Young English Language Learners at School: A Guide for Early Childhood and Elementary Leaders, edited by K. Nemeth, Caslon Publishing. Pp. 60-69. http://caslonpublishing.com/ti tles/14/young-dual-language-le arners/
Pandey, Anita. (2014). Using Mother Tongues as Building Blocks in Childhood Education. Childhood Education, Vol 90 (1), 61- 67. http://www.tandfonline.com /eprint/rrJSVSqMP5Nzub5HssAn/f ull#.UtS5stJDsS4
________. (2013a). Say Sí, Oui, Ee, Yee, `A-ha, Da, Jee/Ji, Haa(n), Ja, Jeje, Ye(s), Yo!:6,000 Voices Alive & Strong!Perspectives, 35 (1), Jan.-March.
_________. (forthcoming). A is for Arabic and Amharic, B is for Bengali and Bemba, C is for Cantonese & Cherokee, D for Dari (An alphabet book of living languages). Invited.
Pandey, Anita (2012). Issues in Education: Language Building Blocks for Climbing the Learning Tree (Invited piece), Childhood Education, 88 (6), 388-390.http://www.tandfonline.com/doi /abs/10.1080/00094056.2012.741 485?journalCode=uced20
_________. (2011). “The Content Teacher’s ESL Kit: A Handy Resource for All Teachers” Language Forum, 37 (1), 17-24.
3. What is your approach regarding school safety plans?
I would like to help institute a comprehensive safety plan that involves students, SROs, and community members. My response to question (2) addresses this in part. I would also like us to prioritize students’ and staff/educators’ wellness and happiness by offering happiness-enhancing services at school and through after-school options, as well. We should periodically gauge participants’ happiness, much like Bhutan assesses and prioritizes its “gross national happiness.”
4. What are your priorities regarding setting the school calendar?
It appears that the non-acceptance of the waiver requested of the Governor by HCPSS was not well received, so I would poll multiple parties and set a calendar that is most likely to be received well. I would also aim to start high school at a later time.