- What do you feel is the most important issue facing HCPSS at the current time? What steps should the BOE take to address this issue?
Addressing staff shortage is the most important issue facing HCPSS, especially efforts to recruit and retain teachers and principals. Our system needs to be renewed as a vibrant, exciting work environment to keep and attract high-quality staff. Investing more in teacher recruitment and retention through programs like “Grow Your Own” teacher, increasing the salaries and improving benefits for educators, building effective recruitment pipelines with local colleges and universities are some possible steps to address critical staffing needs.
- What is your understanding of social-emotional learning and its impact on education and learning? What should SEL entail?
Social-Emotional learning is a process that is used to help students as well as teachers to deal with stressors that can get in the way of learning and engagement. According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning incorporating Social-Emotional Learning in classrooms, “significantly raises test scores while it lowers levels of emotional distress; disruptive behavior; and alcohol, tobacco, or other drug use.”
It is imperative that teachers and staff members are effectively equipped with methods of using social and emotional learning techniques to undergird students’ social development, and mental health. Providing opportunities for teachers to check in with their students to get them ready to engage in academics is vital. The pandemic has disrupted learning continuity which has led to learning loss and issues with managing impulse and maintaining self-control. Checking in with learners before academics and monitoring the pulse of a classroom can help to address some
of the challenges brought on by undue stress. Setting the environment for learning is a necessary step to engage students in academics.
- How will you address redistricting and improving the balance of socioeconomic diversity across all schools?
Currently, POLICY 6010 provides guidelines for school redistricting and balancing diversity under the Standards, Section III.B.3. The process of redistricting should be done with great care and concern for the impact on students. Research has shown the value of diversity, however, achieving diversity without the proper preparation of staff and students of the receiving schools as well as the students being redistricted is misguided. Addressing biases and attitudes must take place and efforts to create a welcoming environment for all students is vital.
In my role on the school board I will approach the process of redistricting with fidelity to Policy 6010 and encourage the other board members to do the same. It is through relationship
BOE – Education Action Team of IndivisibleHoCoMD
Responses from Candidate Jacky McCoy
building and developing a system of accountability that I will seek to impact decisions regarding redistricting.
- How do we best support LGBTQIA+ students within the school system?
We must listen to the experts. Training teachers and administrators in supporting LGBTQIA+ students is necessary to bring about an environment that is supportive of the students’ needs. Working with groups such as Community Allies of Rainbow Youth (CARY) can provide opportunities to learn more about the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth on an on-going basis.
- What is your plan to improve access to special education services and special education staffing?
We need to fully fund Special Education and Related Service Provider positions (Speech-Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapy, etc). The Federal Law providing Special Education has clear parameters describing who qualifies for services and who does not. We also need sufficient academic support for students who do not qualify for Special Education but are still falling behind.
- What should the role of parents be in selecting materials or content of instruction (including media center books)?
There is a process where families can give input that is established in Policy 8040. However, there are no opportunities for families lacking available time and transportation to participate in the review committee process outlined in that policy. Transparency of the process would be helpful to address concerns about the selection of instructional materials.
Providing course syllabi for students and families could also alleviate concerns. Sending out clear statements from the Superintendent, Directors, Principals, and Teachers regarding the teaching of controversial issues at the beginning of each school year could reduce some level of concern. Teachers and administrators should be open to hear the concerns of families and respectful of those concerns. Families should have the ability to have their children opt out of instruction that they don’t want their children exposed to; however, there is no place for books and materials that are properly vetted and reviewed to be excluded from instruction or removed from the media center.
Library Media Specialists have professional standards by which they select age appropriate media materials. Parents can bring their concerns to the BOE for consideration. The BOE is responsible for amending or developin policies that support the developmental and learning needs of students. The superintendent is charged with the responsibility to ensure that established policies are carried out with fidelity.