With nearly 160,000 students served by Dallas ISD, there is no doubt that the responsibility of the Board of Trustees is great. As the District 2 Trustee, I would work hard to find innovative and effective ways to improve our school district for the children in our community. I look forward to being able to use my experience as a health care professional, DISD parent, former foster mother, and involved community member, to partner with other Trustees and District staff to strengthen our local public education system.
Implement a Universal Cooperative Pre-K to Increase and Sustain Parental Involvement:
We know that the educational outcomes of children are closely tied to parental involvement, so we must work to initiate this engagement while children are just beginning their education. I believe we can do this by instituting a universal cooperative Pre-K program where parents volunteer a certain number of hours, based on capacity and availability, alongside teachers. As parents volunteer, they will learn valuable skills along the way that they can carry on at home, and may even be useful in future professional work. In addition to learning, parents become comfortable and familiar with involvement, forming a habit, thus sustaining their engagement. Additionally, families make connections and build community along the way. This could not only change the dynamic of parental involvement, but there is minimal impact on the DISD budget.
Develop a Foster Care Task Force to Improve Outcomes for DISD students in Foster Care:
As a former foster mom, I understand that the children in foster care face unique challenges and truly need the support of their entire community, particularly from their school. Children who are facing issues in their home life often have a more difficult time learning, connecting with their peers, and staying in school. While the District has implemented stronger counseling programs over recent years, we have significant room to grow in how we support children in foster care who attend our schools. In partnership with the Department of Counseling Services, I will work to implement a Foster Care Task Force that will be comprised of educators, counselors, social workers, and community members who can offer insight on this issue. The Task Force will work towards identifying specific problems, identifying realistic solutions, and supporting the execution of any solutions that are determined to improve outcomes for students in foster care.
Strengthen Support Services for the Special Education Department:
DISD is a highly-impoverished district and many children in our district face learning differences. Currently, there is a gap in services being provided for children with impaired cognitive and emotional functioning as a result of poverty-related stress. I would like to work closely with DISD partners, such as Communities in Schools, to expand and strengthen efforts to close this gap. We have room for improvement here and I would like to champion this cause for the betterment of our children in need.
Enhance Outreach and Utilization of the Wrap-Around Services, particularly Mental Health Outreach:
As a medical provider at the DISD campus-based clinics, I would like to expand awareness of the clinics and as well as the broad range of services provided to ensure our students are getting the help they need. Additionally, with the rate of child and teen suicide on the rise, we have a need to address mental illness for children in our communities. I would like to expand the programs offered at the parent center and partner with mental health community organizations to bring these programs to the neighborhoods we serve. By addressing the needs of the whole child, we will have a student who is ready to learn and thus more likely to succeed.
In addition to these items, I also look forward to continue meeting with families, educators, community organizations, and administrators to determine other areas of improvement for our local school system.
I hope you will join me in strengthening Dallas ISD. Runoff Early Voting is May 30 - June 6. Runoff Election Day is June 10.