Candidate for School Committee, Ward 3
I taught 6 years in China before receiving my master's/doctoral degrees in education from Boston Uni. I have worked as an education specialist at MA Dept of Education for past 25 years. I served on the School Council at Lincoln-Eliot, Horace Mann and NNHS, and School Committee for last 2 years.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: Discuss an experience where you made a decision that you now regret.
I don't think I have made any decision that I now regret since I became a SC member. One thing that I have learned is that educational excellence has a broader definition that I had originally visioned. For example, while high standards on academic performance should be the priority of any high quality school districts, educational equity is equally important, especially considering there is an ever increasing gap between high and low performing students, due to their various social, economic, cultural and emotional challenges. Also, more research has evidenced social/emotional wellbeing should be part of educational excellence as well.
Question 2: If you’re elected, what would be your first priority and how would you go about addressing it?
Educational excellence is my first priority. I think NPS' students, parents and the community at large have been very proud of high quality academic standards achieved by generations of our students. This is the hallmark of Newton public schools and community and we should never lose sight of it. However, educational excellence does not exist in a vacuum, it should be fostered in a very nurturing environment and supported by all stakeholders. I will work hard with school teachers, administrators, students, parents and concerned members of the community to accomplish this lofty goal, which will make our students productive in their life.
Question 3: The achievement gap remains a persistent problem in the NPS, despite best efforts. What role do you think the school committee can play in addressing this issue?
Yes, the achievement gap is a persistent problem and we should have enough courage and passion to address it. I have asked for and help with data analysis of this nagging achievement gap in NPS. If "It takes a village to raise a child", it certainly takes the community to narrow the students' achievement gap. We should provide more resources to teachers and schools, not only academic support, but more social/emotional support that is culturally appropriate and effective. I think parents should be engaged and involved for their collaboration and contribution. I will continue to push for more resources to support for needy families.
Question 4: Discuss the resources needed by the schools each year to provide reasonable class sizes, breadth of programming at the high schools, and competitive salaries for teachers and staff. Please be specific in terms of budget numbers and other resources.
As a city's public school system, NPS serves 13,000 students of various social, economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. While FY 2020's total budget of 236 millions increased at 3.8.%, many educational expenditures costs rise more steeply. Also, many older school building facilities and infrastructures need constant resources for improvement. Salaries and benefits have counted about 86% of the total budget, while expenses only account for 14%. I will work hard with all the stakeholders within the school budget to ensure competitive salaries in the teacher union's contract to maintain the educational excellence and education equity.
Question 5: In tight budget years, art, music, guidance, and libraries suffer in our schools. What realistic ideas do you have to avoid cuts in these areas?
NPS has four system goals of academic excellence, educational equity, social and emotional learning and expanding and improving facilities. When we review the school budget, we have to keep these goals in our mind while reviewing school programs and all related financial consequences. Art, music, guidance and libraries are all integrated part of the system goals and have huge impact on educational equity and social and emotional learning. In this relative tight budget environment, I would work with my SC colleagues and the stakeholders to first advocate for maintenance of those programs that directly serve those four system's goals.