6. What are your top 3 priorities? Please limit answer to 75 words.
1) Eliminate the testing regime stressing out students and teachers and painting a narrative of failure with the public. Shift to low-stakes assessments that give educators actionable information (see barrettforschools.com).
2) Focus on state-level policies that can restore respect for the teaching profession.
3) Focus on school safety, with an immediate budget push on physical security and emotional safety, with proper levels of mental health funding as we face a multifaceted student mental health crisis.
7. What should be required in SRO training to ensure that students with disabilities remain safe? Please limit answer to 75 words.
SROs overall need to understand they are dealing with diverse groups of students and especially how students with disabilities present differently, including in stressful situations. DPI already offers some great training, for both SROs, but also importantly for administrators to understand how SROs should be used for law enforcement matters only. Also, my district now uses the Vitals app to ensure our SROs are aware of students with disabilities and their needs in all situations.
8. What will you do to address school violence without placing students with disabilities unnecessarily at risk of criminal justice involvement? Please limit answer to 75 words.
DPI can set the tone for how we address this. Restorative practices should be used in our schools to develop relationships with all students proactively, and address incidents as learning opportunities to develop behavioral skills in our students instead of criminal justice involvement. This is a major mind shift for many schools, but will help all students. Combined with clearer codes of conduct, schools should focus on minimizing criminal involvement and the involvement of SROs.
9. What will you do to ensure that students with disabilities are college and career ready? Please limit answer to 75 words.
We must begin with improving literacy for all students, including students with disabilities. We know this is the biggest gap, starting as early as we measure. I will lead DPI in providing resources and guidance to districts to train teachers in the science of reading—research shows us that this works. Also college ready includes community college so we can partner with them more to create a clear pipeline for our students.
10. How can DPI ensure that LEAs are providing a Free, Appropriate Public Education to students? Please limit answer to 75 words.
Advocating with legislators for appropriate funding to support student needs is a crucial first step. But a fully staffed and supported DPI should also provide PD and model programs for LEAs to understand how best to achieve FAPE. DPI and the superintendent must also advocate for more funding and calendar flexibility so that general education teachers and TAs are trained to support all student needs in least restrictive environments, and prepared to manage all situations.