Barbara Inch is a mother and a part-time web developer. Find out more about her on her campaign Facebook page.
1 – What are the biggest challenges facing your School District and how will you tackle them?
Declining enrollment, teacher retention and a lack of responsive leadership are the most difficult challenges we face. Emery Unified School District (EUSD) is a very small district, less than seven hundred students, that has struggled financially over the years. According to the US Census Bureau, there are six to seven hundred school age children living in Emeryville, but less than half attend EUSD. Fewer and fewer district residents are enrolling each year, as parents look to other districts and charters.
I plan to take a very active role in refocusing administration on supporting teachers and staff development. Adding to our declining enrollment, local students leave at the middle grades. Improving our schools academic performance at this level would reduce this trend. I believe parents leave the district at this critical time because of the lack of positive culture in the middle school. The middle school has been joined with the high school or the elementary school and not an independent school since the closing of Ralph Hawley.
2 – Do you believe there are systemic problems with racial/sexual/gender-based or other discrimination in your district’s schools? How would you tackle them?
Unfortunately there is. School messaging and outreach is out of date on inclusion and equity. From printed literature to the school’s mission statement, it has been a battle to bring diversity to the forefront. Schools must be the model of positive engagement on ideas and issues of race, gender, LGBTQ, religion and religious attire. Students should not face these issues alone. In order for families to come together, all types of families must feel welcome and part of the community. I would advance movement in this direction by first listening to teachers and families to gather an understanding what they feel is needed. I would look at programs that have proven track records. I believe that if we are not actively working against bullying and discrimination on all levels, we are part of the problem. I feel me must go beyond just making our schools safe we must make our schools welcoming of all students and their families.
3 – Do you believe the school-to-prison pipeline is operational in your School District and what will you do to close it down?
I will fight our District continuing to move in that direction. I am very concerned about the plan to use video surveillance and a strong police presence on campus, instead of using caring staff to keep kids safe. I believe that students need to be treated with respect by both their peers and adults and this is done by having adults model respect. Creating community and engaging parents is the start. The next positive step is expanding programs that help students resolve conflicts and understand each other, like restorative justice.
4 – Do you support having police officers on campus? If so, in what capacity?
I do not support having police officers on campus. I think this creates an oppressive atmosphere for students, teachers and parents. Students need people who understand children and can supervise them as needed in an appropriate way for their age level.
5 – What limits to students’ freedom of expression and privacy do you think are appropriate for public schools?
I feel that students rights and freedom of expression are no less important than as any other citizens. Everyone has these rights but they end when infringe on the rights of others. There is no place for hate speech or messaging in any school. The right to privacy should only be challenged if there is a viable reason to believe the student may harm themselves or others.
6 – What do you think the School District should do to offer support to homeless, foster and impoverished children and children coming from violent homes?
Emery is a small district and needs to utilize our partners more seamlessly. The Alameda County Office of Education has services that need to be coordinated and utilized to a greater degree in EUSD. The LCAPP requires that districts include goals for this subgroup, and when I am on school board, I will bolster Emerys efforts.
7 – Given the explosion of autism diagnoses, what is your plan to make sure children and their parents are getting the proper support?
This is an issue that is very important to my family. Early and quality instruction is critical for students. Over the last few years, Emery has stopped sending students to other districts. In the past, families were bused to Albany or other district to receive their early intervention services. Once families settled in other districts, they did not want to disrupt their child’s education by returning them to EUSD. By partnering with the YMCA, Emery now serves students in Emeryville.
I see students with autism as students first. As we improve the quality of instruction for all of our students, the experiences of students with special needs will improve. The district has a highly respected director of special education that works hard to provide the needs supports for our students.
8 – What should the District do to tackle problems of truancy?
I do not like the use of the term truancy. Truancy is a crime. We have an attendance problem. I feel each individual student faces different challenges. I want to start with making school a place student want to be. The goal of the ECCL is to allow for families to come to a single place to help reduce the pressure they experience. While I was not a proponent of the ECCL project, I want it to be a success in helping families.
9 – Are you running as a Berniecrat?
No, I am voting for Hillary. While I share many of Bernie’s ideals, as a woman, I am looking forward to voting for a strong woman of conviction for president.