Thank you for taking the time to find out more about me and why I am running. I pride myself on being honest and accessible, so, if you want to find out more, please don’t hesitate to ask.

1. I want all students to have access to educational opportunities.

The current problem: ACPS have several successful programs that are hard to participate in because they have long wait lists, only exist at certain schools, or transportation is not provided. For example, many students are unable to consider attending the​ Math, Engineering & Science Academy at Albemarle High School because they can not feasibly get there.  I want parents and children to have the support necessary to participate in these programs if it is the choice they want. (Read More: “Forty to 50 students are on a waitlist for the multiage classroom,””Currently the county does not provide a bus for this situation,” listen to ACPS board meeting 3/23/17).

  • WHAT I SUPPORT: Increased access to the programs that ACPS has been implementing such as specialized academies, vocational training, internships, and dual language immersion programs.

    My students selecting who will have responsibility for a field trip task.

2. I want all  students to have clear pathways to career or educational success.

The current problem: Our schools and students are performing at vastly different levels. Almost all minority groups (Economically Disadvantaged, Black, Hispanic, Two or more races, Students with Disabilities, Limited English Proficiency) in ACPS are significantly underperforming  compared to their state wide counterparts. (View the Virginia School Report Card). A divide that extreme is striking in a community as wonderful and as full of resources as ours is. A recent Stanford study that used over 200 million national data points to identify and analyze achievement gaps called out Charlottesville in particular as having a “significant” performance gap. (Read More: “Local education inequities across U.S. revealed in new Stanford data set“). Albemarle County schools have an even more pronounced achievement gap than Charlottesville.

This isn’t all about test data. In addition to having groups underperforming on the SOLs and on the Lifelong Learner Competencies set out by ACPS,  we have persistent equity gaps in students who are identified as gifted, chronically absent, given out of schools suspension, taking advanced math credits, and receiving advanced studies diplomas. This is a problem that has ripple effects on the whole community. It is not about promoting one group of students at the expense of others; research has repeatedly shown that encouraging diversity and providing quality educational opportunities that are accessible to all students benefits everyone. (Read More: “How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students).

I know my neighbors, I know my district, and I know that these equity gaps are unacceptable for the majority of us. I have had the privilege of talking to so many wonderful parents, teachers, administrators and community members. The sentiment I hear over and over again is pride in our schools, pride in our community, and pride in embracing the diversity of our district.  As our area continues to grow and become more diverse (in the past 10 years students from economically disadvantaged homes are growing at a rate 800% faster than the general student population)  it is crucial that we have board member who cares about children and is dedicated to viewing future investments and decision-making with a eye towards equity and closing the opportunity  gap our students are facing.

  • WHAT I SUPPORT: I support a quality education for all students and a culture of high expectations. I want to give our teachers additional support and to provide them with the tools they need to work with their students.  I want access to programs to be decided in a way that make our students less divided along socioeconomic lines.  I support restorative justice, CRT, and efforts to attract and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.

    My students working on a trust and communication exercise.

3. I want to address micro-redistricting in the urban ring and overcrowding in our schools.

The current problem: Our schools are overcrowded (a third of our students attend overcrowded schools and that number is expected to rise above 50% within 5 years) and we don’t have long term solutions. Redistricting is always on the table and leaves families such as mine wondering what schools we will attend and what our long term educational journey might look like. Will my son be at Agnor-Hurt or Woodbrook when he starts school next year? Our district is rife with logistical uncertainty that affects school culture, perpetuates a lack of security for families and students, and results in unnecessary costs to our county.  (Read More: “A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AT RISK,” “Albemarle County Schools faces serious overcrowding problems,” “Changes to the Plan for a New Woodbrook“).

  • WHAT I SUPPORT: Districting solutions and plans that are long term, minimally disruptive, data-derived, and support a vision of academic success for all of our students.

    A zip-lining challenge with my students.

Additional Issues:

  • I  support curriculum and strategic plans that are student-centered and promote critical thinking and real-world skills.
    • I will always support decisions that give our students the ability and skills needed to confidently pursue their own path of learning and success. 
  • I  support sustainability initiatives that are forward thinking.
    • Sustainability measures can save money, teach our students valuable lessons about stewardship and responsibility, and positively affect future generations. 
  • I  support smart investments in technology and modernization.
    • I know, through my husband’s work with Computer for Kids, and my own interactions in the community that many of our students struggle with access to technology. I would continue to support the push towards making our schools more modernized with readily available technology. 

 

Want more answers? Please feel free to ask me by using this form, or email me directly at KatrinaCallsen4SchoolBoard@gmail.com!