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Interview with Kim Ellison

Meet the School Board Candidates

Challenge the Education Code

This week we  interviewed  Kim Ellison,  who is running against Doug Mann for the  school board at a large. We  asked questions that address the needs of Latino kids, immigrant kids, and kids that don’t speak English at home.

  1. Please explain what makes you qualified to be a good decision maker about education policies for students and their parents, educators and administrators in MPS?

My experience with School Board makes me qualified. I have been doing this work as an incumbent and have been on the board for 5 years. Before that, I was a teacher. I know what it is like to be in the classroom. Even more important,  is that I am a parent and understand the impact that these policies have on students and families. I carry that with me on every decision I make.

  1. How should MPS attract and retain the highest quality, most diverse teaching workforce?

A start is to do some work with our teacher prep colleges. I know that Superintendent Johnson started a process, that highlighted that MOS was not able to say  MPS hired from x number of educators from your university. We should work with the university level on preparing our teachers so that they are ready when they walk into school.

We currently have the Grow your Own Program. It is helping. The majority of the candidates getting their teaching license and over half are from communities of color. I do believe that something needs to be done in the school environment to ensure we retain teachers of color. We can not say come do this and not give support.

  1. What is your best advice for parents of color who deeply care ensuring educational success for their child/ren?

I have not met that parent who does  not care. My best advice is to stay involved at whatever level you are comfortable with–if that is volunteering in classroom or PTO.

Make sure your child has some quiet time, is well rested and has a place to do their homework. Supporting our children at home is equally as important as support from the school.

  1. What would you do to ensure that every MPS student graduates academically multilingual?

Language is a passion of mine. My children all went to Spanish Immersion school as native English speakers, but we must be better for our ELL students. My experience is that my mother moved to the states at age 10 from the Dominican Republic and was forbidden from speaking Spanish. She lost her tongue which meant I lost it.

I value language. Our students learn better if they learn material in their native language. I think we need to support children in language they know while teaching English, as well as create opportunities for native english speakers to pick up an additional language.

Language accessibility needs to start young and throughout  the 12th grade.

  1. Do you support community partnership schools, and if you do, what would you do to increase the number of these schools and make sure they’re successful?

I support community supporting our schools. Community Partnership schools are so new, and it is hard for me to say yes this works and this is why.

However to ensure success, we need to make sure that school are able to communicate what it is that they need and have community partners be able to help round out and make sure needs are meet for our students and families.

  1. What can we do to help ELL families feel more welcome in MPS schools?

We need to translate for our families. We send lots of information home in English. We increase the number of people who speak other Languages in the buildings especially when thinking about that first contact. Make sure that everything we are sending home is also translated.

  1. What do you know about individualized learning and what can be done to better individualize student learning?

Individualized learning is usually used to determine where students fall on the spectrum.  I think that we need to let teachers teach. I do not think we need as many high stakes testing, but we need assessments so that teachers know where students are and can help. Testing should not be for scores but for knowledge.

  1. What should be done to dramatically increase graduation rates?

We need to make sure our children are ready at each grade, beginning with Kindergarten readiness and then get our children ready for high school before getting there. We need to make their learning relevant and set high expectations for our teachers and students.

I worked for alternative education and worked with children who were told you are not going to graduate high school and that doesn’t help. We must plan for graduation before they get to high school.

  1. As a board member, what role will you play in working with newly hired Superintendent Ed Graff?

I want to make sure that Superintendent Ed Graff is successful because if he is successful our students and families are successful. The current board is rallying around him and are setting expectations that can be met and we are making sure he has support he needs to be able to meet those expectations.

  1. What is your best advice for parents of color who deeply care ensuring educational success for their child/ren?

I have not met a parent who does not care. My best advice is to stay involved at whatever level feels comfortable to you, maybe that is going to PTO, maybe it is not.

Make sure your child has some quiet time, well rested, and has a place to do their homework. Supporting our children at home is equally as important as the support from the school.

Posted in: School Boards

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