If you're wealthy, school choice is already available to you. Expanding school choice is the economic rights issue of our generation.
Presently, only independently wealthy families have the privilege of choosing whichever primary schools are best suited for their children. I want to expand that opportunity to every family and child, no matter how rich or poor.
As a member of Stamford’s Board of Education, I will advocate for voucher programs so families can take their tax dollars to pay tuition at the best school for their children.
The incoherence of our current school funding mechanism can be demonstrated through just one example. This fall, with COVID-19 yet to be exterminated, many parents and families will insist teachers and students be masked and/or vaccinated for in-person learning. But many families will insist on just the opposite. And still others prefer remote learning altogether.
No matter which COVID-19 polices Stamford Public Schools require (or are imposed upon SPS by state government), unfortunately, many families will be deeply disappointed. A one-size-fits approach—necessitated by having an entire $300 million+ district under the control of one superintendent—fails to meet the needs of our students and faculty by design.
With school choice, we would no longer have automatic winners and losers with every school district-wide policy. Instead, families could choose their school, and the school policies that best suits their children. Schools would be encouraged to adapt to what Stamford’s families—of all income levels and backgrounds—desire.
The response to COVID-19 has revealed the division that exists with respect to one-size-fits-all policies imposed by our school district. Until we have school choice, however, such policies—and the division they create—are unavoidable.
Here is where I stand on the various COVID-19 policies and proposals which the school district will need to consider.
Advocate for distance learning—COVID-19 or otherwise. The distance learning experiment from last year taught us lessons we’d be wise to remember. While most students and families prefer school in person, every day, some children thrive with remote learning. We should do everything we can to retain distance learning as an option, in this year and every year. As a member of the Board of Education, I will work with our administration and advocate before our state government to fight for families that desire remote learning as the best option for their students.
Encourage—but do not mandate—vaccinations for students and staff. I believe in the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, and hope every student and faculty member that is open to being vaccinated is able to. The district should consider working with programs like Stamford Health's “No Barriers” program to provide members of our community all the information they need to make an informed decision about if vaccination is right for them. That said, the decision on whether to receive a vaccine is a deeply personal one, and I am opposed to any vaccine mandates for either district students or staff.
Voluntary masking for students and staff. A year and counting after the COVID-19 lockdowns, with vaccines freely available, hospitalizations way down, and treatment standards established, we must ask ourselves: when will we return to normal? Will we forever prescribe universal health mandates even for populations that can receive the vaccine (staff) or for populations for whom the virus poses little risk (children)? The State of Connecticut—and Stamford Health specifically—report only a small fraction of new cases result in hospitalization since vaccines were made available to the public. Even as cases from the Delta variant spread, health officials are in agreement cases of the virus among the vaccinated are similar to flu symptoms. T his is no longer a matter of life-or-death, and we know mask mandates disrupt
our children’s education. Wearing a mask—five days in a row,
all day—is not pleasant at any age. I cannot imagine how miserable mask wearing would have made me as a student. They are a distraction to the learning that we need to take place in our schools. I oppose requiring our students and staff to wear masks.
No mandatory quarantine periods for students and staff in contact with COVID-19 positive individuals. Stamford Public Schools’ experience with quarantines of students and faculty last year revealed that few, if any, of the individuals quarantined later tested positive for COVID-19. Of course, our district should be forthcoming about potential exposures and if families believe it’s in their child’s best interest to keep them home in the event of an exposure, that should be their choice. But mandated COVID-19 quarantines are “safety theater” that deprive our children of valuable days of in-person learning. Dozens of children should not be obligated to spend school days at home simply because they sat in proximity to a person with COVID-19.
Free rapid COVID-19 tests to all students and faculty. If anyone in our district has COVID-19, it is critical they stay home. In order to encourage our students and staff to responsibly determine if they are infected with COVID-19, the district should establish free rapid COVID-19 testing stations for anyone who wants a test.
Critical Race Theory
Like many national political issues that filter down to the local level, discussions about critical race theory (CRT) in Stamford are often detached from what is actually happening in our school district.
Critical race theory—as an academic theory of the sort I encountered as a law student at Harvard, where CRT originated—is generally not taught at our public schools, although there have been troubling incidents of politicized assignments at our high schools and even our middle schools that bring CRT concepts before our district’s students.
However, critical race theory—as an explanatory framework for how our institutions work, and a template for how to fix what is allegedly wrong with our institutions—is alive and well in our school district. CRT is being implemented by the SPS administration. This must stop immediately.
The district’s recently enacted “Equity and Diversity Policy” (EDP) implements solutions put forward by proponents of Critical Race Theory. It focuses race and social justice at the forefront of Stamford Public Schools’ (SPS) mission. It rejects equality for our students—i.e., the foundational principle that each student should receive equal treatment and opportunities, with the similarly sounding but vastly different concept of equity—i.e., a desire for equal outcomes for our students, when dividing and measuring them by race.
For example, the EDP demands Stamford Public Schools distribute resources based on race. Specifically, it say SPS will distribute “resources, opportunities, facilities and supports [sic]” on the basis of race. The stated goal is to narrow the achievement gap between Asian, white, black, and Hispanic students. Good intentions and the just treatment of individual students are irrelevant; “[a]cademic, social and emotional participation outcomes, not intentions, shall be the measure of whether we [SPS] are successful.”
These are not just empty words. The EDP requires race-focused professional development for district staff, including “implicit bias” training, which is not scientifically valid and directs hiring diversity consultants with six-figure salaries and no clear jurisdiction or responsibilities at the expense of other district needs. It requires the Superintendent to provide an annual report on SPS’s progress in complying with the EDP, and to highlight those policies which best promote “equity”; i.e., equal outcomes between the various racial demographics.
As a member of the Board of Education, I will fight against the disturbing trend of making race the focal point of our district’s policies and self-evaluation. Instead, I will work to provide EVERY student from ALL backgrounds with the best education the district can provide.