Mara's Priority Issues
I will build safe schools through supportive school discipline, inclusion and accountability; academic achievement standards that respect the strengths of all students; and effective strategies for teacher retention.
Create safe, cost-effective, inclusive and accountability-based discipline systems that support students, teachers, parents and administrators.
Every child and every teacher in an Indian River County public school deserves to feel safe, included and heard, which means having keeping kids in classrooms and learning where they are supposed to be. It also means getting support for students and teachers to maintain safe classrooms. I advocate this through a 5-Point Plan including:
1. Cost-effective, evidence-based and supportive school discipline policies that focus on accountability, inclusion and listening to students and teachers;
2. Mental health and trauma responsiveness training and supports for teachers and administrator;
3. Encouraging state-mandated School Resource Officers to serve as mentors, advisors and positive role models for our students;
4. Some limited target hardening where necessary and appropriate;
5. Building engagement, relationship and support among parents, teachers, community members and students.
As my record shows, I am an advocate and practitioner of Restorative Justice Practices (RJP) in schools, but I also know that these work best when integrated as part of a continuum of options. Schools need to be places that are welcoming, nurturing and supportive. Students must feel that they belong, teachers must feel heard and supported, and parents and communities need to know that their children are well-cared for and well-educated. I will institute systems of accountability, fairness and respect that focus on solving problems, not laying blame.
Academic learning policies and standards that build achievement and honor the strengths of all students.
Limited standardized testing that keeps students competitive and also allows teachers flexibility.
American students must keep pace with those of other nations in math, science and language arts. However, some very bright students do very well in the classsroom, but don’t test well. Some students have special learning or behavioral needs that are not considered in standardized testing. Sometimes standardized tests favor some types of learners over others, and sometimes we push academic standards at the expense of supportive learning environments and teacher expertise, and at the cost of essential activities like music, art and sports. Some of our best teachers feel overly constrained to “teach to the test” rather than to the student, and are struggling to keep up with increasing administrative demands. I will work to support the talents and strengths of all students and teachers, while raising overall school grades and academic achievement.
Attracting the best and brightest local teachers to our district with comprehensive salary and benefit packages.
Happy and performing students are created by happy and supported teachers, but we are having too much trouble attracting and retaining our best teachers. Students are our future, and teachers are one of the most important resources they need to be at their best. Teachers need the resources to do their jobs: they need to be adequately paid, they need to have access the supplies they need, they need adequate benefits and they need administrative support. It is the job of the school board to advocate and make sure they have these supports and feel supported by the School District of Indian River County.
Listen and include our teachers, our parents, our students and our community.
To date, the Board and the District have been criticized for not sufficiently listening to their constituents - parents, teachers, business, non-profit and community members. We need more opportunities to hear from our teachers about what they need and what matters to them. We need to create more opportunities for citizens to have input into District decision making on issues that affect them. We need to listen to our students. We need to increase forums for community participation and to make better use of some of our best resources (teachers, parents, community members) to help the District increase its capacity to help and support our children. The more we invite participation, the better we all work together to build the best district we can.