"My name is Kevin and I am running for School Board, District B. I am a father of two, the oldest of whom attends Kindergarten at Olander Elementary School. I am a former teacher, education policy advocate, and current attorney here in Fort Collins. If elected, I promise to advocate for every child, regardless of socioeconomic status, to ensure that the District's priorities are made a reality for all PSD students and families."
I am a former English Language Arts Teacher. So I understand firsthand the importance that robust literacy skills play in student achievement. As a founding English Teacher of a charter middle school in a low income community in Brooklyn, my team and I increased the inaugural class's state test scores from 28%-52% proficiency in one year - the greatest increase across charter middle school network in New York City. These improvements changed the trajectory of our students' lives. I will fight for the same kind of focus on literacy if elected to the PSD School Board.
As a parent of a PSD student, my greatest fear is receiving the news of a school shooting or other violent act at my child's school. This nightmare is entirely avoidable if we as a society are willing to meet this reality head on. I do not believe the answer lies in "hardening" our schools (increased barricades, more police officers, equipping teachers with firearms). Our students' safety rests in the choices we make as policy leaders and stake holders. Nearly all available data following school shootings reinforces the need for increased mental health resources for our young people, as well as common sense gun restrictions and screening for adults. There is no one solution to cure this new American epidemic. But failure is simply not an option. As a Director, I am committed to working with local law enforcement and our mental health professionals to put into place robust policies to help ensure the safety of all our children every single day. Our children and our future are counting on us to work tirelessly to maintain safe schools throughout our District.
Graduate with Options
The promise of a college education should be within reach of all our students, regardless of their zip code. Nonetheless, state school tuition is projected to be approximately $250,000 by 2036. Accordingly, we need to prepare our students for a future in which they can earn a living wage and fulfill needs in many industries across our state and country. This means we need to shift our focus to preparing students to graduate from PSD with options so they can choose a future that is not determined by the crippling weight of student loan debt. From my time in Lexington, Kentucky, I led a community project with Leadership Lexington in which we highlighted some of the incredible work that the Fayette County Public Schools were doing in their academy programs. This shift will better arm students with tools to enter any kind of profession or industry upon graduating, while still allowing for the option of college to all students.
Mental Health and Belonging
Before our students can learn and attain education excellence, they must feel like they are valued members of our community. More than any time in recent history, our schools and students are being weaponized for cheap political gain on the national front. Classrooms should be bastions of learning and development for our young people; not battle fields for political theater. By focusing on our students mental health and belonging, we can work together to keep our classrooms a safe place where students can focus on learning and becoming the best versions of themselves.