Iowa City school board: Start and end by asking 'What is best for the kids?'

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I am excited about the opportunity to run for ICCSD School Board. I have two children and we live in the Alexander/Northwest/West district. I am an independent diversity consultant and Ph.D. candidate in Educational Policy at the University of Iowa. For over a decade I have prioritized engagement in my community — I am seeking elected office so I can help create change at a more systemic level. My priorities include keeping kids first, administrative accountability and respect for staff.

I have learned from school staff who are closest to the children to always start and end a decision making process by asking, “What is best for the kids?” I will do this as a board member, and I will encourage more student engagement in our decision-making processes. I will look for systematic ways to discern how students are experiencing school. This information is vital to achieving all three goals in the board’s strategic plan, as it informs action plans and allows us to measure our successes and identify areas for growth.

To carry out the district’s strategic plan, the Board should be working as a team with the administration, but ultimately the Board must hold the administration accountable to our policies, expectations and core values. We must be clear and transparent about those expectations and core values which is one of the reasons for a strategic plan and then we must make sure our administration lives up to them.

When it comes right down to it, though, teachers, guidance counselors, paraeducators and other staff in our schools are the ones who have daily contact with our kids. If our district wants to retain the exceptional staff we already have, we must focus on decreasing their stress and increasing morale. I will engage teachers and support staff in decision-making processes and ensure that their voices are heard. I am especially committed to ensuring teachers have autonomy in their classrooms and are given more pedagogical freedom and flexibility.

I will give my all to the district not only because I am a concerned member of the community, but my own children are and will be in the Iowa City schools. I want what’s best for them and for each and every one of their peers. I welcome questions you have about my candidacy and positions.

• More information: schwalmforschoolboard@gmail.com; schwalmforschoolboard.com

thegazette.com/schoolboard2015

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