1) Expanding Post-Secondary Offerings
I am excited by the beginnings of JCSD in creating partnerships with local corporate entities to provide higher learning options to Johnston students. We have a resource of Fortune 500 companies and skilled trade employers with roots in our community. One of my goals would be to help enable those partnerships to grow into more robust training plans and college level course offerings. Johnston can increase its opportunities to give our graduates a jump on college and momentum moving in the direction of a well-paying career.
In addition to the four-year degree prep I'd like to see a much higher focus on the skilled trades. People who work with their hands can nearly name their price in many parts of the country right now. I worked in the oil fields of North Dakota, which only required a strong work ethic, yet made more than someone with a medical degree. Skilled trades are stereotypically classified as those who wouldn't make it in a traditional college setting. In reality, they are often making higher wages, sooner than their peers, all without being saddled with crippling student loan debt.
Other districts have managed programs that give high level college credit and apprenticeship programs to its high school students and I'd like to see Johnston further invest in that approach as well. We are in an envious position to many districts with such a strong base of involved parents, committed teachers, and solid financials and should leverage these assets to give even greater opportunities for our children to reach their full potential.
2) Returning A Voice to The Parents
Last year was difficult for nearly all of us. The school board had the additional difficulty of making decisions that affected parents, students, teachers, and others in the community - and it wasn't often an enviable task. No matter which side of the issues they landed - be it masks, or attendance structure - they were going to get strong disagreement from half the people in this school district.
I, and many parents in this district, can accept that reality. What was less acceptable was the feeling myself and many parents had when noticing a high level of disregard towards our input in the decision making process. The Teachers Union and vocal members of school associations maintained their influence, but in many cases it appeared many members of the board disregarded a large portion of parent and individual teacher stakeholders.
The board used two hours to read emails from parents simply requesting a questionnaire be released to gauge parental interest on returning five days a week to school. It was disregarded. Parents asked for a review of the mask policy when the Iowa Department of Public Health issued guidance on lifting the mask mandate on our kids while in school. The majority of the board ignored those medical professionals, whose advisories they had been using as their guide for the previous year, and chose their own path.
Additionally, teachers asked for greater input on the curriculum which would be used during hybrid and at-home offerings last year. As I have been knocking doors MANY teachers have told me that they felt completely ignored in that decision making process. The parents and teachers - who should have the greatest influence on school decisions, both felt ignored last year. That needs to change.
The parents need to be heard and given proper status as equal stakeholders in board decisions. I want to listen to all of you out there and help make sure you are properly represented.
3) Stopping Critical Race Theory and Social Re-Programming
Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its ideological offshoots are, at their core, poison to the American way. In a short description, CRT believes that a person is categorized into oppressor or victim, racist or anti-racist, and able to succeed or fail in America based solely on the single factor of the color of your skin. It's a 50-year backwards leap in the progress we have made.
Classifying a group of people into roles and assigning empowerment or blame based on race and skin color is absurd, but it is gaining a strong foothold across the country and has begun to influence teacher training and curriculum here in Johnston as well.
While many within the movement don't admit it, the core founders and national leaders of the advancement this ideology will tell you that the America we have today is so deeply ingrained with racism that the only solution is that it must be dismantled. They claim law enforcement, the education system, the financial system, the legal system, employment and corporate structures, and the traditional two parent family are constructs built on white oppression of minorities and need to be dissolved and rebuilt from the ground up.
Nearly any successful individual will tell you that mindset and self-image are two of the most important factors in overcoming challenges and the daily trials it takes to make it in this world. Children should be learning that the sky is the limit, that hard work and perseverance pay off, and that this system we operate in today is the most advantageous created in the history of civilization. Instead, we have race grifters and willfully ignorant proponents of this movement projecting their doubts, failures, and misconceptions onto our children. It is abuse.
While word smithing Equality to Equity and Inclusion the hope is to limit the ability of opponents to call out the programming for what it really is. After all, who can possibly be against Equity and Inclusion but a racist?
A school board member, referencing a bulk of parent emails they received expressing concern with a board decision regarding Equity and Inclusion, stated:
"While yes, I would hope that all students are included in the inclusiveness, the position is, at least based on the description, is more geared towards creating equity with our minority populations...So for that, to say that our focus should be on making sure that white kids feel accepted is not to my understanding necessarily what we should be focusing on."
There is your leadership. There is your Inclusiveness.
Governor Reynolds signed a law into effect in Iowa that bans this social programming in our schools as of July 2021, but there are loopholes. A key trait of this ideology is the creativity and fluidity of the terms it uses to describe itself. It's why the Governor didn't just ban CRT, but multiple other terms that the movement has adopted to go under the radar of those attempting to stop it.
The guidance from the state is that it will be the responsibility of the school board and parents to monitor for infractions at a local level. The majority of our current board has no desire to intercede on this teaching and more so embraces the change.
I would ask you to research the term Critical Race Theory and educate yourself on what it means and what it is doing to our schools.
While these are the issues which led me to run for the school board I absolutely want to hear from all of you on your priorities and what you would like to see accomplished in the coming years from the school district. Click the Contact tab above and let me know!