Monday, November 7, 2016

This Is How We Do It! Kristel Ann Foster for TUSD!!

We’ve been busy!!  Check out all the campaigning that’s been going on to support Democrats up and down the ballot!!  

                                With Vice President Candidate Tim Kaine.....

...with labor legend Dolores Huerta!

....even some Hollywood at Tucson Comi Con 
with actor Tony Todd. 

....and some All Souls' participants 
just before the procession.

We gathered to canvass door-to-door ... call voters....

 ...collaborating with other campaigns....

...coming together for our public schools, 
our local district, to keep our voice on our Board! 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I am only voting for two candidates: Cam Juarez and Kristel Ann Foster (Part Two)

TUSD -- Part Two
by Ann-Eve Pedersen

I sent this message today to people who received an email from TUSD board candidate Mark Stegeman, challenging me to a debate based on my prior Facebook post.

Mark Stegeman, in an email to many of you, referenced a message that I posted on my personal Facebook page indicating why I will not be voting for him for the TUSD board. In his email to you, Mark Stegeman said he would like to challenge me to a debate. Although he did not send this request to me, many of you forwarded it on to me. If Mark Stegeman would like to help me share a much more optimistic perspective of TUSD than he holds, in a public setting before the election, I would be happy to do so.

I am a TUSD parent, a former TUSD student and a volunteer public education advocate who cares deeply about the quality of our community’s largest school district. As a TUSD parent, I have noticed improvements in our schools under the current board majority: Cam Juarez, Kristel Foster and Adelita Grijalva and under the current superintendent, H.T. Sanchez.

I have seen enrollment in the district pull out of a free fall and start to rise. I have seen the end to rampant school closures, with the repurposing of some schools into early-education centers. I have seen much, much improved communication with parents, both at the district level and the school level. I have seen teachers move from other districts to take jobs within TUSD. On a daily basis, I see highly dedicated teachers, principals, counselors, librarians, coaches, support staff and district-level employees working very hard to provide a quality-level education for our children.

Is there room for improvement? Of course. There always will be in a large institution with an elected board. But in a state that so dismally funds its public schools — failing its children and their teachers — TUSD, like all districts, faces problems endemic to lack of adequate funding, such as teacher shortages and crumbling infrastructure. Arizona faces the worst teacher shortage in the nation and the Governor and state Legislature have seen fit to defund basic school repairs.

In times like these — when we have a Governor and a state Legislature intent on dismantling public education by dramatically defunding it and then claiming it is inextricably broken — we dot not have the luxury of keeping dysfunctional board members in a role where they either wittingly or unwittingly do the state Legislature’s bidding for them. A watchdog is different than an attack dog.

We live in an era where some, including elected officials, work diligently to tear down public institutions, often with misinformation and misleading information. That is unfortunate, especially when tearing down those public institutions, such as school districts, actually harms children, who do not have the power to vote.

All of you are community leaders. Your opinions matter, as does where you receive your information. Sometimes when all you hear is that something is completely broken, it’s easy to believe that is the case. That’s one reason I decided to respond, rather than let Mark Stegeman’s comments continue to go unanswered.

As a TUSD parent and a statewide public education advocate who has observed not only TUSD but other school districts at a close level for more than eight years, I can tell you that Mark Stegeman’s doom-and-gloom constant narrative about TUSD is not true. (Nor is his statement that he has only interacted with me only two or three times over the past eight years. That statement is false. I’m not sure why he would say something misleading about such a small matter.)

Again, I would be happy to share my perspective in a public forum before the election organized by a neutral organization with no ties to any TUSD board candidate.

Ann-Eve Pedersen

TUSD parent and volunteer public education advocate

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kristel Ann Foster: Keep TUSD on the right track

Tucson Unified has no time for tomato throwing, as my fellow TUSD Governing Board member shared last week. We must focus on a shared vision, not board drama, and commit to moving our school district forward.
When Cam Juárez and I were elected to the Governing Board in 2012, it changed the TUSD board majority and the direction of the district. One of our first votes was to halt the outsourcing of transportation, custodians, payroll and human resources. We also unbanned books and approved culturally relevant classes, which mirror (as much as the law allows) the successful Mexican American Studies classes that the previous board suspended.
In 2014, we approved a Strategic Plan that 400 stakeholders helped to create, providing us with a precise vision and necessary steps to improve TUSD facilities, communication, curriculum, finance and diversity, all of which align to our desegregation plan.
This blueprint allows us to focus on concrete work, rather than endlessly criticizing administration. With this guiding framework, already, we have reopened closed schools as early childhood centers to better connect with younger students. We established community centers to help struggling families meet their basic needs. We installed solar and implemented school garden programs to model sustainability and responsible citizenship. With the help of community leaders, we re-enrolled more than 500 students who had dropped out of school. We increased academic achievement and decreased suspension rates of minority students to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. And finally, we are just months away from settling our 40-year old desegregation case.Most impressively, we have done an about-face when it comes to our notorious enrollment loss. In fact, 228 more K-12 students have entered TUSD since the 40th day of the 2015-16 school year compared to the 52nd school day this year.
This shows a growing trust and belief in TUSD and will increase our state funding by almost $4 million.
In 2016, if our school board changes direction we could return to the chaos we previously saw with more school closures, outsourcing of blue-collar staff and a setback in our desegregation case. We cannot let that happen. I value our neighborhood schools, and I owe our accomplishments to the diligent work that custodians, cafeteria workers, school secretaries, bus drivers, principals and teachers do every day for our students in TUSD.
We have seen more sensationalized stories and misinformation than ever before during this election year. Our local races matter just as much as the presidency, especially when it comes to our kids. With your vote for TUSD, please do your research and consider individuals who are collaborative, focused on kids and schools and will commit to moving the district forward in a positive direction.
Kristel Ann Foster is running for re-election to the Tucson Unified School District Governing Board.