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.http://tucson.com/news/opinion/column/guest/kristel-ann-foster-keep-tusd-on-the-right-track/article_30576e30-961f-57d4-89c9-9812c7cd17c7.html

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