Sarah Mehrotra

RSVP here for Virtual Town Hall with BOE and other City-Wide Candidates September 16, 2020 at 6:30pm.


 

Charter Schools vs. DCPS

Ever-increasing enrollments in DCPCS forced the DCPS chancellor to propose closing fifteen DC Public Schools in an effort to manage scarce resources more efficiently. It’s been more than a decade since DC adopted Charter Schools. Name a specific benefit and challenge with both entities? If elected, what goals do you expect to provide?

I believe in investing in our neighborhood public schools. So often in education, the challenge is less about a lack of resources, and more about a lack of political will to make change. On the SBOE, I will ensure on day one that I fight for investing in our community public schools. 

Mental Health

According to the CDC Mental Disorders among children are described as serious changes in the way children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which cause distress and problems getting through the day. Childhood trauma, being one aspect, is prevalent in some poverty to low income households. If elected, what can voters expect from you to improve this dilemma amongst school age children’s mental health?

Improving mental health resources is one of my top priorities. Growing up, I was one of the many children who received mental health supports from school. Unfortunately, we are lacking in adequate support in DC: the American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-school-counselor ratio of 250:1. Here in DC, that ratio is 514:1. The pandemic has made mental health support more important than ever. Students’ whole lives have been upended overnight - they lost their routine, peer-to-peer interaction, and are seeing family members’ health put at risk. Allocating funding for school counselors, social workers, and psychologists will be my priority on day one. 

Preparing Students academically

According to the Non-profit Hechinger Report each year, when they get to campus, more than half a million American college students have to take so-called remedial or developmental education classes to teach them basic math and English skills they should have learned in high school. Main-stream media and written newspaper articles have constantly reported how DC students are ill prepared for college and the workforce after Secondary Graduation. If elected what would be a priority of yours to change this dilemma?

One of the many roles schools play is preparing students for colleges and careers. As a SBOE representative, I will prioritize partnering with local small businesses and organizations across Wards to set up internships. These internships will both give students hands-on learning experience and foster community investment from organizations in our students and schools. 

Education

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought on new challenges in the classroom of learning.  In DC textbooks, laptops and school materials are the necessities for a quality learning environment within a classroom setting. The American Academy of Pediatrics, a national association of pediatricians, issued guidance July 1, 2020 advocating for in-person classes in the fall. Remote learning, the academy said, will likely result in severe learning loss and social isolation that can lead to serious emotional and health issues for students. If elected, what improvements would you promote to implement during these challenging times?

I believe that the decision to go back to in person learning should be made with all stakeholders at the table: teachers, families, OSSE, SBOE, and public health experts. We cannot reopen schools until we have community buy-in from all of these groups. In the meanwhile, it is imperative to establish learning pods and outdoor learning programs. 

Teachers

On July 1, 2020 DCIST reported Teachers in D.C. Public Schools are pushing back against preliminary plans to reopen schools in the fall, arguing the city school system has not adequately addressed health and safety concerns.

Before the pandemic challenges, teachers were being physically and mentally abused in one-on-one personal classroom settings and the students’ behavior has become a big challenge. How do you see yourself being able to address these concerns?

One of my top priorities is protecting teachers. We in DC have one of the highest teacher turnover rates in the country - and it is because we do not listen to and value teachers as we should. When it comes to providing supports for teaching, my first step will be listening to teachers through focus groups, school climate surveys and exit surveys when they leave the classroom. 

 

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