Continually improve our public education - our greatest asset - and ensure that all of our students receive the encouragement and education they need to dream and achieve their aspirations. Celebrate and recognize the qualifications, dedication and pride of our educators - teachers, nurses, custodians, social workers, paraprofessionals, psychologists, specialists and administrators.

I first became engaged in our community while volunteering in classrooms in our public schools from Preschool to High School. Education is the single most important resource of a town. It is the key to a successful future for our students. Plus, when young families are looking for a place to live, they look for highly rated public schools.

I believe that equitable access to education is a fundamental right of all children. We expect Hamden Public School (HPS) administration, elected officials, educators, and families to collaborate to create an optimal learning environment that allows all students to reach their potential. Achieving this learning environment requires active, open, and bi-directional communication with the Board of Education, with public input seen as essential for reaching key decisions. I view equitable access to education in Hamden as one critical component of dismantling systemic racism and discrimination against students with disabilities.

Although communities love their schools and HPS educators are deeply committed to their students, there are multiple opportunities for dismantling systemic racism and improving equitable access to education for all Hamden students. HPS elementary schools are racially segregated. Black and brown students and those with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by exclusionary discipline practices. As a group, HPS educators do not reflect the diversity of the student population. The HPS curriculum is not universally culturally responsive. Opportunity gaps interfere with students achieving grade level, particularly for black, brown, ELL, students receiving free and reduced lunch, and special education students. School-based mental health providers have little time for direct student intervention due to other demands. COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbate these negative impacts with potentially long lasting, far reaching effects.

I will work to increase equitable access to a high-quality education for all Hamden students by:

Enhancing opportunities for communication between families, BOE, HPS administration, and HPS educators regarding educational policy.

Working to bring racial balance to HPS elementary schools.

Incorporating a culturally responsive, anti-racist curriculum at all levels of education, with appropriate and ongoing professional development opportunities for educators.

Increasing diversity of educators as a group.

Reconsidering exclusionary discipline approaches and investing in alternate approaches (e.g., SEL infused throughout all levels of education; investing in school-based mental health professionals and reallocating tasks which limit their direct student contact time; investing in trauma-informed educational practices; providing positive behavioral supports and utilizing restorative justice models; reconsidering the role of School Resource Officers).

Making data about exclusionary discipline publicly available on a yearly basis, including how discipline is experienced by black and brown students and those with disabilities.

Making data about student achievement publicly available on a yearly basis, including achievement levels of traditionally underserved students.

Striving for transparency and public input regarding all HPS policies.

Seeking opportunities to Incorporate universal access to pre-kindergarten.

Create a pathway for our Hamden High School students by providing resources, job training and increasing access for Hamden’s public service careers.

Addressing the needs of students, families, educators facing adversity and trauma, for example related to the effects of COVID-19.

Eliminate The Achievement Gap

I fully support Hamden Board of Education’s five goals for the next three years to begin to address the achievement gap.

  1. All students will demonstrate accelerated growth in reading with the goal of meeting proficiency by the end of grade three

  2. All students will demonstrate accelerated growth in math, with the goal of achieving Algebra I readiness by the end of grade eight

  3. Increase student achievement in grades 9-12

  4. Reduce student chronic absenteeism districtwide

  5. Increase equity districtwide

The achievement gap has been a longstanding challenge and we must do better. My administration’s goal is to completely eliminate the achievement gap.

To eliminate the achievement gap, we will need the full engagement of parents, students, school staff and education experts. Together, we will thoroughly examine the impediments to achievement and ensure that we have new strategies, tools and resources to eliminate the gap.

Special Education

Work with the Board of Education and encourage a more robust Special Education Program that educates more of our students within our Hamden Public Schools. We will reduce - with the longer term goal of eliminating - sending Hamden students to costly schools out of district where we have limited control of care or outcomes. Expand the preschool pyramid program. I trust that our educators can do more within our schools if they have the appropriate resources.

Teacher and Administration Diversity

61% of our students in Hamden Public Schools are black or brown. We need to meet the needs of all of our students and create a school system that provides mirrors and windows into their lives.

In 2019, I organized a panel discussion about Educational Justice that included Jody Goeler (Hamden Superintendent of Schools), Gary Highsmith (school district Director of Human Resources), David Canton (Connecticut College history professor), Jessica Powell (Southern Connecticut State University elementary education professor), Roxana Walker-Canton (founder of KIMCAN Academy) and Rhonda Caldwell (Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Committee organizer). New Haven Independent: Hamden Panel Calls For Teacher, Curriculum Diversity. This has encouraged the HPS administration to look into a teacher pipeline to recruit and retain black and brown teachers. Additionally, professional development will focus on cultural competency this coming school year.

Pre-K Program

We will make pre-k available at all of our elementary schools. This multiple benefits include closing the achievement gap, retaining more of our kids in Hamden Public Schools, and assisting young families with affordable options.

State Funding For Education

The State allocation of education funds shortchanges Hamden and increases our property taxes. My plan, already under way, includes the establishment of a robust dialogue to build relationships with the Governor and General Assembly so Hamden can get its fair share again, and we can provide the appropriate resources to schools, instead of closing them, and reduce our property taxes.

Promote Career and Technical Education (CTE)

Promote and Broaden the vocational training classes and alternative education opportunities at Hamden High

Encourage Innovation and Civic Engagement

Encourage student leadership in our high school through scholarships for continued education based on civic engagement during High School. Sponsor an innovation grant through the Hamden Education Foundation for a teacher who creates a program or activity for students that promotes experimentation with and exploration of potential career options.

Associates Degrees Awarded Upon High School Graduation

Students who take the prerequisite college level advanced placement classes will receive an accredited Associate's degree