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  • Joanna Bache Tobin

Approaching Equity: The Fundamentals Our Schools Must Address

My deep belief that our communities cannot evolve to a stable, healthy-functioning society without good public education is the core driver of my candidacy to represent District 6 on the Board of Education. Inequities in education opportunities in Anne Arundel County continue to undermine our ability to build a sound, functional society. A persistent opportunity gap hurts everyone. Each time a child is left behind in our education system — failing to get the opportunities they need and deserve —we all suffer the consequences. Each individual failure is one less child who is likely to grow up to lead a productive, fulfilling life. It is one less person in our community who has gained the tools necessary to achieve independence and self-determination, hallmarks of life as a productive citizen.

For these reasons, equity for all lies at the root of my campaign platform. But equity is about more than just what transpires the classroom. To increase equity, there are fundamental starting points. Following are immediate issues that I plan to address if elected to the BOE:

School transportation must be accessible, reliable, and safe. We must ensure the recommendations of the recently released comprehensive evaluation of AACPS transportation services are fully implemented, including efficient routing systems, effective communication with parents, activity buses for children at all levels, and safe and healthy school-start-times. Opportunity begins when a child boards a school bus.

Consistent, effective system-wide responses to bias and hate crimes and bullying. We must ensure the AACPS Code of Conduct (student handbook) fully addresses hate and bullying, and that the code is applied consistently throughout our district. I believe families of students found responsible for such actions must be required to fully participate in the remedial process, including steps to write a clear, public apology.

Access to pre-kindergarten for children whose families cannot afford private instruction. By the time a child reaches 3 years old, 80 percent of their brain is formed. By age 5, 90 percent of a child’s brain has developed. For this reason, all our children deserve the same access to the intellectual and social growth opportunities that help to shape their futures and ours.

Equal access to broadband and digital devices that enable all our students to do their school work online. The Covid19 pandemic has demonstrated a large opportunity gap between the haves and have nots with regard to student access to devices and Internet that enable online learning. To bandage the wounds of students without access to either, AACPS had to quickly reconfigure and distribute several thousand laptops and ensure unrestricted broadband access in several public places. Let this gap be a milestone for our planning for the future.

Limiting class sizes so teachers can form real relationships with their students. Many class sizes approach 30 students or more. Data show that relationships between students and their teachers boost learning outcomes. Knowing each student as a whole person also makes it less likely that teachers will fall back on implicit bias when determining a child’s full potential.

Meeting special education needs. Students who have special needs must receive early diagnosis and interventions. We must ensure faithful and transparent implementation of individualized education plans. Special needs must be met fully and fairly.

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©2020 by Friends of Joanna Bache Tobin.  Authorized by Friends of Joanna Bache Tobin - Susan Levine, Treasurer