Emerick is a lifelong Minneapolis resident, an MPS grad, and a parent of an MPS student. "Our educational system holds a standardized idea of how every student should learn and behave that’s based in whiteness and ableism," she said. "When kids can’t fit that narrow standard, we too often exclude them from the educational experience. That exclusion affects the learning environment for every single student whose needs and identities are devalued. Educators need to be supported to provide culturally sustaining instruction and an environment of true belonging, and all stakeholder groups need leadership committed to ensuring delivery of that support and to engaging our families and communities in authentic, meaningful ways. It’s my honor to participate in this important work."
How will you reduce the achievement gap between Black and White students in the district?
MPS needs to meaningfully and effectively implement its Climate Framework at every site and across stakeholder groups in service of dismantling racism and related forms of oppression in the district. It’s time for leadership to commit to bringing our school communities together to co-create transparent metrics for implementation so that every student, including and especially students of color and Indigenous students, have access to safe and culturally sustaining educational spaces where they have the opportunity to learn from well-supported, highly skilled educators who racially and culturally mirror them.
How will you change the culture of a top-down management approach and seek to include the voices of teachers, paraprofessionals and other staff in decisions?
Systems for integrating community voice must be co-crafted with parents, caregivers, families, and other stakeholders. We need to stop imposing surveys and public opinion collection strategies that aren’t serving their purpose, and instead honor and expand avenues for feedback that communities have identified as useful and important.
How will you bridge the gap following the strike between teachers/paraprofessionals/parents/students and administrators?
Educators need to be treated like skilled professionals, and they need to see leadership fighting HARD for state funding to increase their wages and address working conditions.
Families have been clear about their need for increased culturally responsive engagement. Communities are brilliant at and motivated to generate feedback about their experiences and priorities. MPS leadership must learn how to listen, and how to be in conversation with our families and communities, in order to establish a starting place for repair.
How will you follow up on the Comprehensive District Design and evaluate the changes?
I would use the metrics outlined in the strategic plan to track CDD impact. What I am most concerned with is how we move forward to mitigate disruption, celebrate and expand our gains, and ensure that what we have gone through together is in service to a system that prioritizes equitable access to a high quality education for every single one of our kids.
What are your ideas for educating students holistically?
I believe fiercely that all students are engaged, motivated and skilled learners, and it is the job of educational leadership to remove barriers. I’m passionate about frameworks and practices that honor all student strengths, needs and identities as valuable and enriching characteristics of our learning communities. I’m committed to elevating student voice and developing our future leaders by giving our children opportunities to successfully lead today, particularly those disproportionately harmed by disparities and difficulties.
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