Challenger, Providence District School Board
Town of residence: Annandale, VA
Family: Parents, 3 siblings, 1 niece and 1 nephew
Education: Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, Tufts University (B.A., French and Anthropology), Johns Hopkins University (post-bac, pre-med certificate).
Offices held, dates: Minority Student Achievement Oversight Committee and the Adult and Community Education Committee of the Fairfax County School Board (2014-15)
Occupation and relevant experience: World language teacher, medical interpreter, community health worker, media and communications director
Community involvement: Member, Board of Directors of Homeowners Association, Member, Providence District Democratic Committee, Providence District Council, Representative, Fairfax Federation of Homeowners Association.
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter handle: @DaliaPalchik
Name three favorite endorsements: Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Fairfax County Democratic Committee, my 7-year old niece and FCPS 2nd-grader Marli.
What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
It’s time to take action by working collaboratively with local, state and federal officials to solve our budget problems, reduce the achievement gap, and make sure ALL students in Fairfax can succeed in a global society. It’s time to invest in classrooms and reduce high-stakes standardized testing. We must hold Richmond accountable for their lack of funding for education, change the LCI formula to bring back our tax dollars, and save long-term by expanding pre-K. I have already started this work, meeting with elected officials, local foundations, and thousands of residents in Providence district. We need to harness our local talent, and I plan on doing this by building a positive, proactive movement to raise awareness and improve partnerships to tackle these issues.
What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
I spend every day in the classroom, facing the unique challenges that this presents. I also graduated from FCPS. My opponent has never been a full-time educator. We need a stronger perspective from educators on the School Board. I will bring my experience from the classroom to the School Board.
How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?
FCPS offers many wonderful programs like AAP, AP/IB courses, immersion, and high school academies, but not all students have the same access to those programs. I will work to ensure all families are informed about opportunities in our schools. We must fully fund free and reduced meals, ESOL and special education programs that level the playing field and bridge the economic divide.
How will you address the achievement gap?
As a teacher, I understand what FCPS needs to do to recruit and retain quality teachers in our most needy classrooms. I will work with the county and nonprofits in providing wrap-around services for families, and be more innovative in working with our business community. In Utah, Goldman Sachs is investing in "social impact bonds" in the form of Pre-K programs. They understand that by investing now, they’ll receive a return through reduced special education services later. Increased Pre-K is the best way to close the achievement gap, and it saves taxpayer money. We need a system to expand Pre-K now.
More than half of the county budget is devoted to the local school system with a significant budget gap looming, both for FCPS and Fairfax County. What steps would you take to manage the gap and to fund the needs of the school system? What are the top priorities and what could be cut?
I will work closely with our Board of Supervisors and state representatives to secure more funding for FCPS. I’m proud to already have strong relationships with every congressman, delegate and state senator in my district, and the Board of Supervisors Chair, all of whom have endorsed my candidacy. I will build on these relationships to secure funding for our schools. We also must examine where our funding is going now. I will look at ways to streamline transportation costs and administrative overhead. Above all, I am committed to fully funding our classroom programs, teachers, and students.
What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?
Our schools are the primary reason businesses and families relocate to Fairfax County, and they keep our property values high and our community vibrant. The strength of our schools affects the entire community, and on the Board I will increase partnerships between schools and the community so that both benefit. If elected, I will advocate for an economic impact study so the public and the business community understand how FCPS drives economic growth.