Town of residence: Reston
Family: Two children
Education: B.A. in Economics from the University of Virginia; J.D. from Vanderbilt University
Offices held, dates: Hunter Mill representative on the Fairfax County School Board, 2012 to now; current chair of the Fairfax County School Board
Occupation and relevant experience: teacher; former lawyer
Community involvement: president, F.B. Meekins Cooperative Preschool in Vienna; president, Louise Archer PTA; president, Malcolm Windover Heights Civic Association; founding member, Vienna Teen Center Foundation
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter handle: VotePat
Name three favorite endorsements: Fairfax County Federation of Teachers; Fairfax Education Association; State Senators and Delegates who represent Reston and Vienna
What is one issue that defines your call to serve, why does it matter, and how will you tackle it?
As an educator, my goal is that we meet students' needs every day in every classroom. That means closing achievement gaps and offering challenging, child-centered instruction to all. We must recruit and retain a well-trained, respected and competitively compensated workforce. We must replace the high-stakes test score chase with skills-based teaching and assessment that will prepare our students to communicate well, collaborate, and solve problems creatively.
What distinguishes you from your opponent(s) and why should voters choose you?
I was a classroom teacher in FCPS from 2003 to 2012, which gives me unique insights and strong connections to the classroom. My legal training is also an important foundation, as school boards work within many legal constraints. As a PTA and community leader for two decades in Vienna and Reston, I built broad networks and developed a good understanding of the community's goals and values. Finally, I have served on the FCPS school board for the last four years, this year as the chair of the board. This board has been active and productive. I hope to continue that good work with my colleagues and use my experience to tackle the challenges ahead.
How will you address the growing economic divide in county schools?
FCPS must continue to provide resources to schools based on the needs of their students. But the school board should also be a more active voice in land use planning, to advocate for the kind of diverse communities that help schools thrive. With families from 200 countries and all socioeconomic backgrounds, our diversity is our greatest strength. As a county, we must manage that so that all children benefit.
How will you address the achievement gap?
The FCPS Strategic Plan sets an appropriately bold goal: to close all achievement gaps. The critical next steps are to set measurable objectives and implement more equitable practices. We must be more intentional about expanding preK, integrating classrooms, and having high expectations for all. We should post an equity scorecard, prominently on the FCPS website, with updated achievement results broken down by socioeconomic, language and learning disability subsets. That transparency will help the community hold us accountable for real progress.
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?
FCPS is spending $1,000 less per student, in real dollars, than we were seven years ago. Those cuts have come from teacher pay freezes, class size increases and significant cuts in central office support. It is time to reinvest. I will not vote for a budget that freezes teacher pay or raises elementary class size. If we find that revenues do not meet needs for 2017, my priorities will be guided by the broad community input we have already begun to gather. Longer term, it is essential that the school board and county board budget more strategically and more collaboratively, and that we modernize and diversify the revenue base.
What value does FCPS add for taxpayers who do not have children in the schools?
A world class school system like FCPS draws businesses and families to the county from all around the country and the world. Good jobs and higher property values follow. Great schools are the most powerful public investment we make.