Concord School Board, District C
Wife, Elizabeth Lahey, and a daughter
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
B.A. William Smith College; M.S.Ed. Simmons College (Special Education); J.D. Boston University School of Law
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Manchester School Board (Ward 5, 2010-2012)
Why are you seeking elective office?
I am running for the District C seat on the Concord School Board because I believe all students are entitled to an equitable education and opportunity to reach their full potential. The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the effects of systemic inequalities and inequities within our education system. All families and students are entitled to an education system that contemplates and addresses their unique circumstances and needs.
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
Educating our students safely during and after the pandemic is the greatest challenge for the District. Remote and hybrid learning does not work for all students and has negatively and disproportionately affected more marginalized communities, including New Americans, students with disabilities, and families and students who are low income and/or homeless. Moreover, all students have suffered as a result of remote learning from a social and emotional perspective.
I acknowledge that in-person learning presents challenges to certain communities, including those of color, because societal inequities place them at greater risk of contracting and succumbing to Covid-19. Thus, I will always support families having the option to engage in remote learning. That said, I would work to provide families with the option of having students safely back in school as often as possible. In my opinion, the summer was a missed opportunity for in-person learning and that is something the District should explore as an option in 2021. The District should also encourage community collaboration to provide additional supervised, learning opportunities for students. Some options exist now, but they do not accommodate all students and are cost prohibitive for many families.
Lastly, upon return, the District’s emphasis must be on students’ social and emotional health before working to “catch” students up academically. This has been a trauma and should be responded to by the schools as one. The Board and the District must understand that while some students have continued to progress, many have regressed in terms of social, emotional, and academic skills. We must acknowledge these disparate outcomes and explore innovative changes to our systems and curriculum to account for these new circumstances.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I am the most well-rounded and experienced candidate. First, I’ve been an educator. I taught in classrooms filled with students of all identities and backgrounds, and worked hard to understand and meet their individual needs so that they could succeed. Second, I’ve worked as an education lawyer. I drafted the same types of policies that Concord is working through now: reporting requirements, establishing boundaries, and student safety. I counseled and trained school administrators and teachers on these same policies. Third, I’ve been a school board member. I am the only candidate with this direct experience. In these capacities, I’ve worked on school budgets and participated in a head of school search process. Fourth, I’m a parent and am fully invested in the community and to ensuring that Concord provides an equitable education for all students.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
First, equity within education is a significant part of my platform. We must be honest that our schools do not provide equal opportunities to all students, be it because of race, sex, gender, learning style, sexual orientation, or national origin. This is a criticism of the system itself, not necessarily the people within the system. I have great respect for educators—I was one—but we need to focus on the experience and needs of all students and build a system that contemplates a broader demographic. Included in this, we need a teaching and administrative staff that represents our student population and we need to implement curriculum that is culturally relevant to our students.
Second, the District needs a strong new superintendent. The Board must conduct a thorough, national search and select an innovative leader focused on equity and providing opportunities for all students.
Third, the Board needs to restore transparency and communication with the community. In the wake of investigations and administrative turnover, the Board lost the trust of the public and needs to be rebuilt.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
As discussed above, my background makes me particularly well suited for this position.
The best advice ever shared with me was …
Do what you say you will do.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I would appreciate your vote on November 3rd!