Nikki Otero Lockwood is a candidate for Spokane Public Schools’ Board of Directors Position No. 1.
Otero Lockwood has worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. She’s also served with the Every Student Counts Alliance, Steering Committee for Spokane Community Against Racism, as well as the Spokane Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.
Otero Lockwood attended University High School and continued on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Eastern Washington University.
Otero Lockwood answered the following four questions for 4 News Now.
What is the biggest issue the district is currently dealing with? What’s your solution?
As someone who has been involved in district-side work for the past six years, behavior management has been an ongoing issue. I believe due to the budget issues our schools are not adequately staffed. This is creating safety issues and concerns. Some schools are not feeling safe to handle behavior management issues. We need to get our budget in order to get back to full staffing. We all want safe schools and need to look at all budget solutions to get our staffing back to a safe level.
What is the biggest safety gap in Spokane Public Schools? Do you think school resource officers should be armed?
As the Spokane Education Association endorsed candidate and a parent, I have listened to teachers concerns and parent concerns around safety. I believe we need more behavior management resources and supports to keep students and staff safe. I applaud the work the district has done to create more positive school climate including work to include Social Emotional Learning curriculum, trainings on restorative practices and improvements to exclusionary discipline and students arrests. These all
evidence-based practices to help to create a positive school climate and improve safety. I take safety very seriously and that’s why I only support evidence-based practices like those outlined above.
Having armed personnel is not evidence-based to improve school safety and doesn’t address the more prevalent issues around safety. A police officer with a gun doesn’t solve the issue of a five year old having a meltdown related to autism or not having had early learning to prepare for the routines of kindergarten. Having armed personnel will take money away from where it is really needed.
What do you foresee as the biggest challenges the community will face with upcoming boundary changes? How will the school board mitigate families’ concerns?
Change is never easy. Boundary changes impact daily routines and expectations that families have.
The school board should be involved and accessible to community on these issues. School board members should look at the changes through an equity lens and make sure that those that struggle the most are not being the most negatively impacted by boundary changes, which would impact student success.
Our family has been grateful for the many choice options in our school district but I also want to acknowledge the privilege we have in terms of time and transportation options to utilize those wonderful choice programs that some do not.
How do you define student success?
I feel like all kids are wired to learn, so why do we have different outcomes? Some kids are born at the starting line and some have to run a marathon just to get to the starting line, that represents some of the
diversity our community. Student success can be looked at with metrics like test scores or graduation rate, suspension or arrest rates among groups but it must also include how many students have a sense of belonging, and are they getting what they need from our district to learn and do they leave with
a sense of purpose and a solid plan for their adult future.
As the mother of two very different students, one with a disability, I really have adjusted what my idea of student success is. I want her to reach her full potential, just like my other daughter. I want her educators and administrators to have high expectations and hold her accountable. She’s in a great program now, but at times I felt like those in power didn’t really feel invested in my daughter’s success. I’m running for school board because I think through policy and accountability we help more students achieve success.
Did you know that 90% of students with disabilities in our state have average or above intelligence but only graduate at a 66% rate in our district? Why is that? One measure of student success is graduation rate, but another is adequate funding to get students what they need to succeed. Our district, like so many, is underfunded for special education.