I have personally known Donna for a number of years. She is a person of high integrity, intelligence, and drive. She would be a stellar addition to the Nevada State Board of Education and a wonderful advocate for our state’s school children.
From her bio at the Nevada Appeal:
Explain your background and how this qualifies you for the position you are seeking.
I taught 5th and 6th grade, trained high school students in job-seeking and on-the-job skills, was a juvenile prosecutor, represented abused, neglected children, and was staff attorney for the National School Safety Center. I am an expert on prevention of school crime and a strategic planner in juvenile and criminal justice specializing in interagency cooperation and communication. I was a lobbyist at two state legislatures, drafted legislation which became law, and can build relationships with leaders at city, county, school district and state levels. These skills are essential to gaining support for education reforms that are still needed in Nevada.
I have served on many boards and currently chair the Northwest Reno Neighborhood Advisory Board and am vice-chair of the Reno Senior Citizens Advisory Committee. I know how effective board members can work together to build consensus to execute their plans and to reach their goals for their communities. I have facilitated many strategic planning processes and helped many communities create action plans. I believe that the State Board of Education must create and implement a new strategic plan if it is to reach its goals and objectives to reform Nevada schools.
What are the two most important issues to you and what should be done to resolve them?
Improving Nevada’s high school graduation rates is one of my highest priorities, both for individual students and the future well-being of our state. The second priority, and closely linked, is preparing all students to be career- or college-ready. An educated workforce draws new businesses and improves our economy. An educated community improves our democracy and the quality of life for everyone.
Let’s improve statewide graduation rates by:
• Using current data systems to create early warning and intervention systems that use the early predictors of potential dropouts (attendance, behavior, reading and math performance) to prevent students from dropping out in the first place. Contact all identified students and their parents and create individual plans to get them back on track.
• Identifying 3rd and 4th grade struggling readers and providing continuous remediation until skills are up to par. Do the same with struggling middle school math students.
• Reducing chronic absenteeism by engaging parents, assigning staff to follow-up, reporting statistics, and holding schools and districts accountable for improvement.
• Identifying and connecting with low-credit high school students and their parents to create individual plans for them to earn missing credits needed to graduate. Provide credit recovery programs that meet their needs.
Let’s better prepare students for college or careers by:
• Building strong partnerships between schools and the employment and business community to design classes to teach students the skills they need to get and keep a job in today’s economy.
Offer those clearly identified career programs in middle and high schools and continue support to magnet schools, technical and arts academies, schools-within-schools, and charter schools.
• Aligning high school courses with college courses to ensure that students master the foundation knowledge and skills while in high school that they will need in college. New Common Core State Standards will help us do that.
• Reducing costly remedial college courses by giving the math and English placement tests to college-bound high school students and providing remediation in high school until they can pass the placement tests.
• Eliminating Nevada’s high school proficiency exams and replacing them with nationally-known tests that are better predictors of knowledge, skills and abilities such as the ACT or National Career Readiness test, depending on whether the student is going to college or into the workforce.
Why should voters choose you over the other candidate?
Nevada schools have been struggling for years at the bottom of all the good lists and at the top of all the bad lists. The State Board of Education has long stood on the sidelines on most of the reforms that were needed and that were recently enacted by the Governor and the Legislature.
The newly restructured State Board of Education can become a strong voice and advocate for our K-12 schools. It is time to elect some dynamic new leaders to the State Board of Education to create an action plan to implement these reforms consistently and efficiently in every district.
I want to take on this challenge. I have the experience, leadership skills and vision to build proactive partnerships with teachers, administrators, parents, community, business and government leaders. With their ideas and commitment, we can create a workable plan that will improve our children’s education.