IASD CANDIDATE: Danica Jackson
Why vote for Danica Jackson?
Jackson has a background in education and social services, and moved with her family from Arkansas to Indiana in August 2010.
She began working part time at a group home while a researcher at the University of Oklahoma, then taught seventh-grade science and coached basketball at an inner-city junior high school.
“We moved to a small town and I got work as a parent educator for teen parents in a nonprofit agency. From then on, I did social services, with juvenile and violent offender programs, teen parent group homes and alternative schools.
“In Arkansas … I was an advocate in the court system for foster kids.”
On balancing the budget with revenue increases and spending cuts:
“You have to find creative income resources outside the box, whether it be sponsorship or outside funding. But that’s hard to do, that’s difficult.
“The best bet is to prioritize our spending within our current budget.”
Where to spend or save money:
“You first have to take care of absolute basics, what we’re required to provide for the children.
“You have to support the teachers with learning and behavior specialists.
“Teacher contract negotiations are coming up and we have to find a sustainable agreement we can use going forward.
“Athletics has to be in question and I know that’s not a popular answer.
“But I always look at that as a bonus to education: important, but not meeting the basics.”
Priorities for board in next two years:
Jackson said the condition of Eisenhower Elementary School shocked her when she enrolled her son there.
“I could not wrap my head around how a district would allow the youngest students to daily sit in those buildings,” she said.
“The junior and senior high schools have had significant remodeling. You have new turf on the field, which is great, but it shows a priority over keeping our kids healthy and safe.”
Jackson said the elementary curriculum is strong, but the board should improve the buildings.
“I would like to … have the most resources possible to assist the teachers and administration in getting those kids off to a good start. They set the foundation.
“If those kids in elementary school are not successful, it results in remedial work in junior high and high school.”On academic priorities:
“I think the basics, reading and math, are important, but I think we have to focus more on science and technology. Those are going to be the most important in the future. But I don’t think we can forget social studies, music and art.
“Those are all part of having a well-balanced student.
“When you get into the high school, some of the lower priorities are the classes that are more specialized and will typically have a very low enrollment and serve only a very small population of the students. Maybe we don’t need all of the electives.”
On influencing the state of education:
“I would like to see less focus on testing. We’ve gotten into a culture of testing and it puts stress on the students and teachers.
“I don’t think that it’s a good measure of children’s achievements.
“I would like to see less personal agendas among the powers that be and the power struggles and egos that have nothing to do with what’s best for our students.”