Buckeye Elementary School District
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1. Are you a precinct committeeman? If yes, for how long?
2. Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you run for school board?
My name is Danielle Cornell and I am running for BESD#33 school board. I have lived in Maricopa county for over 15 years. I have spent the majority of my career in higher education, with most of that time being in leadership roles. I am a mom of three children in the district and have spent time in the school and classroom as a substitute, volunteer and PTSA member. In our August school board meeting, one of the presenters (Daniel Parris of Project Momentum) discussed that if you are not within 100 yards of the front lines, you don’t know what’s really going on. The classrooms are the front lines, and to make good decisions, school board members need to educate themselves on what is happening on the front lines. I want to make sure I know what’s happening on the front lines so, as a district, we can address the real problems happening in the classroom.
3. Do you support sexual education of children in the classroom? At what age do you believe this is appropriate, and do you believe that a parent should have the opportunity to opt out?
Biology has a place in the classroom. Children should learn the biology of the human body as it’s age appropriate. Parents should always have the option to opt out of things that they do not believe serve their children well. Children should be taught to have the highest level of respect for themselves and all of those they interact with.
4. Do you support the idea of parents being the sole stakeholders in their children’s lives?
No person is the sole stakeholder in a child’s life. Students are the primary stakeholder and parents secondary. Thankfully, family members, teachers and friends, among others, can be active participants in children’s lives. The positive influences of many people who have valuable life experiences to share and who can build meaningful relationships children. Parents should however be integrally involved in the education of their children, as they are ultimately responsible for ensuring their child’s education.
5. What is your position on critical race theory, social-emotional learning, LGBTQ inclusion, and equity issues in the classroom? What do you know of Bloom365 and Corwin Press and what are your opinions?
This is a loaded question that touches on topic that really are independent of one another. Agendas should not be pushed by teachers or administrators onto children. Parents should always be welcomed to participate in their child's education and have 100% transparency on what is happening in their child’s classroom including understanding and weighing in on curriculum. Children should be taught, by parents and by teachers, that all people have inherent value and worth. They should be taught to be kind to everyone and appreciate the differences that make our world and communities unique and beautiful. Simple kindness, compassion and respect for EVERYONE would go a long way in addressing all of the thing mentioned in the question.
6. Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?
Children come first, and the support of teachers comes closely after. I have seen decisions being made by people who have spent little time in the classroom who are often uninformed regarding what is best for students and teachers.
7. What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona?
The significant impacts of the pandemic on children’s education is a huge obstacle. So many children are behind academically and socially as a result of having their education disrupted and these students need support. The safety of our schools is also a huge priority, no parent or child should ever have to worry about if their school is safe. While I have ideas on how to resolve these problems, I believe that we will only identify the best solutions by bringing many voices and ideas to the table to find solutions to these significant challenges, including teachers, parents and community members. This will require encouraging increased participation from all of these groups in the school system.
8. How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers?
The state must make education a priority. The recent increase in funding is a good step in the right direction, but more can be done. There is not currently a voucher program in Arizona. I assume that the question is related to the Empowerment Scholarship Account program that is often incorrectly referred to as a voucher. Since I believe that every student should have the opportunity to get the best education that will meet their individual needs, I believe that the more options a family has to get a good education, the better. The Empowerment Scholarship Account program is heavily regulated to ensure funds are spent properly, but allows families to have many more options when seeking the best education for their children. The state and individual school districts must be more in tune with the needs of students, with no motivations other than a focus on each student, including financial motives. The goal should always be for a student to be educated wherever they will get their educational needs best met, even if it’s not at the public school they are assigned. I believe parents bear the responsibility of determining the best education for their children, no one else is more qualified to make that determination.
9. Do you have a plan to fund renovations of schools in your area that are run down?
Parents should always be welcomed to participate in their child's education and have 100% transparency on what is happening in their child’s classroom. Children should be taught, by parents and by teachers, that all people have inherent value and worth. They should be taught to be kind to everyone and appreciate the differences that make our world and communities unique and beautiful.
10. Do you have a plan to address the shortage of teachers?
I believe that to retain good teachers and attract new teachers, there has to be an environment of support where they are able to teach, in their unique way, with the unnecessary obstacles removed. We need to support teachers in what they need in the classroom, including more involvement from administrators and parents to lend support in the classroom as well as addressing student behavior issues to ensure teachers are respected by their students. Making their job a bit less impossible will help retain current teachers and attract additional teachers. Additionally, ensuring that they are compensated fairly for the amazing work that they do, making that budget element a priority over others while holding teachers who are not fulfilling their roles properly accountable, will help with the current staffing issues in the state.
11. Do you support allowing retired military or police officers, who pass background checks, to work or volunteer in our schools to prevent mass shootings?
School safety is the most important topic of any of the issues at hand. I do think that something similar to this type of plan would be a step in the right direction in ensuring safety at our schools.
12. Please feel free to add any additional information you would like voters to know about your candidacy.
The other individuals running in my district have been on the school board for many years. Though I have not been on a school board before, I am a parent to children who are currently attending school in the district and I have spent time in the classroom recently and seen the current challenges. We need creative solutions to the problems we face, which are unlike any challenges that educators have ever faced before. I believe that a new face on the school board is exactly what is needed!