Scottsdale Unified School District
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1. Are you a precinct committeeman? If yes, for how long?
Yes, as of 10/1/2022
2. Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you run for school board?
At 11 years old, I landed on the tarmac to "America" by Neil Diamond playing over the loudspeakers. Three weeks later, I walked into a public school classroom and stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. While I did not speak English, I knew in that moment I was in the greatest country on earth. As a public school mom of three, proven leader, and business owner, I have been on the front lines and in the trenches in our Scottsdale Unified Schools for a decade, as my youngest just graduated in May. I attend board meetings — even the ones no one else goes to. I meet with administrators and review the curriculum on their devices; I know where the problematic curriculum is and have a plan to remove it. I served on various committees in SUSD and have built strong relationships with parents, teachers, and administrators. In May 2020, the community was in lockdown, and Zoom was the new classroom, while athletic programs and extracurricular activities were canceled. I recognized the harmful impacts that closing down these outlets had on students. So I took action and launched a campaign, rallying 140 parents, and successfully got sports and extracurricular activities restarted. I recently spoke with a coach in the athletic department who told me, "Carine, had you not done that, we would not have had sports in 2020." I have witnessed the steady decline in merit-based academics, with test scores tanking and teachers leaving the district in droves. Even the eight-year age gap between my oldest and youngest has revealed stark differences in how our children are educated. In 2021 the 10th-grade math proficiency rate at Coronado High School was 8%, and Desert Mountain High School was 49%, according to the state exam. Not one of SUSD's five high schools graduated their students at above 50% proficiency in math or ELA. 2022 test scores will be published after the November election according to an administrator.
• Put our students and academic achievement • first.
• Empower parents and give our community a • voice.
• Support our quality teachers-putting more • money back in the classroom.
• Build a culture of trust – ensuring • transparency and accountability.
• Restore traditional education, focusing on • academics, not politics, and return to developing students' interests, not • identities. Real change will take common-sense leaders who can influence others to see their vision for our schools. I am that leader and experienced the disarray in our district, and I am committed to getting our public schools back on track for Scottsdale students, parents, teachers, and our community. As your next school board member, I will bring an enduring passion to secure our children's future, respect for our parents, restore trust, and build consensus without compromising our values. However, most importantly, I have a proven track record of positively impacting our community. I'm ready to serve our community on the Scottsdale Unified Governing Board. With an extensive professional background in finance, as a business owner, and on-the-ground experience in causing positive change for students, parents, teachers, and community members, there is no better voice to advocate for you. Learn more here - www.wernerforsusd.com
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?
AZ Parents Bill of Rights clearly states parents can opt their children out of curriculum and activities they find is not suitable for their children. We must honor and abide by this law. In the current climate sexual education should not be in our schools. From purely a biological perspective - 7th or 8th grade.
4. Do you support the idea of parents being the sole stakeholders in their children’s lives?
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?
Every student, no matter their background, gender or ethnicity are valued and must be given the opportunity to thrive. I take seriously parent concerns about critical race theory, culturally responsive teaching, social emotional learning, gender ideology, equity (and a host of other ever-changing curriculum labels), and I will fight for transparency and be the voice that parents and taxpayers don't have today. When small children come home confused about gender or questioning American values, parents rightly should be concerned. This must stop. We must let our children be children and we must focus on academics not politics.
6. Based on the limitations and powers of a school board member, what’s your platform?
There are 4 critical issues that we must will tackle as a Governing Board member:
1) Abysmal academic performance
2) Parents' rejection of SUSD in record numbers
3) Ensure fair teacher pay
4) Safety and Security for our students and staff.
1. We must put students and their academic achievement first. I will work relentlessly to ensure our schools develop strong, engaged, academically successful students for all families. Restore traditional academics, developing students' interests over identities. Politics, woke and gender ideologies have no place in our classrooms. I will work to remove the divisive curriculum that has been swept into our schools.
2. The school board must empower parents, not ignore and demonize them. My superpower is building bridges with people of all opinions and backgrounds. We need a board who will listens to and support parents and community members' ideas and honor parents' rights to make decisions for their children while being accessible, accountable, and transparent in all areas, and to our parents and community. And make SUSD the schools parents want to send their kids to.
3. We must recognize and reward our quality teachers putting money back in the classroom, building a culture of trust and transparency, and make SUSD a place where quality teachers want to stay. The Arizona legislature approved the most significant yearly increase in K-12 education the last eight years (with an additional $1 billion in year-over-year spending, total K-12 spending for this year is $8.45 billion) Governor Ducey directly called on school board members to ensure these funds are directed to teachers – adding property tax and federal funding the total budget is $14.88 billion dollars. I commit to using my vote on the school board to prioritize funding for teachers' compensation and putting money into the classroom not to pet projects and administrative bloat.
4. We must ensure the safety of our schools through support of our valued School Resource Officers (SROs), partnerships with the Scottsdale Police Department and continuous review and improvement of our safety procedures. The Arizona legislature has approved $50 million in ongoing funding for school safety, supporting school resource officer salaries, and $20 million for the school safety interoperability program, which provides funding to county sheriffs for real-time communication solutions between schools and public safety agencies in the event of an emergency. We must elect individuals who will direct this money to support school safety measures and have uniformed police officers on each campus. This also fosters good relationship between students and police.
7. What do you believe to be the biggest issue impacting K-12 students in Arizona?
Many parents are not choosing SUSD when it comes to their children's education. This has a devastating, and growing, impact on district funding and, frankly SUSD's reputation. Communication between board members, parents, and the community needs to be easy, transparent, and accessible. Current leadership has not been listening to parents or community members. We must mend this divide and put our students first and proactively honor the Parents Bill of Rights. The current leadership has supported an increasingly woke ideology and have attacked parents who seek transparency. We must have strong leadership committed to our students and community - giving every student the opportunity to thrive.
8. How do you think the state should support public education? Do you believe in expanding school vouchers?
I believe that strong communities have strong public schools, and I'm committed to ensuring that our budget and curriculum are focused on giving all students opportunities to thrive. Our public schools should be the #1 academic option in the neighborhood and an institution that our community can be proud of. Parents have the right to direct their children's education and are the ultimate decision-makers of which school is best for them. I will fight to improve the product so parents want to choose SUSD and our enrollment increases again.
9. Do you have a plan to fund renovations of schools in your area that are run down?
SUSD has been consistent in upkeep, repairs, and renovations.
10. Do you have a plan to address the shortage of teachers?
We can't have strong schools unless we support and reward quality teachers and empower parents. Many teachers are overwhelmed with unnecessary laborious tasks while being forced to teach curricula they don't believe in. We must restore traditional academics and ensure teachers have the support they need which directly impacts the quality of our students' education. Bring parents back into the classroom to lend a helping hand our teachers so desperately need. We must pay our teachers a fair wage. The current board has failed our teachers. Money made available for teacher's salary increases have been directed to administration, social media marketing, and an increase in staff headcount, even as our student enrollment declines. The Arizona legislature approved the most significant yearly increase in K-12 education the last eight years (with an additional $1 billion in year-over-year spending, total K-12 spending for this year is $8.45 billion) Governor Ducey directly called on school board members to ensure these funds are directed to teachers – adding property tax and federal funding the total budget is $14.88 billion. I commit to using my vote on the school board to prioritize funding for teachers' compensation and putting money into the classroom, not for pet projects and administrative bloat.
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?
12. Please feel free to add any additional information you would like voters to know about your candidacy.
It would be my honor to serve as your next SUSD board member. I envision a Scottsdale school system where students stand for the Pledge of Allegiance and have a genuine pride for our country, where each student knows that no matter their background, that they are valued, and that opportunity is offered to them by our great nation. I will work to ensure a school system where students graduate at or above grade level, are prepared to secure meaningful employment, attend a vocational school or college, find great on-the-job training programs or start their own businesses. This is my vision. If it's yours too, let's stand together. Vote for Carine Werner for Scottsdale School Board on November 8, 2022.