Candidate for Big Lake School Board
November 8, 2022
Candidate for Big Lake School Board
November 8, 2022
I am running for the Big Lake School Board because parents deserve to know what is taught to their children, and taxpayers deserve to know how their money is spent. I want to help guide policy that ensures trust in the parent-school partnership and remains grounded in academic excellence. Many components contribute to academic excellence: arts, sports, extracurriculars, etc. Above all, on graduation day, our students deserve to leave with a quality education that has prepared them for their next stage in life. A commitment to high academic achievement, parental rights and transparency will guide me as I represent our community.
Policy needs to guide the district curriculum and align with community values.
Policy needs to recognize the line between school and parent.
I have requested a policy be created on the use of consultants. Clarification on selection process, who has hiring authority and process for performance review, as well as ensuring documentation is kept of what they teach (to teachers or students). Parents deserve to know who from outside the district is in contact with their children and the community deserves to know what outside messages their tax dollars are paying for.
I have requested a Controversial Topics Policy be considered. A policy on controversial topics, library and classroom library books, to ensure we are keeping our kids safe from inappropriate material, maintaining our parents' trust by not violating their family values, and aren’t making headlines. A controversial topics policy could cover this and ensure lessons and books within set topics are approved for classroom libraries. In the current climate, more than ever, it is important to have it in policy that a teacher should be a neutral moderator of information, not pushing an agenda.
I have had conversations as well as spoken during Open Forum to advocate for parental involvement.
Every child has the potential for greatness! This is why I am against CRT. Our children are all unique with individual strengths and needs. Our Big Lake teachers get to know our students! Teachers need to have resources to help children grow their strengths and meet their needs. To first see children as members of a group with preassigned characteristics, would be a disservice for everyone. I submitted a proposed change to the curriculum policy to be modified to exclude divisive racial ideology and anti-American rhetoric.
I encourage the school to make course lesson outlines and material lists easily available to parents. This will help facilitate student learning by allowing parents to ask more focused questions about their child's studies. Family values, beliefs and approaches to the subject matter could be discussed timely. This level of transparency would also allow parents to request additional information and/or lesson materials for specific lessons.
MN Statute 120B.20 allows parents to review curriculum and opt-out their student if an assignment or lesson is objectionable. I encourage parents to know their rights!
The state shouldn't dictate your family's values. I will continue to advocate for parental rights and transparency.
The School Board needs to make the expectation for curriculum transparency clear through policy or a memorandum to administration. Our wonderful teachers already create lesson plans, instructional roadmaps, etc. Put it online. It shouldn't take cumbersome (for all parties) records requests.
Sexual education must be developmentally appropriate and medically accurate.
The MN House has proposed or passed several variations of a bill that would limit or take away local control and instead push a state model of comprehensive sexual education decided by St. Paul for KINDERGARTEN through 12. If enacted, the school must be transparent about any changes! If necessary, I will work to opt-out of any future state endorsed model.
For all of the challenges of distance learning, the district was given a unique opportunity to see the possibilities of lesson differentiation for students. However, this was a often missed opportunity.
Having our students off-campus highlighted and in some cases brought-to-light individual learning styles, academic needs, and the abundance of technology that is available to support these differing learning models.
With a large majority of assignments being done on student’s school-issued devices (even when in-person), we have an opportunity to have more student-tailored lesson plans. What is the point of skills testing if we don’t use the data that is collected? If a student has mastered fractions, but needs additional help with geometry, they should be able to test-out of the fractions lesson and move into extra geometry instruction. Utilizing Big Lake Online for gifted education and accelerated coursework should also be considered. Our gifted students have unique needs that are not being recognized and supported. Every student deserves to be supported as a unique learner.
Big Lake needs to embrace these different needs and focus on academic differentiation to become the destination school we want to be.
We have GREAT TEACHERS in Big Lake! As a board member I will work to support their mission to teach our children and meet their individual strengths and needs.
I value respectful dialogue. More progress is made through conversation than a Facebook post. If concerns arise, I encourage and empower anyone to reach out to our amazing teachers, the principals, the superintendent or the school board.
Consideration and respect for taxpayers, both in spending money within a given budget, but also in maintaining our facilities to prevent more expensive future repairs.
I supported the proposed Bond Referendum to maintain, repair and update our current facilities. The community has made a substantial investment in our school facilities, we have an obligation to maintain them.
I also appreciate the updates the school is providing to the community on Facebook, their website and during board meetings, on building project progress from the Bond Referendum.
Mandates from the government have to be followed, however I will continue to contact my state and federal legislatures to protect local and personal control.
I fully support the current Board and Superintendent's statements and communications that Big Lake Schools COVID-19 protocols will not be more restrictive than legally required.
As a family, we were grateful to leave the masks behind last year, but I support anyone who wants to have themselves or their child wear a mask when in-person.
We are fortunate to have Big Lake Online available for those families who are not yet comfortable with in-person learning, or who benefit from a different learning environment. Big Lake Online students are still able to participate in band, extra-curricular activities, and stay connected and guided by Big Lake teachers.
My husband, Truman, and I moved to Big Lake in 2007 and have 4 children in Big Lake Middle School, Independence Elementary, Liberty Elementary, and ECFE. I have seen many positives from the Big Lake School District since we enrolled our first son in ECFE in 2009 and our family’s subsequent progression through the district. But, I have also seen many areas for improvement in terms of academic and social opportunities, communication, and policies that could do more for our students.
More work needs to be done to ensure curriculum, policies and expenses are transparent. More work needs to be done to support every student as a unique learner. More work needs to be done to communicate with and involve parents. We need to work to maintain and restore parental trust in the education our Big Lake Students receive. I am ready to work.
Parents are the key stake-holders of their children; and their responsibility and role needs to be respected. Lesson outlines with materials used for all classes need to be made available online at the beginning of a course. This will help facilitate student learning by allowing parents to ask more focused questions about their child's studies. Family values, beliefs and approaches to the subject matter could be discussed timely. This level of transparency would also allow parents to request additional information and/or lesson materials for specific lessons, and provide time to opt-out of assignments if they so choose. Ultimately we need full curriculum transparency, but this is a practical first step that can be accomplished quickly with low cost.
Tax dollars from all political affiliations pay for our school and we need to respect that. All children need to be seen as the unique individuals they are; not assumed to have pre-assigned characteristics and abilities based on race or socioeconomic status. Students need to be taught core educational and critical thinking skills, and an appreciation for our United States so they are prepared to be future leaders and responsible citizens.
Public education needs to be politically neutral.
We must work within the government mandates that push more and more ideology into our classrooms, but we also must stand up for our students and families. Often there is room for local control, to not be as aggressively political as suggested.
As is the case with Critical Race Theory. The Minnesota Department of Education requires teachers receive "Cultural Competency Training" for re-licensure, defined in Minnesota Administrative Rule 8710.0310. The Professional Educator License and Standards Board (PELSB) has trained facilitators who can contract with schools, a list of their approved trainers reveals Critical Race Theory and its tenants as a common theme these facilitators are proud to promote. It also however states "a training does not have to be PELSB approved to fulfill the cultural competency renewal requirement." It also does not layout further requirements within the district such as additional professional development focusing on race.
Officially the district does not endorse or teach CRT, however my document request in May of 2021 reveled many concerning components of CRT and its tenants such as "suggested" readings of Ibram Kendi and Robin DeAngelo, etc. as well as the use of an educational equity firm who billed themselves as experts of "racial equity, anti-racism, social justice."
Our families send their children to school for education, not indoctrination. The Big Lake School Board must be aware of concerns and create thoughtful policy that focuses on high academic achievement, parental rights and transparency.
Even if we don't agree, I want to hear your concern. More can be gained from respectful dialogue than an angry Facebook post. I may not change my mind, but I will absolutely listen to your concern, and factor it into my decision making.
I care about the many issues affecting our students, about transparency and having a district that encourages parents to know what their children are learning. As a member of the board, I will focus on high academic achievement, parental rights, transparency and accountability to make thoughtful policy decisions ensuring the best education and environment possible for Big Lake Students.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve our community!
Prepared and Paid for by Ashley Schabilion - P.O. Box 172, Big Lake, MN 55309
Copyright © 2022 Ashley For Big Lake School Board 2022 - All Rights Reserved.