Re-Elect Carolyn Torres for Santa Ana School Board
I have worked in schools for over 15 years, and I understand first-hand the experience of our students, teachers, faculty, and parents.
I am running for re-election to the Santa Ana Unified School District school board because I understand education, I understand Santa Ana, and I love my community. I have worked in schools for over 15 years beginning in afterschool programs, as a mentor, as a tutor, and as a classroom teacher. As a current 8th grade teacher, I know first-hand what students, teachers, staff, and parents experience. This knowledge has been a valuable asset to the district when making key decisions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On the Issues
A Safe Plan to Reopen Schools
Public health and our school community’s safety has been my priority throughout the pandemic. I supported our reopening plan that prioritizes community health and the safety of our students, teachers, support staff, and parents. Our students, staff, and parents all need to feel safe from catching Covid-19 in our schools. None of us expected a pandemic but the district is making every effort to ensure a smooth transition back to school once it is safe to do so.
As a current teacher, my experience is going to be valuable in implementing the most effective ways to return to the classroom. I was one of many teachers who abruptly left their classroom on March 13th due to school closures and one of the few school board members in the country who went directly from the classroom to an emergency board meeting. In the classroom, I will see firsthand what safety measures will work and which ones will not. We all want to return to in-person classes and I want to make sure that when we return it is with the classroom reality and safety in mind.
Investment in Technology and Distance Learning
We have no idea how long the Covid-19 pandemic may last but we can focus on ensuring that all SAUSD students have access to wifi and other technology that is vital to distance learning. I have been vocal about making sure students receive the tools they need in order to learn from home. I have also advocated for teachers and educators to receive the proper training in effective distance learning models. In addition, I feel it is important for the district to develop accountability measures to make sure every student receives regular communication from their teachers.
I am the only board member who has been teaching in public schools throughout the pandemic. I am the only candidate that has spent weeks planning my virtual lesson plans and watching hours of training videos, so that I can provide the best quality education for the 213 students in my classes. I am drawing upon my firsthand knowledge to advocate for what is needed for our students and staff. We have to work together to ensure that our students receive the best possible education despite our circumstances.
Mental Health and School Safety
This pandemic is producing higher levels of anxiety and trauma among our students and this is affecting their ability to learn. I want to find innovative ways to increase funding and develop partnerships for mental health services so our students can succeed during this pandemic and once we return to the classroom.
I believe safety is physical and emotional. Parents need to know that their children will be taken care of in school and that there is clear communication about their children. Students with special needs have to receive the right resources and support to feel safe. LTGBQI students need to be affirmed and supported to feel safe.
In my class, I center socio-emotional learning, personal reflection and actively work to de-stigmatize therapy. This issue is deeply personal to me, as my family struggles with anxiety, depression and drug addiction. In fact, I did not grow up with parents because of these struggles. These experiences help me to empathize with students because I witnessed, firsthand, what a lack of services can do to adults and children. Working in schools, I have had to report suicidal ideation and shift my teaching practices to support students having anxiety during class. Although the district is doing a lot, we can do much more.
I am committed to developing better structures that allow teachers, administrators, parents and agencies to respond to students and communicate amongst each other.
Ensure Local Control and Fiscal Responsibility
SAUSD has a bigger budget than the City of Santa Ana. We have over 48,000 students, 57 schools, and 4,600 employees. We have a lot of needs to balance. I am committed to making sure money is being allocated in the best interest of the students, parents, teachers, and community. This includes making sure schools within our district are accountable to the district. The district has made strides in keeping charter schools accountable. I will continue to keep our public schools fiscally transparent and accountable to Santa Ana Unified School District.
Value College Readiness and Vocational Programs
As a teacher, I deeply appreciate higher education. I believe every student should be graduating with the tools needed to succeed in life after SAUSD. I also believe our students deserve choices and that all types of learning and careers have value. Our students need to have options, whether it be attending a university or learning a trade. All students in SAUSD should have pathways to higher education as well as career training giving them access to well paid careers in vocational fields.