Nicolet School Board Questionnaire
How do you feel about school districts across the country that have tried to remove books from libraries?
Andrew L Franklin - I find it harmful. Sadly, this censorship is nothing new. In an era where reading scores have been consistently declining, partisan efforts to remove or keep literature and texts from our schools’ bookshelves have increased. Recent efforts in some states – such as sanitizing the role slavery played in our nation’s founding or seeking to criminalize books on gender identity – are alarming. I’ve had conversations with teachers and librarians about how important it is to educate students and engage them by providing access to literature that is relevant to their lives. We should be doing more to engage young readers, not hinder them.
The ignorant decision to remove the graphic novel Maus from a Tennessee school district was particularly personal, as I am Jewish and my wife’s family lost members to the Holocaust. That’s why, in response to the McMinn County School Board’s decision, we promptly purchased a copy of Maus for our daughter.
Although the removal of books is what usually gets attention, the failure to acquire books is equally important. Decisions on what to acquire or what not to acquire often evade the scrutiny of the public.
Sanitizing reality may appease those uncomfortable in a world that has transformed around them, but it also robs marginalized groups of their voices and erases history, however inconvenient that history may be. The freedom to read should be valued. I believe schools should maintain vibrant policies on both book removal and book acquisition; employ certified, experienced, and professional librarians; and be skeptical of and strongly scrutinize any effort to remove a book.
Delicia Randle-Izard, MD - In general, evaluating books should be considered from the historical context in which the subject matter was written. A great teacher or librarian should facilitate each student’s understanding of the narrative through examining and discussing the “Who, What, When, Where, and Why”. Of course, there may be rare exceptions where it’s difficult to ascertain the importance or relevance of having a particular piece of work in our school system; however, I believe banning literature should be a limited exercise of authority.
Before considering banning a book, differing viewpoints should be debated, allowing critical analysis of the subject’s value-added. In the end, all literature should expand the perspective of the reader in order to be educated and informed about the subject, the environment and/or the history of one’s condition. Freedom of speech should never be taken for granted, even if, in the end, we disagree.
Under what conditions do you think you would recommend, if ever, a return to virtual schooling or mask mandates?
Andrew L Franklin - I would be very reluctant to reinstate virtual schooling in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19, but in such a case, mandating masking should remain a viable option as one of several mitigation strategies.
As a parent and as the President of the Glendale-River Hills School District, I follow science and will continue to do so.
Physical health was necessarily prioritized early in the pandemic, but over time physical health needed to be balanced against the growing social and emotional well-being and academic needs of students.
After a two-year disruption of education due to COVID-19, most people wouldn’t want to consider the possibility of a return to virtual schooling. Fortunately, schools have shown they can keep children safe in person with effective mitigation strategies in place. So, if this pandemic worsened, I would resist a return to virtual education. As I have noted, if numbers spike again, mandatory masking and other precautions should be reconsidered.
Most importantly, I encourage all eligible people to be vaccinated and boosted. Vaccination has been the most powerful tool available to reduce or eliminate illness.
At this point in this pandemic, I am optimistic. The CDC has recently presented new guidelines in response to the drop in cases. Nicolet, Glendale-River Hills, and Maple Dale-Indian Hill have all approved plans adopting mask-optional approaches that maintain the flexibility to re-impose masking if necessary. Fox Point-Bayside will likely follow suit shortly. I support these policies. They reflect a growing consensus that it is time to start planning a transition out of the pandemic.
Delicia Randle-Izard, MD - Nicolet follows the CDC recommendations as a guideline. If the community experienced an increase in positive cases of 100 cases /100K and there is demonstration of statistically significant poor health outcomes for children, then I would consider reinstituting virtual schooling and or a mask mandate. This decision would require the data to support these restrictions as effective in reducing harm. I believe students need to safely stay in school because it provides academic support as well as social emotional connectedness. The mental toll on children and families need to be prioritized along with their physical health.
What in your background or experience makes you a good choice for the school board?
Andrew L Franklin - First, please review my campaign webpage, www.AndyforNicolet.com, and my Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/AndyforNicolet, for more information and regular updates.
I’d like to highlight the following:
My Commitment to Public Education. I am the product of public education. I graduated from Fox Point-Bayside and Nicolet. My children attend Glendale-River Hills and Nicolet. Public education is so important that candidates for school board should demonstrate their commitment to public education personally, from kindergarten to high school.
My Community Ties. I am rooted in the North Shore. I grew up in Fox Point and now reside in Glendale with my family. I have volunteered for numerous civic activities within our schools and for the community at large. I know this community, but more importantly, this community knows me.
My Experience. I have served on Glendale-River Hills for 13 years, and as President for five. During my time, public schools have faced dire challenges, such as Act 10 and COVID-19. When Glendale’s superintendent retired during the pandemic, I retained our interim superintendent and spearheaded the national search for our permanent superintendent. When the State sought to place a juvenile detention facility two blocks from Glen Hills, I fought alongside bipartisan leaders to stop the plan. I have demonstrated I’m not afraid to stand up to administration or question authority when necessary. As President of Glendale-River Hills, I established relationships and regular communication with the presidents of Fox Point-Bayside and Maple-Dale Indian Hill.
Glendale-River Hills has roughly the same student population as Nicolet, and a comparable budget. Glendale-River Hills is also the most diverse district of the Nicolet feeders, with all the rewards and challenges that such diversity brings. My experience equips me well for the challenges that lie ahead at Nicolet.
Delicia Randle-Izard, MD - Prior to my school board incumbency, my unique experiences included providing health care for underserved populations, homeschooling K-8th grade, GED tutoring, as well as creating and running a workforce readiness program that empowers students through collaborating with key stakeholders. As a parent of three Nicolet graduates, I was actively involved in ensuring parents from diverse backgrounds were informed regarding school policies and the various programs available for each student's success. I was invited to participate as a parent representative during administrative hiring interviews, Nicolet UHS strategic planning, and course curriculum reviews. I had the opportunity to apply for a vacated seat on the Nicolet Union High School Board in July 2021, and I was selected from five competing candidates.
I am a good choice because I have held leadership positions and understand the importance of servant leadership. In my leadership positions I prioritize diverse voices, active listening, and building cohesion. You can learn more about me at delicia4nicolet.com.
Are there any curriculum or diversity/equity issues that you think the current Board members are not addressing? If so, what would you do differently?
Andrew L Franklin - Equity is at once both a goal and a process. Any district can always do more, and the issue of equity can arise in many contexts.
I believe the Nicolet District Mission, Vision and Goals comprise an earnest statement of guiding principles but could be strengthened by addressing racial and gender equity more specifically. Administration must also ensure that this philosophy is carried through to all aspects of district performance – academics, staffing, and operations.
For example, the upcoming referendum offers a unique opportunity to ensure, if it passes, that women-, veteran- and minority-owned firms are given an opportunity to bid and perform on the $77.4 million renovation.
Also, I would suggest the school district pursue minority recruitment, as Glendale-River Hills has successfully done, particularly in social services and guidance. Nicolet’s staff should reflect the makeup of the community.
Lastly, I encourage the district to perform periodic, independent reviews of disciplinary policies and practices to prevent or address disparate treatment.
Delicia Randle-Izard, MD - I would like to assist the school in identifying opportunities for disenfranchised students to gain greater access to resources at Nicolet. I am also interested in ensuring all students gain exposure to academic and career building opportunities.
Nicolet has many resources for families to address the academic and social-emotional learning needs of our students, but the data shows the utilization is not equally accessed. We need to learn more about the potential barriers influencing students who could benefit but have yet to participate or ask for assistance. Nicolet has progressed to be more inclusive when investigating the causes of some of these disparities, but we have further to go. There must be an intentionality to include students, parents/guardians, and staff when examining and interpreting the data.
I will work to build on the Nicolet culture of questioning, reflection, and responsiveness. Education is a cooperative lifelong journey with adjustments. Is this not what we want all our students to learn, so they appreciate the journey and not just the goal?