Last week we asked the four candidates who are seeking the Democratic School Board endorsement to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in the caucus on May 19 (tonight) and May 21.
Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento:
Thank you to ARLnow.com for the opportunity to engage Arlington voters on the issues facing Arlington’s schools.
I am running for Arlington County School Board because I believe I am the candidate best equipped to provide a voice for our students who are underserved and for our students who are looking for options after high school that may not include college. I want to ensure our students are not only college ready but career ready. I believe our school system is in a position to make sure every student is able to access a productive path to their dreams on graduation day, whether it includes college or something else.
I have campaigned all over our county this spring talking about issues that are on the minds of parents, students, community members and teachers: increasing access to mental health resources and education by working closely with existing county resources; closing our achievement gap by looking at our students individually and not in wide-ranging categories, so we can deploy our resources in a targeted and effective manner; and how we address our capacity needs with a growing student population and a tight fiscal environment while continually engaging our community earnestly and sincerely.
These issues are incredibly important to our students, parents, teachers and community. We have a great school system and the challenges we face today are born from the success of our schools and the success of Arlington’s smart growth policies. We should meet these challenges head on with the full engagement of our community; however, this requires a leader who understands the perspective of our underserved communities as well as the greater community and understands how to engage all of our community members including community members who are not traditionally engaged. I am that leader.
As a first generation American, I know firsthand how challenging it can be to advocate in our school system. My parents, who both immigrated from Guatemala, worked hard to provide everything they could, but still did not understand how to advocate for us in school. I faced many challenges and finished high school on an untraditional path. I moved to South Arlington and worked full-time in Crystal City at a law firm and worked my way up in my profession to become a legal secretary, while taking night classes at NOVA Community College and starting a family. While I didn’t finish college, I cultivated a trade and worked hard in my career, ultimately achieving success. I re-married and now have a blended family of 5 kids. I became actively involved in our schools 5 years ago, working on issues on curriculum through ACI, the Math Advisory Committee, and the Superintendent’s Master Planning Working Group; capacity issues through the Facilities Study Committee in 2015; and advocacy issues working on the ESOL/HILT Committee among many others which you can read on my website.
As a leader in our community, I want to make sure we are engaging every stakeholder where they live and work by pushing for open office hours which rotate between schools. In ensuring all corners of our community have a voice, we can arrive at the best solutions for everyone.
I hope to earn your vote tonight or Saturday. You can vote tonight at Drew Model School from 7pm to 9pm and on Saturday at Washington-Lee from 11am to 7pm.