Here is the unedited response from Tannia Talento (D), who along with Nancy Van Doren is running unopposed:
Thank you to ARLnow.com for the chance to engage Arlington voters before the election on Tuesday.
I decided to run for Arlington County School Board because I believe that every student, regardless of their circumstances, should have equitable access to a quality education and I have been advocating for this throughout my life. My focus as a member of our school board will be to expand mental health education and resources for all of our students, eliminate the achievement/opportunity gap, and address our capacity needs with transparent and robust community engagement.
We have strong community involvement in our schools. Many of our stakeholders work very hard to make our school system the best it can be, but there are stakeholders in our community who are underrepresented, who should be involved in the process. I will advocate for these communities and bring everyone to the table. As a first-generation American to immigrant parents, I know how hard it can be to get involved in the school system and have a voice if you are an immigrant, a working parent, a minority, or face a language barrier. I will make sure to bring these perspectives to our Board.
Arlington Public Schools is making slow progress to improve our mental health support systems and as a board member, I will ensure that we make mental health a priority in APS’ Whole Child Initiative. According to a recent NPR Ed Series on mental health, 1 in 5 students has symptoms of a mental health disorder in any given year. We need to work harder to address the mental health needs of our students. I will make sure we continue to focus on this issue and to bring awareness and education to our students, parents, and community on how this silent epidemic is affecting Arlington students.
Arlington’s school challenges are community-wide challenges that can only be faced with the support and input of every stakeholder in the county. Our achievement/opportunity gap can be eliminated, but only if we have every stakeholder at the table working towards the common goal of creating an education system that works for every student, not just most students. One of the ways I will address this is to review our data at a granular level to truly understand the reasons for the gap so that we work together to serve our students as individuals and not as statistical blocks. We have the passion, commitment, and resources in our schools and community to make this happen but we cannot serve our students if we do not understand their needs as an individual.
Finally, I plan to address our capacity needs with transparent and robust community engagement. Again, we will have to work together to come up with creative solutions that support the new Virginia Board of Education’s Profile of a Graduate initiative and the new Every Student Succeeds Act. Both of these new measures will affect how we prepare our students to be 21st-century learners and ensure they are college and career ready students that can enter our colleges and workforce prepared and with choices for life-long success.
Since the Democratic Caucus in May, I have continued the work on advancing these goals and advocating for every student. This summer and fall, my focus has been on meeting with numerous parent and community groups on how to share my goals and vision and to learn about their priorities and concerns. I have also been meeting with our existing School Board members and County Board members to ensure that I am informed, prepared and ready to start working on day one if elected.
I look forward to serving this community and working hard to make Arlington, not one of the best school systems in the country, but rather, the best school system in the country. I humbly ask for your vote on November 8th. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my candidacy and my vision for our schools. For more information about me and my campaign, please visit my website at www.tanniatalento.org.