Last week we asked the three Arlington School Board candidates to write a sub-750 word essay on why our readers should vote for them in Tuesday’s election.
Here is the unedited response from Alison Dough:
A couple years ago, I had a serious issue with my son with special needs at his elementary school. It could not be resolved at the school and I did not hesitate to contact my elected school board officials and the superintendent and his staff. Not a soul from the school board responded. At that point, I realized as a parent, I did not have a voice when an issue arose that could not be resolved. The people I had voted for and elected were not my voice on the school board. I can write my congressmen at the state and federal level and receive responses within 3 days – silence was my response from the school board.
I believe the unresponsiveness stemmed from disengagement – members of the school board who even have children – their children have aged out or are aging out of the system. What is their reason to be engaged? Parents with children in the school system should have a voice – they need a voice. I have a vested interest with two elementary school children and one in diapers. I have a vested interest in the here & now of what is happening and what will happen in my children’s future.
My priorities are as follows:
- Inclusion. Arlington needs to catch-up with the rest of the state of Virginia and move towards an across the board inclusion policy. This issue is near and dear to my heart. Studies show students coming out of isolated programs cannot function in normal society and have trouble learning a vocation. Studies show inclusion benefits the special needs children and studies show inclusion benefits the general education students just as much teaching them communication skills, to accept others with special needs as peers, compassion, empathy, and prepares them to be better members of society. Including special needs children up to 80% of the time is a win-win for all involved. I would push for full inclusion (up to 80% of the day) to be implemented over a 2-4 year timeframe basing on best practices of other school systems in Virginia.
- With a county so rich in culture and language – why does Arlington only offer Spanish immersion? Why don’t we offer Mandarin, French, Arabic, Hindi or other languages? Children have so much more ability than adults to learn these languages. We know we have overcrowding in certain areas of Arlington. Why not give parents a reason to want to move schools instead of redistricting them and battling over boundaries? I would send my child across the county in a heartbeat if she could participate in a French immersion program.
- Increased recess. Recess time has disappeared after the “No Child Left Behind Act”. Lack of recess has shown to have a negative impact on classroom behavior, learning, health, and social development. Studies show that when kids and teens get more exercise, they are better focused and also have less anxiety.
- Year-round school. I think we need to take a look at the benefits of year-round school. Year-round school helps to keep the kids and teens engaged. Also, with several working families in Arlington, parents are burdened with the costs of expensive summer camps. I know, as a full-time working mother, I could more easily schedule time off intermittingly throughout the fall, winter, spring and summer than trying to take several weeks back-to-back off in the summer tp spend with my children.
- Parent teacher partnership. Parent involvement is imperative in our children’s education. So many parents don’t know what is going on and they want to know. There needs to be a partnership between parents and teachers and between parents and schools.
Parent involvement is a key to the success of our children. We need to be involved. We need to be running for the school board. This is our board and we need to take ownership of it. I hope that as a fulltime working mother with three young children, I inspire others to seek this office as well. To paraphrase JFK as parents: we should ask not what your school can do for you – ask what you can do for your school.
Give our children, parents with children, and parents with special needs children an engaged and vested voice on the Arlington County School Board. Vote Alison Priscilla Dough for Arlington County School Board.