Arlington, VA

Last week, we invited the three candidates seeking a seat on the Arlington School Board to write a post about why our readers should vote for them in the Nov. 3 general election.

Here is the unedited response from Cristina Diaz-Torres:

Hello, Arlingtonians! I’m Cristina Diaz-Torres, a former teacher and education policy specialist running as one of your two Democratically endorsed candidates for Arlington School Board because I believe all students have a right to succeed — no matter their background, race, ability, family context, language, or legal status.

I began my career as a high school math teacher. Being a teacher was the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. It was also the most challenging. My district faced severe systemic barriers to student success. On my first day of school, I walked into my classroom and saw 54 students but only 48 desks. My students were there to learn math, while our leaders across the state, county, and school district were failing at basic arithmetic. I used my time in the classroom to work with parents, community members, and colleagues to overcome these systemic barriers and improve outcomes for my students.

This is why I’m running for Arlington School Board. I know firsthand that student outcomes improve when all stakeholders have a seat at the table–and I’m running to bring an educator’s voice to the decision-making process.

Since leaving the classroom, I have worked to create more equitable and efficient systems at all levels of government. As an Education Policy Specialist, I work with states, districts, and education organizations across the country to create evidence-based systems that meet the needs of all students, no matter the circumstances. Over the last few years, this work has included helping educators from my home island of Puerto Rico get back to school in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria; conducting landscape scans to support social and emotional learning across the state of Delaware, and, most recently, helping states rethink education in the context of COVID-19.  

The ongoing pandemic has unearthed systemic challenges that have long plagued APS–and leaves our community wading through uncharted territory without a specific roadmap to guide us to better outcomes. We must interpret this crisis as a call to action! Now is the time to build a collaborative framework for governing education that gives voice and power to all community stakeholders so that we can adapt and build back a better, more equitable Arlington Public Schools. We’ll do this by focusing on:

  • Equity: We must make every decision based on this promise: all students have a right to succeed no matter their race, gender, background, learning or physical ability, family situation, legal status, or zip code. Our budgets must afford educators the resources necessary to prepare students to thrive in college, career, and life.
  • Improved & Transparent Data: We must improve how APS collects, analyzes, and shares data–ensuring the process is more transparent, provide action-ready insights, and is accessible to all stakeholders. APS must dismantle data silos by connecting the dots that show inequities and inefficiencies wherever they are.
  • Supporting our Educators: We must support teacher-driven, evidence-based professional development, and advocate for competitive compensation that allows our staff to live in the community where they work. Interest-Based Bargaining can empower education professionals to advance the needs of all students in every Arlington classroom.

If elected to the Arlington School Board, I will rely on these core principles and work with all of you to develop a more community-appropriate, equitable, and adaptable public school system. To read more about my vision for APS, visit my website www.cristinaforarlington.com or follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I am asking you to vote for me and my other Democratically-endorsed colleague, David Priddy, on November 3rd.

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