2021 Richardson ISD Place 7 Runoff-Candidate Response to GEAR Questions - Amanda Clair
Like many gifted advocacy groups, GEAR has a tradition of offering an opportunity for local school board candidates to communicate his or her positions and views on topics important to our members. GEAR is pleased to share the questionnaire responses received from candidates for the June 5 runoff election for Place 7 on the Richardson ISD Board of Trustees.
GEAR thanks candidates for taking the time to respond, and we wish to express our gratitude to every candidate for their willingness to serve our district, their dedication to public education, and their desire to work on behalf of all students in Richardson ISD. GEAR encourages community members to participate in this election. Early voting begins May 24 and ends June 1. Election Day is June 5.
CANDIDATE AMANDA CLAIR:
QUESTION 1: Texas law requires districts to identify and serve Gifted and Talented (GT) students K-12 and to comply with the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students (updated 2019). The State Plan includes requirements and an "exemplary" column of best practices. How important do you believe it is for RISD to fully comply with state requirements and to achieve “exemplary” status under the State Plan?
Exemplary should always be our goal. I believe the board should work with Dr. Stone and Monica Simmonds of the Advanced Learning Programs department to identify where our district is in terms of the plan outlined by the state to (1) ensure we are meeting all requirements and (2) identify an implementation plan to move our program into exemplary status. That plan should require supports, resources and progress monitoring goals to ensure we are consistently making progress and that our programs and teachers have the resources needed to meet exemplary status.
QUESTION 2: In your opinion, what priority should RISD place on following best practices in educating students with special needs and learning differences, including students receiving GT services, students in poverty with the potential for GT identification, GT students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, highly gifted students, and GT students with disabilities? As a district we have made a promise to all of our students to prepare them for college and a career. In my opinion, that means we are working to ensure they, including our students with special needs and learning differences are able to reach their fullest potential. In doing so, our highest priority is that we are focused on guaranteeing that our teachers, schools and families have the supports, training and materials to provide the high quality education we’ve promised.
QUESTION 3: How important do you feel it is for RISD curricula, instruction, professional development, programs, and services to enable RISD students from all populations and income levels to reach the highest levels of achievement they can reach, including achievement levels above their age-grade? I believe it is one of the top priorities. The goals of RISD are centered around student achievement and I believe in the statement that ALL students can and will achieve. In order to do that, all of our decisions must be focused on listening to experts and our families and identifying what decisions will be made that lead to our schools, communities and teachers being supported to ensure our students are able to reach their highest potential of success.
QUESTION 4: In 2019, House Bill 3 moved the previous G/T Allotment into general funding while further increasing general funding. One argument for changing GT funding was to encourage districts to spend more funds on G/T services. What is your commitment to maintaining or increasing the current level of funding for GT services in RISD? It’s important that with this move the district continues to ensure the necessary funding to ensure the needs of our G/T populations are met. In order to do so, I would recommend and advocate to ensure that we consistently line item out G/T funding to monitor what we are spending. Our focus should not solely be on the amount of dollars being spent but rather focused on ensuring that our support of G/T programing continues to meet the needs of our students and moves to set the bar for an exemplary program within the state.
QUESTION 5: As a Trustee, how open would you be to input from experts in learning diagnoses, including experts on gifted needs, and how do you feel about receiving input and support from groups of RISD parents dedicated to special needs and learning differences, including gifted needs? Absolutely open. I firmly believe we need to listen to experts in education, teachers, students and the families impacted by the decisions as part of the process. I believe as individual trustees we all bring expertise and knowledge to the table but not a single one of us are experts in all. Therefore, we must ensure we are listening from those with different experiences and experts. In addition, we should have clear progress monitoring and
QUESTION 6: Please share any additional comments to clarify your positions on issues impacting RISD’s GT population. We need to be thoughtful and reflect on how we provide student voice throughout the entire process. Our ultimate goal is student success and we MUST ensure they are a key piece of the puzzle in listening and making decisions. When thinking about our process of ALL means ALL, we must continue to focus on barriers that have unintentionally been placed or created that hinder ALL students from having access to G/T services and placement.