Meet the Candidate: Ashley Simpson Baird for the School Board

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ALEXANDRIA, VA – As voters begin to advance voting for the November 2 general election in Alexandria, one of the races they will decide is the Alexandria School Board.

The school board is made up of three districts, each of which has three board members who serve a three-year term. Members elected in the Nov. 2 election will take office in 2022. Voters will vote for District A, B or C of the Alexandria School Board, according to in which neighborhood do they live. There are five candidates running for three seats in District A, seven candidates for three seats in District B, and three candidates for three seats in District C.

One of the candidates for District B is Ashley Simpson Baird, whose company Merit Research, Policy, and Evaluation provides schools with equity-related solutions. She has three children: a current CSGA student and two future students.

Learn more about Ashley simpson baird and why she is running for District B of the Alexandria School Board in 2021:

Age (on polling day)

41

Position sought (mayor, municipal council, school board, etc.)

Alexandria City Public School Board, District B

Party membership

The school board election in Alexandria is non-partisan.

Family

My husband Andrew and I are from Northern Virginia and we first met at summer camp. We chose to raise our three children — Walker (7), Ames (5) and Hannah (2) —in Alexandria because of the incredible diversity and strong community we found here. As a family, you can often find us biking, swimming and hiking together. Walker is attending George Mason Elementary School and his siblings will join him in 2022 and 2024. Andrew and I will have children at CSGA until 2037, when Hannah finishes high school.

Does anyone in your family work in politics or in government?

No one in my family works for CSGA or the Alexandria City Government.

Education

BA, Pennsylvania State University
MA, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, International Training School
MA, Teaching Spanish, International Training School
Ph.D., Education, University of Virginia

Occupation

I have dedicated my career to improving public education. I am the founder and director of Merit Research, Policy, and Evaluation, which provides equity-focused solutions to schools, districts and education support organizations. The job of a school board member is very similar to what I do every day in my business: advising education leaders, analyzing data to inform decision-making, and creating policy solutions to improve student results.

Previous or current office elected or appointed

I am a candidate for the first time.

Campaign website

https://www.ashleysimpsonbaird.com/

Why are you looking for an elective position?

Running for the school board is something I have always aspired to do. I left teaching 10 years ago to pursue my PhD because I wanted to have a greater impact on public education. I have done this as part of my research, policy and technical assistance work, but it has happened in places outside of Alexandria. Now, I want to use my expertise to impact schools in our community and share the knowledge I’ve gleaned from other school districts facing similar challenges and opportunities.

I bring multiple perspectives to making decisions that would impact our schools. I have been a teacher, administrator, teacher trainer, researcher, PTA member, and parent. I am confident that I have the knowledge and skills to help put CSGA back on the upward trajectory it was on before the pandemic. There are so many wonderful things about the schools in Alexandria, but there are also many things that could be better; CSGA students deserve it.

The most pressing issue facing our (council, district, etc.) is _______, and that’s what I intend to do about it.

CSGA is at an inflection point. The decisions we make now to counter the impacts of the pandemic have the potential to alter the educational trajectories of a generation of students. CSGA needs to make concrete plans and financial investments to ensure that we thwart unfinished learning and provide the necessary social and emotional support to staff and students. In the first case, CSGA needs to strengthen the implementation of its multi-level support systems, support educators in the delivery of accelerated learning, and provide targeted, research-based interventions for students in need. additional support. On this last point, CSGA needs more mental health professionals in schools and new partnerships with community organizations that can provide enveloping supports.

What are the critical differences between you and other candidates for this position?

The voters of Alexandria are fortunate to have so many strong candidates to choose from for this year’s election and I am honored to be among them. I am an education expert with over 20 years of experience in improving public education. I bring multiple perspectives to making decisions that would impact CSGA. I have been a teacher, administrator, teacher trainer, researcher and ACPS parent who will have children in our schools until 2037.

Most of my professional work has taken place outside of CSGA and I bring knowledge of how other school districts facing similar challenges and opportunities have behaved. I am the only candidate from district B with a doctorate. in education and I am the only candidate for the school board who speaks fluent Spanish. This is especially important given that thirty-seven percent of CSGA students identify as Hispanic / Latinx, the largest racial and ethnic group in CSGA. I started learning Spanish in primary school, I improved my fluency during my service in the Peace Corps in Bolivia and one of my master’s degrees in teaching Spanish (the another is teaching English to speakers of other languages).

If you are a challenger, how has the current board or incumbent failed the community (or district or constituency)

There are no incumbents seeking re-election in my district.

How do you think the local authorities reacted to the coronavirus? What if something would you have done differently?

At the onset of the pandemic, ACPS did an incredible job ensuring that all students had access to devices and Wi-Fi, making food accessible to families who needed it, and improving the delivery of learning. virtual from Spring 2020 to Fall 2021. In the 2020-2021 school year, CSGA should have tried to bring back smaller groups of students for in-person learning earlier in the year, especially the very young students, English learners and students with special needs.

In the fall of 2021, I think CSGA was too late in developing a mandate and testing plan for vaccines. Both should have been in place before the start of the school year. The lack of forethought about it has forced more children to quarantine themselves and miss the in-person learning at a time when they have to work on the unfinished learning of the past year and a half. Additionally, I believe CSGA should allow principals to develop school-specific meal plans that aim to mitigate transmission of the virus using outdoor spaces and other areas of the building.

Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.

My campaign platform focuses on the three Rs: rebuilding trust, restoring accountability and re-engaging fairness

This will guide my work as a member of the School Board. We will accomplish these things by strengthening the fundamentals of our school system law, including communications, staffing, health and safety, and education. This is what will help CSGA emerge from the pandemic as a stronger school district.

What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?

With over 20 years of experience in education and as a small business owner, I previously served as Chairman of the Board of the Next Step Public Charter School in Washington, DC. In DC, charter schools are considered local education agencies (i.e. school districts) and their boards approve their budgets, assess the headteacher, develop policies, and advise staff on decisions. programmatic.

The best advice ever shared with me was:

I’m a fan of Brené Brown and I buy into his wisdom that good leaders don’t focus on “being right” but “doing it right”. I always try to do things right.

What would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?

More than ever, our community is attentive to what is happening in the schools of our city. We need to harness this interest to better involve families and community members in our schools and at the same time show them the incredible potential that exists within CSGA.


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