Inspired by her History Teacher, Cindy Winston wants to Encourage Positive Change as a Member of the Tucson Unified School Board

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Tucson Unified School District Candidate Cindy Winston

Since Mrs. Milligan, her high school history teacher, motivated her to pursue a career in education, Cindy Winston has strived to make life better for her students and other school stakeholders. Ms, Winston commented:

“Nancy did not encourage me to be a teacher, in fact she wanted me to go to med school and said so repeatedly.  She of course was pleased I think that I became a teacher, but it would be remiss to say she encouraged me to go into education.”

An instructor with close to 30 years of experience in traditional and charter public schools, Ms. Winston has decided to run for the Tucson Unified School Governing Board.

She is running:

“…to advocate for our heroes (the teachers and education leaders) that write the story that is TUSD (who work from just before sunrise to just after sunset), and to champion for kids who need a Ms. Milligan in their life.”

If elected, Ms. Winston will focus on several vital issues important to the district. These include:

  • Financial Accountability.
  • Improvement to Buildings and Facilities for Students and Teachers
  • Creating Community Partnerships.
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention.

Ms. Winston graciously took the time to discuss her candidacy for the Tucson School Board.

  • What are your qualifications to serve on the board?

 “I am an experienced educator with 28 years of teaching Science. The last of which have been online. I have taught in 4 states, 6 schools, grades K-12, both district and charter systems. So I have not been in just one place my entire career. That gives me a depth and perspective that is greatly needed.  Also, for a period of time I was employed by a Community Mental Health agency in Charlottesville, VA as a prevention specialist in which I facilitated Children of Alcoholic Groups, Grief, Anger Management, and Substance Abuse Awareness classes regarding Tobacco, Alcohol and other drugs.”

  • Please tell us three reasons you are running for the school board.
  • “Paying it Forward-The trajectory of my life could have been very different if it had not been for public education. Therefore, I am giving back what I have been given.”
  • “I am 54 years old. Let’s be real, I am not going to live forever. If I am going to fight for education, why not 89 schools and not just one. Kind of like the finale of a fireworks display, why not go out with a bang.” 
  • “Education is a way to end injustice and poverty. Senator McCain, who I admire greatly often spoke of dedicating yourself to a cause greater than you   This is my cause and has been for a long time.”
  • How would you rate the current school board you are running to stay part of and please explain why?

 “Great question because my rating has certainly changed with this pandemic.  Prior to COVID19, I would say 5 because like many folks I was disappointed with the name-calling and the drama.  Our school board was making the press for the wrong reasons.  Currently, however, I am pleased, proud and inspired by the fact that this district is feeding kids, attempting to teach an entire school population online by providing technology and securing internet access, if the online thing is not working for a student, they have been provided an alternative assignment.  They even coordinated a “virtual graduation”.  On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the highest I would rank them an eight. 

  • In your opinion, what are the three most important education issues schools and all stakeholders in the district face?
  • “A healthy, safe work environment for both students and employees.”
  • “Enrollment.”
  • “Recruitment and Retention of teachers.”
  • What are your views on the implementation of the district reopening in the fall? Or for summer?

“I appreciate the fact that our district sent out surveys to both parents and employees about their thoughts on coming back.  Pleased that a website has been put up and is updated every Friday for folks to get information.

 As I understand it about 10,000 surveys were returned.  By June 2nd a tentative plan was put into place regarding employees.

(Since this interview a response by parents and employees has voiced concerns that even with social distancing and PPE the teacher to student ratio is still too great and there is not enough technology to go around.  In addition, what happens when a teacher or student tests positive?  This was not addressed in the tentative plan set out by the district and because cases are still on the rise in AZ and we are not on the downhill slope of that bell curve August 6th is too early to consider opening schools. )    

  • To what extent should your school district ensure all students have access to high broadband and a laptop/tablet for virtual learning should the fall opening be delayed?

“To my knowledge, the district already provided various forms of technology to the fourth quarter to students that needed them.  As far as broadband I would say that this is not strictly a school district problem to solve, but a community one.  I appreciate Cox Internet for providing low/ to no cost Internet and I would certainly encourage other businesses to do more since they benefit from tax breaks in order to stimulate the economy. It is now their turn to return the favor and make an investment to educate their future workforce.”

 

  • In your opinion, please advise at least one way your school district should make up for any of the lost learning time of this last academic quarter.

 “First off, we need to abandon this notion of “lost learning time”.  Our students have learned and will continue to learn through this difficult time because that is the nature of being human. Mark Twain said, “Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.” Our challenge, our opportunity here is how to take these students and what they have been through and forge them into a hopeful and productive generation. Teachers, good teachers, will do what they have always done and that is take a student where they are at and take them to places, they have only imagined.  The way you do that is you take the time to know the student.  Who they are, what their dreams are, what their fears are, and show them how their lives are part of a greater whole?”

 “As a district and a state, we need to hit the “pause” button on state-mandated testing for at least a year if not two.  Unfortunately, too much funding is attached to delivering these tests and that money would be better spent adjusting to our current situation. “ 

  • Is there anything not covered in the first seven questions that you would like the reader to know

“Obviously, with the recent protests, there has been much said about the presence of SRO’s on our school campuses.  As a former EMT, I recognize the need for law enforcement, but as a teacher, however, the reality for too many of my students of color is that a blue light means harassment, threats, and intimidation on campus and off.  The question is not whether we need law enforcement, we do.  The question is what kind of law enforcement and do they serve and protect all of us?  I am proud of the fact that Alma Hernandez, who has endorsed me for TUSD cosponsored legislation that passed that requires SRO’s to receive de-escalation training as well as mental health training.  https://azjewishpost.com/2019/tucsons-hernandez-wins-de-escalation-training-for-school-cops/

Cindy Winston with Science Students

For more information on Ms. Winston and her candidacy, please click on her webpage here.

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David Gordon
Living in Arizona since his family moved to Tempe from New York in 1982, David Gordon has three degrees from Arizona State University and the University of Phoenix in History, Political Science, and Secondary School Administration. A highly qualified Social Studies instructor and Certified School Principal, Mr. Gordon owned his own charter school, Grand Canyon College Preparatory Academy from 1997-2016. The school served students in grades 6-12 in the East Valley of Maricopa County. Many of the graduates of GCP earned college credit for free while still attending high school, some completing the first year of college before graduating. Among the speakers at the school's graduations were noted figures in Arizona Politics like Harry Mitchell, David Schweikert, Juan Mendes, Andrew Sherwood, and John Huppenthal. Mr. Gordon also participated in the revisions of the Arizona History and Social Studies standards. In January 2017, Mr. Gordon started the political blog Twenty-First Century Progressive Bull Moose. It has a global following and routinely comments on the political events of the day. Mr. Gordon also helps administer the Facebook page Living Blue in Arizona. He is also currently writing a series of Young Adult science fiction novels which incorporate the themes of time travel and its impact on history. Mr. Gordon is very happy to be asked to join the Blog for Arizona team and hopes to spread the progressive word to make Arizona a better place for everyone.

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