- NAME: ANNA IBRAHIM
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Why are you running for school board? Having served on the Board for the past 2 1/2 years, I want to continue to be a part of the changes and growth taking place in Ferndale. I view the work we are doing in Equity and Diversity as the most meaningful and important educational reform that our country will ever experience and I think, that despite some missteps and inevitable mistakes that human beings are bound to make, Ferndale is uniquely capable of successfully turning these words into action; in the way we teach our students, interact with one another and make our decisions… and not just words written on a proclamation.
- If you have children, do they attend Ferndale Public Schools? Why or why not?
I have grandchildren who both attend Ferndale Public Schools. Aiken is in 6th grade and Teagan is a junior. They attend FPS because they are residents of Ferndale, their parents support local public education and Ferndale happens to be a good school district with values and characteristics our family believes in and shares.
- What specific experiences have you had that prepare you to serve on the School Board?
I’m currently on the School Board and have held the Trustee position for 2 years and Secretary position since January. Prior to my retirement I was a high school social studies teacher for 14 years in Fraser School District. Before that I was a respiratory therapist for 20 years.
- What do you see as the appropriate role of a School Board Member when they disagree with an action of the Superintendent?
When I first interviewed to fill the vacant position for School Board Trustee a few years ago, I answered this question by saying that I looked forward to “holding the Superintendents feet to the fire”. As an elected official and a representative of the people of Ferndale, I believe it is my responsibility to work with the Superintendent for the benefit of the students in Ferndale. Ultimately, however, if an agreement cannot be reached, the Superintendent who is accountable to the Board must follow Board recommendations.
- How does the district involve citizens in decision making? Please give examples.
Ferndale Schools have instituted a multitude of ways that citizens can take part in and influence decisions made. The success of the Bond passage was due in large part to a citizens group who helped direct and decide how dollars would be allocated. When community input is needed surveys are created and the greatest sampling size possible is obtained. There are PTA/O groups, Parent Boosters for music, sports, robotics, etc, alumni groups. Ferndale Public has close ties with faith-based organizations in all of the communities that make up the district, as well as strong relationships built between city officials and law enforcement.
- Recently the Ferndale School Board passed a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis. How have you supported this/intend to support this? How do you approach a commitment to antiracism in the schools?
The designation of racism as a health care crisis came on the heels of COVID-19 which disproportionately affected Detroit-area black residents by almost 2 to 1, and the murder of George Floyd. Structural inequality and systemic racism must be dismantled and public education should be a vehicle for this to take place.It has been shown that the act of passing a resolution of this nature has a profound effect on a community; but a resolution is only a beginning point. Action begins with self-education and following is an abbreviated list of books I’ve read to begin this- Stamped From the Beginning (Kendi), The New Jim Crow (Alexander), How to Be an Anti-Racist (Kendi), Schools Cannot Do it Alone (Vollmer), What School Could Be (Dintersmith). On-line courses are readily available as well; I recently registered to take a 4-part class called, “Roots Deeper than Whiteness” offered by White Awake and attended two webinars; one addressing the impact of COVID on children of color presented by a Trauma-informed Teaching Association and “How White Women Can Talk with Woman of Color about Race”. Actively seeking involvement from community members of color, utilizing rubrics and other tools available to insure that books and curriculum are representative of all demographic groups in our school district, actively recruiting staff members of traditionally under-represented groups, and spending our dollars in our black and brown-owned businesses are all ways that we can further our commitment to antiracism in Ferndale.
- What are your views on public schools response to the current Covd-19 pandemic? To Ferndale Public Schools’ approach in particular?
I believe that public schools in the United States have been put in an untenable position and have been asked to make decisions that they should have never been expected to make. With that said, I am proud of the decisions that the Board and Administration have made to respond to the COVID pandemic. Our priority has always been focused on student and staff safety and we continue to make decisions through that lens. Absent a thoughtful and cohesive national COVID plan, I trust that we will continue to follow the science and Governor Whittmer’s guidelines.
- What do you see as the biggest concerns for public schools both during and following the Covid-19 pandemic?
COVID-19 has highlighted and amplified the fractures and break points in every aspect of our social structures. Government services, healthcare, childcare, wages, employment, access to internet, transportation, care for senior citizens, criminal justice, racial equality, and education. The next few years will prove to be enormously challenging as we try to provide more than bandaid assistance to a seriously broken country and protect and support our kids while doing it.
- What would you say are the strengths of the district?
Ferndale has a committed and active group of people who care about what happens in the district. We are progressive and diverse and prepare our students for a global world. Our district is small enough that individual attention can be provided to all students, yet big enough and located close enough to Detroit that we benefit from resources that suburban schools may not have access to.
- How would you like to see the district improve?
I recognize that people are impatient for meaningful change. I also appreciate that this pandemic has put significant stress on our community. What I would hope for over the next 8-12 months is for my fellow Ferndalians to recognize that while COVID will stop being central to our existence at some point, it is going to still be with us for a while and we need to exercise patience and kindness with one another. To assume that each of us have the best of intentions when we say or do something. And that we all have the resilience to make it through stronger than we thought we could ever be.