Love for sweet tea, wrap-around porches, and lively conversation was instilled in me as the daughter of Southern parents. Yet, as we were an Air Force family, a love of traveling and varying geographies was instilled in me as well. I appreciated difference and variety, and was curious to see and learn new things in places I’d never experienced before. The tropical feel of Florida and the Philippines, the Germanic influences in the mid-western U.S., and the arid Mojave Desert cultivated my appreciation for the diversity of our world. Still, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina held a special place in my heart, my love for them a foreshadowing of my attendance of the University of North Carolina at Asheville.
Later, I gravitated towards the city and met my husband from Britain while I lived in Brooklyn, New York. We moved to London where I built a career in media and we began our family. We settled in Delaware in 2015 by the time my second son was on the way, and I quickly took to Wilmington's caring and fun community.
I’ve come to gain my knowledge of Delaware through varied interests and events as well as experiences with new friends I met at Tower Hill School, The Pilot School, and Christ Church. I met countless families partaking in communal extracurricular activities. While the quarantine has upended some of our familiar routines, my family and I still feel connected to the overall Delaware community. This is the strength and power of Delaware.
However, there are some problematic patterns in Delaware. Education funding needs to be our priority. We need property reassessment built from the ground up. We need gun laws that will protect everybody. Finally, we need a fair justice system that is not set on criminalizing poverty or marginalized groups. I know from my concentration in biochemistry in college that we need to link policy to facts supported by data from the outset, not merely what will appease the most powerful constituents in a press release. I know from working in the business world that strategic plans, recruitment processes, and clear communication are key components to success.
This feels personal. Education reform feels personal. While I wish I could speak on current issues free of any bias, it would be impossible for me to do so as a mother who was a passionate volunteer within a Delaware public school. Because of my drive to create spaces where equitable education is possible, I am looking to work with legislators in Dover to make this plausible idea a reality. It is my responsibility as a human being to do all that I can to ensure our children’s futures are cultivated responsibly.
I love Delaware and I love the Delaware Way. However, we need to acknowledge, discuss and break down the ways in which it has excluded certain groups of people who have been implicitly deemed dispensable by way of our policies and systems. My primary focus is to figure out how to create a more balanced community by leveraging our combined resources to better serve all Delawareans in a transparent and equitable manner. We must fight to end discriminatory practices within systems that are responsible for the way our communities handle policing, housing, and education.
READ SOME OF THE ISSUES
Why Education? Why Recycling?
The Redding Consortium’s definition for educational equity states: “Educational equity requires safe, secure, and student-focused learning environments where every student is intentionally provided access to the support, resources, and opportunities they need to reach their full academic and social potential, in and out of the classroom.”
Regarding education, my passion, pain, bitterness and anger-all of which are rolled into one-lead me to a place of intensity that if I dwell too long it saps all my energy. However, if I don't share it at all, then I don't feel genuine when I ask for help. Anyone who has seen me at a meeting or spoken with me about education has seen me express some variation of those sentiments. I don't hide it. Because I definitely need help. I need help to understand how we get these changes through and what the larger Democratic plan is, how we will implement the needed changes together in a logical way. I'd rather put my focus into positive, constructive ideas to move equity in education - and that includes our candidate cycle - forward.
After attending all of the 2020 JFC and bond hearings I could before COVID-19 quarantine, the continuous report from government employees was that education was the solution to most of their issues. Wrap-around services were vital and early identification and intervention save an enormous amount of money. A delay in addressing problems requires more highly trained staff, more equipment, and long-term facilities to repair damage.
I volunteered in a Delaware public school and witnessed children being denied the necessary resources to succeed in learning basic skills. No matter how much I tried to intervene to ensure the student would not be left behind, I was met with a lack of urgency to address and solve the issue. As I investigated, I found that educators were open about acknowledging children were falling through the cracks of a flawed system. However, they had no way of preventing it. This was the day I saw how broken the Delaware school system was, and I was heartbroken to see that it was mainly affecting Black and Brown students.
Black Lives Matter, and they especially matter in the education system. Black and brown students deserve equal opportunity to thrive and get the best education from the best educators.
Beatrice “Bebe” Coker, the long-time educational activist, says “We’ve settled for mediocrity, you’re talking about two generations now we’ve lost” and I agree with her. When I met her in person, Ms. Coker informed me that the key was educational engineers. These people are teachers “who use creativity and inspiration to reach every child in the way that uniquely suits them.” However, how can we expect to employ adults with the passion and ability to do this without giving schools the proper funding and resources that they need?
We need to pay attention to the fact that recycling was defunded without commotion at Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC). Defunding is defined here as
‘withdrawing financial support
from, especially as an instrument
of legislative control; prevent from
continuing to receive funds.’
I see the defunding as a case study for what happens when we let bureaucracy win over strategic planning. The recycling budget at DNREC and Recycling Public Advisory Council (RPAC) is now $0.00 with no future budget in sight. The DNREC recycling program manager was not allowed to ask for a new budget until their accounts equaled zero, but once their bank was emptied out and a request was made and promoted up the chain of command, their budget stayed at zero.
We need to support the Universal Recycling laws and goals of 2010 and request a strategy plan for recycling in Delaware from Secretary Garvin as soon as possible. Delaware Solid Waste Authority and Delaware Forestry Association have a ten-year strategy document. DNREC recycling does not. In order to reach the 2020 60% diversion rate from landfills, recycling technology, funding and education is imperative.