Who Should TASHRIA Endorse in the 2022 TUFSD Board of Education Elections?

This week, members of the TASHRIA Steering Committee electronically distributed a questionnaire to the three candidates seeking the two open seats on the TUFSD Board of Education in the election to be held next Tuesday, May 17th. The deadline for completing the questionnaire, which was a blend of multiple choice questions and open-ended options, was at noon on Thursday, May 12th.

Two of the three candidates – Ida Michael and Amanda Wallwin – submitted responses to the questionnaire by the deadline. A third candidate, John Sutherland, did not complete the questionnaire by the deadline. We will add in responses from Mr. Sutherland if and when we receive them.

All TASHRIA members should read the submitted questionnaire responses below and then proceed to vote on which two candidates the organization should endorse. You may access the endorsement vote form here. Endorsing local candidates who reflect the goals and values of our organization is a key part of our charter and mission, so please choose wisely.

We wish all the candidates the best of luck in the coming election.

  1. In what ways can our schools affirm all students, families and educators – and prepare young people for a country that is becoming increasingly diverse? (Please check all that apply and feel free to elaborate with the “Other” option)

    Ida Michael and Amanda Walwin: Support curriculum reform efforts so that students may learn the accurate history of this country

    Ida Michael and Amanda Walwin: Hire teachers and staff that reflect the diversity of the Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow Community

    Ida Michael (added): Diversity in board of education members to reflect the percentage of population in the community

  2. How do you feel about parents standing up and demanding an end to teaching critical race theory and homosexuality in the classroom?

    Ida Michael and Amanda Wallwin: I disagree with them. Critical race theory is not taught in any of our classrooms, but racism and sexuality should be topics of education and discussion

  3. Did you support the decision of the local school board to lift the mask mandate for all students?

    Ida Michael: Yes, i support The mask mandate being lifted. They also said it was up to all families to decide whether or not they wanted to continue wearing masks. And which ever decision was decided would be respected and i fully appreciated that.

    Amanda Wallwin: I think we’ve all learned that masks are an incredibly important tool in fights against infectious disease in our communities. I would want to do more research about case levels at the community and school level when the mandate was lifted to say for sure if it was the right time or too soon. Overall, I think it’s a real shame that we don’t have clearer guidance from federal and state agencies, but in making these decisions, I’d look closely at case levels and severity within the community and schools and work to ensure that we’re protecting the most vulnerable students and families in our community.

  4. During these challenging times for educators and families, what role do you see social emotional learning (SEL) playing in supporting the emotional and academic well-being of students across the district?

    Ida Michael and Amanda Wallwin: SEL should play a crucial role across all of our schools to help support students and families in these challenging times.

  5. Since we live in a community that prides itself on excellence for all, how would you define the term “academic excellence” in just a couple of sentences?

    Ida Michael: Academic excellence is when the teachers goes beyond what is told for them to teach the students. Academic excellence is reading the room and if the kids are not understanding what is being taught then find other ways to be creative to teach a lesson. Not everyone learns the same way.

    Amanda Wallwin: I think academic excellence is when each student develops their intellectual capabilities to the best of their abilities.

  6. (OPTIONAL) In a few sentences, please let us know why you’d like to serve on the TUFSD School Board – and what you hope to accomplish during your prospective tenure.

    Ida Michael: I would like to define the protocols of bullying. The trauma these children have gone through with covid 19 has im sure left them with emotions that they need to learn to develop a vocabulary for. Finding ways to have the children identify their emotions thru play would be a great way to achieve that.

    Amanda Wallwin: I have served as a Chief of Staff in the New York State Assembly for the last ten years, solving constituent problems, drafting legislation and managing a busy district office. She is a Democratic District Leader in Tarrytown and is Board Secretary of Friends of the Warner Library. She has a master’s degree from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs in Public Administration, focusing on education policy. What I would love to do during my term is to make the school board more accessible and transparent to parents and the larger community. I think by keeping a permanent remote option and modifying meeting times to fit into the varying schedules in our community, we can take some big simple steps in that direction. I also think it’s important to make inroads in the communities that are currently underrepresented, particularly the Spanish-speaking and undocumented communities. That will take more work, but I think an important step is to ensure that all events and materials are available in Spanish, as well. Finally, I think the school board should take advantage of its authority under state law to seat a high school student in an ex officio capacity. No one has a clearer perspective on the schools than the students, and I think we ought to be hearing from them.