Interview with 2022 Board Candidate Sharon Archer

On May 17, the J-D community will vote for the 2022-2023 Board of Education representatives. There are three open spots on the Board and four candidates. Sharon Archer, Renee James-Murad, and Lorianne DeForest are campaigning for reelection, and hoping to join the board is Stanley Chen. The RamPage interviewed Dr. Sharon Archer on her platform as a candidate.

How will you, as a Board member, impact the J-D schools and community?

As a Board member, I have a direct impact on how students and staff members are supported in policy and finance. As a policy committee member for the last three years, I have ensured there is equitable language and intent in Board policies as they are created and revised. In addition, I work to be a voice for those who are underrepresented and work to ensure decisions are made through an equity lens.

If elected, what would be the main goal of your agenda during your time as a Board member?

My goal is to remove barriers to success for all stakeholders. As a Board member that looks different depending on the situation. It can mean creating policies that support diversity, approving funding for student programs and events, asking for data that may indicate disproportionality, asking questions about support for teachers, advocating for and funding resources for students and staff, and voting no when an action of the Board is not contributing to the success of all students.

Many areas in the school receive less attention than other areas, both financially and publicly. Do you believe they should all be covered equally? If so, how would you make sure all areas are covered equally?

Affirming all student activities, clubs, and achievements is a critical component to positive school culture. Part of celebrating diversity includes celebrating divergent interests and publically and financially supporting all extra-curricular activities. Some easy ways the Board can contribute to more equitable publicity is attending various events, affirming these events during Red Ram Recognition time at Board meetings, and creating a spot on the J-D Board of Education webpage to feature various student clubs, organizations, events, and extra-curriculars.

Moving forward, how would you plan to make changes to our materials, classrooms, and other areas of the school?

Curricular materials should be research-based, reviewed regularly, and reflect 21st-century learning standards and prepare students to be college- and career-ready. In addition, they should include culturally relevant and responsive materials. Through the Board-approved Capital Project, classrooms have been reimagined to create spaces for student creativity, collaboration, and to include innovative use of technology. Moving forward, I would continue to advocate for more student technology and research-based curriculum in all core subject areas.

What do you believe is the most pressing issue facing the J-D district?

There are two issues that are currently most pressing in the JD community: mental health for students and staff and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Many community members likely want to hear your stance on pertinent issues right now. What is your stance on COVID-19 restrictions being lessened and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

As an educator for 24 years and a school leader throughout the pandemic, I have relied on COVID guidance from the CDC and the Onondaga County Health Department and continue to do so. Jamesville-DeWitt should continue to follow guidance from health experts. I am a vocal supporter of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work being done in the J-D School District. I am proud of being a member of the Board that approved the Strategic Plan that itemizes specific steps that will be taken to become a more affirming and welcoming district for all students, including the creation and approval of an Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity and Curriculum and the creation and approval of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy. While we have laid some groundwork, there is much more work to be done to shift the culture to feel affirming and welcoming for all students.

What do you think of the position of Student Board Representative?

I value the position of the Student Board Representative. Student voice belongs at the Board table. I would like to see this role diversify in terms of grade-level, race, and identity to increase student representation, perhaps by adding a diverse advisory council to the student Board member.

Do you believe administrators should have the final say over material published in the school newspaper, rather than students making the executive decisions? Do you support the revised editorial policy?

I believe, ideally, there should be criteria for an editorial created by a diverse group of staff and students, and a similar committee in place to evaluate any questionable editorial. The decision to publish an editorial should be collective and based on pre-established, transparent criteria.

What are you going to do to make sure students’ voices are heard?

As a Board member, my role is to remove barriers for students at the organizational level and always consider student input in the decision making process.

Whose opinions (students, parents, or school officials) should carry the most weight in establishing school policies? Please rank them in order of value.

I do not believe any one of these stakeholder groups should carry more weight than any other. Rather, as a responsible Board member I make sure I listen to input from each group and consider the impact of my decisions from a student, staff, parent, and school leader lens.  Part of leadership is accepting that at times there are challenging decisions to be made and some stakeholders will not be satisfied. That said, I know we work as a Board to find creative solutions to meet the needs of as many stakeholders as possible.

I’m Isaiah Steinberg, editor in chief of the RamPage. I’ve been a writer since I was a freshman, and I greatly enjoy journalism. I am very excited to be working with the wonderful RamPage staff this year!