What experience and qualifications do you bring to your candidacy for Eden Prairie School Board?
I hold a Bachelor’s in psychology and did my Master’s work in Education and Special Education.
I bring my experience as a classroom teacher and early childhood education program lead, a civic association member, and my passion for excellence in public education to the role. Having taught in one of the largest school districts in our Nation, I believe that I can bring additional perspective to the board.
Eden Prairie School Board Candidate Francesca Pagan-Umar has lived in Eden Prairie for three years.
What personal values and qualities do you believe are especially important for a school board candidate?
I believe in research and data-based decision making first and foremost. We must act with integrity and in the best interest for all students and teachers.
I want to serve on the board because I want to shape policy for our schools as the backbone of our amazing community. I am not interested in a political career nor do I see this role as a political one.
Why should Eden Prairie voters choose you for the School Board rather than other candidates who are running for the Eden Prairie School Board?
I am an experienced educator who uses fact-based research in making decisions that balance the needs of teachers, students and caregivers. Other candidates are more political than me and have publicly expressed racist and Islamophobic ideas.
These personal opinions do not hold a place on our school board, especially in a district where we are proud of our diverse student body that makes up more than 40% of our learners (https://nces.ed.gov/Programs/Edge/ACSDashboard/2714220).
What do you believe are the key factors in the Eden Prairie Schools’ management of COVID-19, and why?
It is critical we defer to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health on how to reduce the risk of students and staff spreading and contracting the virus in our schools, and reduce the rate of community spread, so we can fully open our schools as quickly as possible.
Our district tried to balance this with the learning needs of students and families, by providing in person instruction for our youngest learners, hybrid for 2-12 grades, and EP online for those wanting a fully remote experience. Which gives room to flex in either direction as the situation evolves. But, they didn’t get the appropriate input from our teachers, which led to push backs, a last minute change in the start date, and created confusion for everyone.
The Covid-19 pandemic has amplified how vital it is to include teachers in decision making. I’m committed to listening to all caregivers, teachers and students, and providing more transparency into board decisions. I believe that we need to follow principle-based decision making and ensure that our community knows not only what decisions are being made but how we make them.
What are your top three priorities for Eden Prairie Schools, and why?
1.Closing the achievement gap. We have one of the worst achievement gaps in the state and it has not improved over the last decade. Research clearly shows that when lower performing students are given what they need to improve, the achievement level of all students increases.
2) Providing more open communication and transparency into decision making, policies, and procedures. Providing more frequent, in depth, and accessible communication to increase our community trust in our school board and prevent rumors and misinformation.
3. Appropriate Covid-19 response. The education of our students and well being of our entire community is at stake. We must continue to monitor developments, make principle-based decisions, and communicate openly with our community.
Is your candidacy informed by a political perspective? How does that perspective inform your priorities? (Alternatively: If your candidacy is not informed by a political perspective, why not?)
School board members do not serve as political candidates. If they see themselves as such, than it may be because they are invested in a longer-term political career, and not ensuring an excellent public education for every student.
My views and positions are well-researched, fact-based, and progressive in nature, but I do not intend to bring my political views to the school board.
What will it mean to you, personally, if you are elected to the Eden Prairie School Board?
It would mean that the city of Eden Prairie has elected an experienced teacher who wants the best for all students, and our first Muslim American school board member to represent our vibrant and diverse community.
I will bring my experience and passion to make fact-based decisions, and support policies that prepare students with the knowledge and tools they need to lead meaningful and productive lives as community members today and in the future.
How can interested voters learn more about your candidacy (website, public phone/email etc…)?