We enthusiastically and unequivocally endorse Alexandra Valladares for School Board At-Large.
Alexandra is exactly the kind of qualified, empathetic, experienced candidate that Durham needs. A Durham Public Schools graduate and now a DPS parent, she is an innovator in STEM education, with publications in environmental justice and health science education. She has spearheaded engagement opportunities with DPS students and families through STEM teaching and mentorship, bilingual storytelling, and offering culturally relevant pedagogical content She served as a PTA Latinx outreach coordinator building a coalition of historically underrepresented community members and organizers. Alexandra convened a Superintendent-Parent Forum Series for Latinx families, served on the Superintendent’s strategic planning committee, and collaborated with public school educators, community leaders and parents to conduct the needs assessment for the first Community School in DPS. She offered mental health resources and support to DPS parents by hosting meetings with medical providers and researchers speaking on ADHD and learning disabilities, as well as supporting work related to ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences). She has hosted talking circles in schools and community centers for families, and for members of the People's Alliance.
Most of all, she is a fierce advocate for all of the students who are marginalized in the DPS school system. She fills in the gaps where our families need them- interpreting, pushing to close the school-to-prison pipeline, leading local action teams. A former McDougald Terrace resident, she has stood by the housing community during recent events. She works across all kinds of differences, including race and class. Importantly, she has earned deep respect from communities who often get ignored by those in power.
Aside from Alexandra’s robust qualifications, we also are excited at the prospect of finally having much-needed Latinx representation on the School Board. Durham has no Latinx principals or school board members. Latinx students comprise over 30% of Durham Public School’s student body. We believe that these students deserve to be served well, and that they will be by Alexandra.
Here is some background why this representation is so critical in this race: According to college and career readiness rankings, white students in DPS rank 3rd in the state for college and career readiness. Black students rank 46th. Latinx students rank 102 out of 115 districts. School boards adopt policies, distribute resources, and create priorities that help foster that success-- and gaps. We don’t think 46th in the state or 102nd is the state is good enough for our children. Durham ranks100th for English Language Learners, 99th for Economically Disadvantaged, and 98th for Homeless Students. This is inexcusable. We want black and Latinx students to be welcomed in our schools and succeed-- and the school board must do more to make sure students are better prepared for college and career after attending DPS schools.
Our school board has had many successes of which to be proud. But we believe this gap is indicative of a critical change that needs to occur. Our Board of Education does not represent the 10,785 Latinx students and their families. We believe we must act with urgency and empathy to address this gross inequity. We believe the answer lies in Alexandra's campaign platform: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Prioritizing Equity and Wellness, and Supporting Marginalized Communities. Please join us in supporting Alexandra Valladares for School Board At-Large!