In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Nadia Combs
Office: Hillsborough County Schools, District 1
Hillsborough County Teacher and taught in Japanese public schools for several years. During that time, I received several teacher of the year awards. I was a team leader, department head and district trainer. Also owned and operated after-school tutoring programs in 17 districts in state of Florida for nearly a decade. Currently, Brighton Learning tutoring center owner.
Why should voters vote for you?
I want to make a positive difference in our schools. My 30 years in education as a teacher, educational business owner and parent have given me the experience and qualities needed to be an effective leader on our school board. With all of the challenges that our schools are facing we need a school board member who has the educational and business background needed to make a positive impact in our schools.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
My top priority is to be sure that the governor and legislature do not continue to make cuts to education, especially during a pandemic. We need to reach out to the community and find the thousands of students that are currently not placed in either eLearning or brick and mortar. We need to strengthen our public schools and make them the best choice for parents. Educational cuts need to start at the top, not cutting our teachers and supporting staff.
We need to make sure that safety is a priority for our students, teachers, and staff. I support that parents were able to have a choice when it came to brick-and-mortar and eLearning options. We need to make sure that whatever choice parents made for learning during a pandemic that they receive the best and most effective education possible for their child. That means ensuring that our eLearning students are receiving a quality educational program. We must ensure that students who are quarantined are put immediately into eLearning. I do not think that most voters know that those students that are quarantined are not placed into eLearning. Our amazing teachers are doing the best that they can under the current challenges they are facing. The district needs to make sure that all students, no matter what educational choice they have made, receive a strong and equitable education.
I believe that we need to reduce the amount of testing that our students and teachers are forced to deal with. We need baseline testing, but this year, instead of decreasing testing, student testing is actually increasing. We need to look at the long term social and emotional impact that this can have on our children.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
My key message is that I’m not a politician, and that I am a lifelong educator with teaching and educational business experience, and I want to make a positive impact on our students and in our community.
We need to reevaluate our curriculum and bring a back-to-the-basics approach to learning and ensure our students are prepared for life by promoting a love of learning in our schools. I believe that my background and experience can help facilitate that. We need to start with a strong VPK program and ensure that all of our students have strong foundational skills.
We need to provide students with many options as they graduate high school. We need to expand our dual enrollment, magnet and IB programs. In addition, it is imperative that we introduce technical and vocational programs earlier, so that students realize that there are many options beside just college. In addition, we need to grow our ROTC and military options for our high school graduates. We need to prepare students for life.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
Equitable and effective learning for all students. I believe that parents need many different options for their children. I believe that our public schools are the best schools in Hillsborough County. Not every traditional school will work for each child. We need to make sure that parents receive the transparency and knowledge needed to make the best choice possible for their child so that they are able to receive equitable and effective learning.
As it relates to the role you are seeking, how has that governmental body handled the Covid-19 pandemic? What would you do differently/the same in handling both the public health risk and the economic recovery?
I think our school board created a lot of fear and anxiety in the community by not coming up with a clear decision on reopening. Up until just two days before opening the school board had to have an emergency meeting. I think the board needs to be more effective when communicating with our community. I am concerned that students who are in eLearning may be at an academic disadvantage. In addition, I am concerned that with brick and mortar students that if they are put into quarantine, then they are self-learning instead of being put automatically into eLearning. In addition, if we do cut teachers in already overcrowded classrooms, the safety of our teachers and students will also be in jeopardy with further overcrowding.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
As an individual who was born overseas and raised by a single mom, I know that it is very challenging to break the poverty cycle. Our families now face even bigger challenges with racism and inequality in our county. The way we combat these challenges is by educating our children and our community. We have to start by providing equity for children from the very beginning. That means providing robust equitable learning programs and ensuring our children are energized by the curriculum. We also need to ensure that our curriculum reflects the students we are teaching. I believe that involving our business community and ensuring that we include mentors and partnerships in our most vulnerable schools is imperative.
What motivates you to run for public office?
Making a positive impact on students and in our schools is the only thing that motivates me to run for office. If I am fortunate enough to be elected by the voters, I do not think you will meet another person who will work harder to make a positive difference in our schools. My entire life has been dedicated to making an impact on children and my wish is to serve the students and the community in Hillsborough County.