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: Tamara Shamburger
Office: Hillsborough School Board District 5
Incumbent. Elected to District 5 in 2016. My experience includes creating effective policies, oversight of the Superintendent, and successful advocacy on behalf of students, their families, and staff.
Why should voters vote for you?
I am the only candidate with the right experience. I have successfully held the District 5 School Board seat and I have comprehensive knowledge and experience with the roles and responsibilities of a School Board member. Over the past 4 years I have gained great momentum in positively shifting the results in District 5. I bring to the Board the balanced perspective of an outsider resulting a fresh approach to old ideas.
If elected, what are your top priorities?
The woeful lack of funding is the most pressing issue in the District. Adequate funding will address many of our shortfalls such as transportation, technology, staff pay, programmatic options, etc. As a current and continued School Board member and member the Board’s Legislative committee, through consistent and effective advocacy, I will
continue to encourage our State Legislators to prioritize Public Education by increasing the BSA to more reasonable rate and restoring the local millage rate to its pre-recession levels. Locally, I will continue to hold the Superintendent accountable for the financial health of the District by ensuring that as a non-profit, the Superintendent is diligent in “increasing revenue” by reducing all unnecessary expenses. I will also encourage the Superintendent to seriously vet a property tax referendum to raise revenue for increased and sustained staff pay.
Equity. There must be racial equity, educational equity, pay equity, facility equity…equity in all forms that will serve to eliminate any barriers to academic success of all students and prosperous careers for all staff. In 2016 I was honored to help pass the District’s national award-winning racial equity policy. I will continue this work by creating additional equity policies and through holding the Superintendent accountable for implementing effective procedures.
Academic Achievement is our paramount duty. As a Board we exercised our biggest power in the hiring of a Superintendent with the tenacity to lead and drive strong instructional practices in the District that will lead to measurable academic performance and closure of the achievement gap. As a Board member I will continue to work alongside the Superintendent setting expectations of excellence and holding him to the results until every student has an opportunity to academically succeed.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
- Student achievement - Closing the achievement gap and increasing literacy is my top priority. I believe that every student deserves access to excellent educational opportunities.
- Teachers & staff - I have been a vocal advocate for fair compensation and safe working conditions for staff . I know that teachers are the backbone of the District and will continue to ensure that teachers have the resources they need to succeed.
- Equity -A good education provides every student with the basic skills to prepare them for life. It should prohibit discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin, or socioeconomic status. My passion is in eliminating any obstacle in achieving educational fairness.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
As your School Board member I am passionate about Education as education is a social process; it’s growth. Education is not a preparation for life; it is life itself. I’m passionate about ensuring every student has access to excellent educational opportunities.
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?
COVID and school reopening was/is a public health issue. My unwavering position to keep schools closed was based on sound and scientific medical advice. Ultimately a decision was made to reopen schools which has unfortunately resulted in many positive cases. As a School Board member it is my constitutional duty to ensure the safety of students and staff through sound decision making. My position remains that schools should not have opened until the community transmission rate was within the metrics as advised by the medical experts.
In the role you are seeking, what will you do to address issues of racism and inequality?
We must address and eliminate institutional and systemic racism in our schools, as mandated by the Racial Equity policy, through effective implicit bias training, implementation of more restorative behavior management plans in lieu of longstanding punitive practices, and promote culturally responsive classroom management. As a Board member, I expect the Superintendent to be tenacious in addressing disparities and swift and bold in eliminating them. Disproportionality in student discipline and student achievement amongst Black students is great. Black students are less safe, more restrained, and pushed out of schools and referred to law enforcement more than other demographics. These disparities come not from student behavior itself, but from the way adults in the schools are responding to the student behavior. It is incumbent upon the School Board and Superintendent to eliminate any policy that is discriminatory on its face or that gives way to discriminatory behavior.
What motivates you to run for public office?
Change. I ran for office in 2016 as means of being a part of the change my community needed in breaking generational cycles of hardship. I am a changemaker. I am seeking re-election to continue the work. There is immense joy and fulfillment in seeing growth blossom out of longstanding stagnation.