Anna Geoffroy is a candidate for Ward 2 School Committee.
These are her answers to a questionnaire that Malden Votes sent to every candidate. They have not been edited or abridged, only formatted for readability. With the exception of the last question (see note below), the PDF version of this form is here.
What motivates you to run for school committee?
I am a public school mom of nine years who has had to navigate special education meetings, conflicts between my children and others, transferring schools in district, and transportation. Now that my kids are a little older, I want to spend my time helping other parents going through these challenges and others. I believe working together we can meet the needs of every child and family in our city, but it will absolutely take a village.
What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve on the school committee?
In my ten years as an activist, I have facilitated difficult discussions, connected groups and built coalitions, lobbied for change, and supported people in the process of tough transitions. As a parent, I can understand the issues other parents face and be a strong voice for our children.
In the past two years, what School Committee actions did you support or oppose, and why?
Eliminating transportation was a huge blow to the community, and something we don’t talk about enough. Shifting the cost to parents and increasing traffic congestion are steps backward when it comes to quality of life in the city and equity for our students. I understand the pressure school committee was under in trying to balance the budget, but this was a major decision. Looking forward, we have further issues of equity to resolve in light of the neighborhood school model replacing our older specialized k-8 model.
What are the greatest strengths and challenges of our current school system?
Our teachers, parents, and students are our greatest strengths, no question. The single greatest challenge facing the district is funding. All other positive and negative things anyone can say about the Malden Public Schools boil down to those two realities. Finding ways for our community to support the needs of our students while we pressure the state house to pay in its fair share will be my focus for the next two years.
What initiatives would you prioritize in our school system?
Improving recess conditions across our k-8 schools will have an immediate positive effect for our students and staff, and can be accomplished quickly. Establishing after school social clubs for 7-8 grade students around issues such as LGBTQ+ support and other marginalized communities will help our middle schoolers feel heard and accepted. Implementing the suggestions put forward by MaldenCORE will do a great deal to improve racial equity in our district, and help all our students succeed.
Malden has a broad diversity of students. How would you address the unique needs of various student populations? Be specific.
MaldenCORE’s demands lay out a clear path toward helping our non-white students see themselves represented in positions of authority and improve their outcomes. Forming an LGBTQ group for middle school children is long overdue.
What role should charter schools have in our public school system?
Charters have failed to live up to their promise as incubators of new ideas for teaching that share their results with public schools. They siphon resources and select for students who test well. These major issues cannot be ignored when we talk about charters. As it stands, they just hurt district schools. A much larger conversation needs to be had about how we get charters to live up to their promise, or how we phase them out.
What is your stance on the PROMISE Act?
I am a strong supporter of the PROMISE Act, and have volunteered my time lobbying, phone banking, and attending the Fund Our Future rally.
How can we increase parental and community engagement in school committee meetings?
Child care! Live-streaming meetings to social media can also help.
Everyone grows up holding personal biases. Please share an anecdote about a time that your own biases were confronted, and how you responded.
[Editor’s note: Anna Geoffroy had a technical issue and needed to submit this separately. Because it was sent separately and I do not have the ability to alter candidates’ forms, it does not appear in the PDF.]
A few years back a friend brought a new person to our weekly dinners who was transgender. He was still living with his parents, who did not recognize his identity, and was not allowed access to hormones or other treatment to help his gender presentation match his identity. He did his best with what he had available, and he was a great kid with huge ambitions and a really sharp wit.
And I kept calling him she.
I didn’t mean to, it just kept coming out. And I would fall all over myself apologizing. He would take it all in stride and I would thank him for being so accommodating, and I would make excuses. He looked like a female friend I grew up with, after all. But weeks went by and nothing changed, and I just felt worse and worse. I’m a good person, I would insist to myself. I’ll get it right eventually.
That belief, that just passively being a good person would save me from my bad habits, that was the thing I needed to overcome.I can’t tell you the exact moment that I realized it, but I can remember finally sitting there and practicing in my head using the correct male pronouns for my friend. “He is an expert in these things,” “he is coming over for dinner tomorrow,” “he told me this funny story.” It was work, and it was work that needed doing. I am forever grateful to him for having the patience to deal with my nonsense until that switch flipped, grateful that he was the one who took that emotional toll rather than some of the other trans people I have met later in my life. He was and is a strong and amazing person.Believing that “just being a good person is enough” is the kind of trap that leads to the worst behavior in people. We are none of us above failures, and waving our virtues in the face of them doesn’t change the harm we cause or our obligation to get better. I have tried in the years since to be more humble, to listen more, to own my failings, to try and do better, rather than assuming I am better. It’s all any of us can do.
Click here for more information on Anna Geoffroy
Click here to see all the responses to the Malden Votes questionnaire