Dawn Macklin is a candidate for Ward 4 School Committee.
These are Dawn Macklin’s answers to questions that Malden Votes sent to all candidates. They have not been edited or abridged. Here is the PDF version of these answers.
What motivates you to run for school committee?
I have a vested interest in the success of Malden Public Schools. Our boy, a rising 4th grader, transferred from Salemwood to Ferryway in December 2018 after we expressed concern over bullying and the implementation of his 504 plan. I am a fierce advocate for our boy and I have assisted another family with attending IEP and behavioral meetings at Forestdale. It occurred to me that given our diverse population there may be cultural barriers that make it difficult for some families to speak up or speak out. I am the approachable candidate that will be that voice and provide the assistance in communicating with teachers or administrators in ensuring all of our children are getting the best possible education. I am ALL about equity and inclusion and making things right. I am also determined to include more people of color and varying backgrounds in our classrooms, in the administration and on the school committee.
What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve on the school committee?
As a Senior Property Manager of two high rise buildings in Malden Center with a total of 266 apartments, I have effective multi-cultural communication experience and genuinely LOVE helping others. I have had multiple interactions with MPS faculty and administrators.
In the past two years, what School Committee actions did you support or oppose, and why?
During recently attended meetings I was impressed with the students’ paper straw initiative and the enthusiastic support for a pilot program by the committee. I also support the decision not to admit Pope John students into MPS.
What are the greatest strengths and challenges of our current school system?
Malden Public Schools has a community that cares and supports the school system as well as the families MPS serves. Funding and over-crowding are huge challenges. We must have improved transparency and accountability from the administration and we must also seek out and hire a more diverse workforce to better represent the residents/students of Malden.
What initiatives would you prioritize in our school system?
Equity and inclusion as well as diversity in hiring practices. Improved transparency.
Malden has a broad diversity of students. How would you address the unique needs of various student populations? Be specific.
Social justice is essential. We must teach the faculty to have patience and awareness of different cultures, special needs learners and those students/families whose lifestyle may be unlike their own. Training workshops and co-colleague outreach are some of the ways we can strive for cultural competence. Back when our boy was in kindergarten, he completed an in school assessment for his ASD diagnosis. The school psychologist (no longer with MPS) copied (word for word) and pasted some of the information that was included in his diagnosis from Duke University Medical Center. Later in her report she likened our boy to a monkey. She did so again during the team meeting. This psychologist claimed she had no idea that her comments were racially insensitive and unacceptable to this Black family. It is extremely important that we hire more folks that represent our community.
Do you have any priorities for the school budget? What are they, and why?
Hiring additional teachers to reduce classroom size or add more classrooms. Additional [paraprofessionals] in larger classrooms will also ease the burden of our teachers and better assist the students, especially those on specialized plans. 504/IEP/SPED Team Chairs to reduce the evaluation/wait times. Building improvements, specifically fresh, clean restrooms. Affordable and adequate after school care.
What role should charter schools have in our public school system?
Charter schools must not be to the detriment of our public schools and they should not be held in a higher regard. If there are issues with our public schools, our effort should go to fixing those issues, not creating an alternative. I am a strong supporter of public school education.
What is your stance on the PROMISE Act?
I fully support equitable funding.
How can we increase parental and community engagement in school committee meetings?
I was impressed with the showing of parents with the two summer meetings at the Salemwood School. Parents and this Malden community are genuinely concerned about their children’s education and their time spent at MPS. This was a call to action and I am certain we will see stronger participation at committee meetings going forward. We must continue to reach out to the community through all resources and in various languages to include: notices sent home, email blasts, social media and a parental buddy system whereby other parents encourage neighbors or friends and carpool together to the committee meetings. It is important for the community to feel welcomed and to have a voice at committee meetings.