michelle's answers to questions asked

What would be your top priorities if elected to the board?

My priorities would include:

Advocating for more board/district transparency and communications. It is my belief that the community is struggling to trust the district and the board. I would work to increase opportunities for the board and community members to interact, share information and discuss SCASD initiatives and issues. I’ll make sure important decisions make it to the public for discourse and discussion BEFORE it’s too late.

Maintaining SCASD’s high academic standards. SCASD is a high performing district and one of the main reasons my family relocated here. Part of this is ensuring that we continue daily, in-person schooling for our students with as much safe, in-classroom instruction over tele-learning as possible.

Protecting parental and taxpayer’s rights. I believe in the fundamental right of parents to raise their children and taxpayer rights to know what their taxes are funding. It is my goal to ensure that the board considers and does not interfere with parental or taxpayer rights to make reasonable choices within the school environment.

Endorse a pro-human approach to diversity and equality. Intolerant orthodoxy and ideology that require us to label (and often segregate) ourselves and each other based on immutable characteristics...pits us against one another, and diminishes what it means to be in community. I support policies and programs that promote a common culture based on fairness and understanding, endorse equality for all, and encourage an environment in which we are measured by our character.

Bring balance, fairness, and honesty back to education. My experiences, thoughts, and opinions are different from the current board members. I would represent a fiscally conservative, constitutionalist, socially moderate, grassroots voice on the board.

I promised during the League Of Women Voters Candidate event that I would finish my response to a SCASD Social Studies curriculum question. I was asked what I thought about the new SCASD Social Studies Curriculum that was approved last year.

My immediate answer is that I don’t think it went far enough in teaching the importance of US History and unique governing documents and systems created by our Founding Fathers (FF).

President Ronald Reagan was concerned about whether we were doing a good job teaching our children what it means to be American. He was keen on what he called "informed patriotism." Patriotism that is “well grounded in thoughtfulness and knowledge of our history” and that “America is freedom and freedom is special and rare.” He further stated that American freedom begins with the American memory and if that was not preserved the result would be the deterioration of the American spirit.

Where does preservation begin? At home with parents teaching their children what it means to be an American… and in our schools. It is critical our children study the Constitution and associated documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers; so that they can continue and expand upon all we have achieved under it.

But what if we stop teaching our children the inspiring story of America and its fundamental principles... and only focus on the iniquitous realities of the times? It means our children are not learning about the remarkable revolution for freedom fought by the FF… or how later leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr brought down slavery and segregation.

It means our children would learn that our FF were just slave owners... men unworthy of recognition. The historic achievements of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Douglass and King are ignored as irrelevant and replaced with a destructive narrative that we are an irredeemable nation.

Our great nation will not survive if its citizens are taught to hold their own country in contempt. We should have "difficult conversations" about troubling aspects of our history. Our children should understand the full picture… the good, the bad, and the ugly. That our FF were not perfect men but had a vision of a better future. The system they put in place allowed for the moral progress made by our nation over 250 years to occur. US History should cover our fundamental values as a nation, our greatest achievements, and the long struggles to overcome injustice as well.

Our children will learn the story of a courageous and resolute people. They will learn the stories of amazing men and women of every color and background who together fought, argued and strove to build a better nation.

Interview by Geoff Rushton from statecollege.com airing on CNET

I was interviewed along with all of the SCASD School Board Candidates. You can find my interview and those of the other candidates on cnet1.org or directly using this link: Michelle Young Interview

The interviews will also be aired on the CNET channel on:

Wednesday, May 12th at 9 am

Thursday, May 13th at 7 pm

Friday, May 14th at 9 pm

Sunday, May 16th at 12 am and 11 am

What are your positions on cutting the SCASD budget? Cutting spending? Cutting school real estate taxes?

I do not believe in wasteful spending and unnecessary taxation. I built a Naval career on ensuring that my programs were solvent and that we got the best value of every dollar that we obligated. I have extensive experience in program reductions but I also have extensive experience in growing effective programs. My skillset also lies in the ability to differentiate between requirements and “nice to haves” as well as short term gratification and long term investment. As important, I believe in financial transparency and public input on proposed budget expenditures. Like many people across our nation, I’m not a fan of higher taxes and big government. Part of my platform is building relationships with community members and encouraging more participation in the public board meetings as this is where decisions are made about spending taxpayer money.

What is your position on School Resource Officers (SRO)?

Simply stated, it's my belief that SCASD is a safer, more responsive, and supportive community for all our students and staff with the addition of School Resource Officers (SRO). Along with educators, officers are role models for students by building positive relationships and interactions with students at every opportunity; so that, if an incident should arise where an officer needs to be involved, the interaction is not one that is perceived as hostile or negative.

As a parent of special needs children, it is important that my children build trusted relationships with their teachers and other staff members in order to reach their full potential. Similarly, they need to have regular positive interaction with law enforcement and building a trusting relationship with a specific officer like an SRO helps to make interactions remain positive.

SROs take on multiple roles in addition to campus security all of which are based in student safety and strengthening community ties. It is important to note that SROs are not part of the school disciplinary process related to the school code of conduct and violations of district policies. Their advice is often sought after by school administration in matters that may result in PA Crimes Code violations but the school administration makes the sole decision on school discipline. Information is publicly available on the number of incidents that SROs responded to within SCASD. In 2017-18, there were 38 incidents and one arrest. In 2018-19, there were 22 incidents and zero arrests. In 2019-20, there were 33 incidents with one arrest. Of note, there are well over 3,800 students combined in the four schools with embedded SROs.

To ensure that the SRO relationship remains a positive experience, comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and clearly stated expectations are key. MOUs should clearly document the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the SROs, school officials, students, and parents. It should be our goal as a school community to view the SRO as a contributing member to our school community.

Ultimately, it's important that our community as a whole have an awareness of the roles and responsibilities of SROs and the opportunity to weigh in on it.

What about diversity and inclusion? Especially in regard to the SCASD School Board?

DIVERSITY.....The Merriam and Webster dictionary defines diversity as: the condition of having or being composed of differing elements; VARIETY especially the inclusion of people of different ethnicities, cultures, backgrounds, opinions, etc. in a group or organization.

It is important that we take into account the full definition when we have conversations about diversity in various organizations including our school district. I am Chinese and also of Scottish-Irish heritage. I am a first generation American on my mom's side. My mother is Chinese and a naturalized citizen. After my father retired from the Air Force, I attended high school in a small town in Northern California. However, I spent my formative years being raised in Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan. My Chinese grandparents lived with us. So, I would bring ethnic and cultural diversity to the SCASD school board.

But what is just as important is diversity in background, socio-economic elements, experience and expertise, age, disability, and opinion. What I would also bring to the SCASD board includes:

- Background growing up in a lower middle income family with parents that both worked and at least one parent working two jobs.

- Parent of two special needs children with experience navigating the SCASD special education process and policies.

- Parent of a gifted child with experience navigating the SCASD gifted process and policies

- Active Stay at Home mom on the Ferguson Township Elementary PTO executive board for the last 5 years and SCASD substitute paraprofessional for the last 3 years

- Veteran of our military, retiring after 22 years in the US Navy

- Expertise in working as a team in a VERY large organization

- Background managing large multi-million dollar government projects

- Expertise in leadership and ethics on a large scale

- Management and supervision of significant numbers of employees (over 400)

- Experience succeeding as a woman in a male-dominated work environment

- Global viewpoint from spending a significant part of my life overseas

- Opinions formed after careful consideration of facts and evaluations of objective and subjective assessments from a variety of sources and positions.

It is valuing and respecting diversity in all aspects of life and a balance of differing opinions debated civilly and productively that will bring us success and unity as a SCASD community.