Meet Your Candidate: Susan Baskett, Board Of Education

 

Susan Baskett is one of eight candidates and four incumbents running for the Ann Arbor Board of Education. There are four seats to fill for four-year terms beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The general election is Nov. 6. Baskett recently answered WLAA’s candidate profile: 

NAME: Susan Baskett
AGE: 58
BACKGROUND: My mother is an immigrant of the Philippines.  We came to Ann Arbor so that she could get a job with a respectable wage and benefits and so that I (and later my brothers) could receive a good quality education.
I am very familiar with children struggling to receive the best education possible in the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS).  Initially unknown to us, my brother and I were impacted by poverty.  My first brother and I received special education benefits due to our speech impediments. Later, my son’s teachers struggled to teach him to read.  Additionally, my foster child, living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, received the best education he ever had.
After graduating from Pioneer High with significant AP credits, I went on to study at the University of Michigan and later Duke University.
FAMILY: I am in committed relationship with a wonderful man who helped raise my son and brought me two additional sons and 4 awesome grandchildren.  All are graduates of AAPS.
OCCUPATION:  I am actively seeking a career change.  Most recently, I have served as a political consultant, teaching others how to run for elected office.  In the past, I have served as an automotive marketer and advertising executive.  I am also a former entrepreneur specializing in caring for children with special needs.
BOE EXPERIENCE: 15 years
OTHER GOVERNMENT/POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: I have been a community activist since I was a child.  I was 10 years old when I led my first political petition drive to get a 5th grade basketball program for girls (before Title IX) at Bach Elementary School. We prevailed.  Later, the principal selected me to serve on her advisory committee on a student drug-use prevention program. For the past 30 years, I have worked extensively with our local elected officials.

  • As a new homeowner (and mother of a toddler), I led a small group of neighbors in demanding that the City address loud and fast traffic throughout our modest community. We prevailed in getting 20 stop signs installed throughout the neighborhood and receiving increased traffic patrols.
  • I served on Mayor Sheldon’s Homeless Shelter Taskforce, the precursor to the Delonis Shelter.
  • I was the consumer member of the Community Action Agency’s Community Advisory Board
  • I was appointed by Mayor Taylor to serve on the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority Board of Directors
  • I have also been an elected precinct delegate for multiple terms

As an incumbent, what are you most proud of during your term on the BOE?
There are many things that I am proud of in serving the children of our district.  I will highlight two of the most recent things:

  • The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program-we are the first district in Michigan to have the full IB curriculum, including the Career-related option. I personally visited other districts to see how ALL students can benefit from the IB curriculum.  This is a great addition to our smorgasbord of academic choices in AAPS.
  • Secondly, I am proud that we have reduced student suspensions by 48% over the last 7 years. This is the result of my focused efforts: making the community and administration aware of the issue, monitoring the statistics, providing professional development to ALL employees, offering options like Restorative Justice, schools implementing culture changes and removing full-time police officers from our schools.

Why are you running again for the Board of Education?
I am running again because I want to continue to lead the path to academic success for ALL students and because I am the most qualified candidate to lead.

  • I have the relevant training (I have earned the MASB Diamond Award) and 15 years of experience in working on achievement for ALL students. I do my research, ask the tough questions and I make the difficult decisions.
  • I have a positive reputation among a broad spectrum of community leaders on getting things done in a respectful and effective manner such as creating the Southeast Area (Nike) Park.
  • Very importantly, I can carry out the FULL responsibilities of an elected Board member. I bring no inherent conflict of interests that will require me to recuse myself from key decisions.

What are some of the issues you feel are important at this time?

  • The consistent (but narrowing) disparity in student achievement among our students
  • Lack of adequate state funding with unlimited unfunded mandates by legislators
  • Combating lies about the good work being done in our school district
  • Engaging the community to become true partners in addressing student achievement.

The No. 1 issue in most people’s mind is student safety. Are the schools doing enough in this area and is there anything more that can be done?

Knowledge and technological advances will make it so that it will never be enough to keep our students completely.  There will always been ‘one more thing’ we can do.  I have always worked so that ALL of our students feel respected, protected and empowered.

In addition to doing what was already legally required (background checks, attendance reporting, professional development re: emergency protocols, etc.), I have consistently supported additional safety measures like:

  • Responding to our community and enhancing our policies so that all students, including our LGBTQAAI students, can have safe zones in our schools so that can feel protected and loved.
  • Purchasing new school buses with security cameras and GPS technology
  • Securing school entrances that require video imaging and permission to enter

I also support the proposed purchase and use of bus cards that record the students use of our busses.  Parents will be able to proactively track whether their student boarded a bus and when and where s/he left the bus.

What should voters remember on Nov. 6:

I am proud to say that my leadership has been acknowledged and appreciated by the following organizations:
The UAW (believed to the first time they have endorsed an AAPS BoE candidate)
Huron Valley Area Labor Federation
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 252
Laborers’ Local 499
Democratic Party-12tt Congressional District
Washtenaw County Democratic Party-Black Caucus

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