Q&A: Sakennia Reed seeks election to Richardson ISD board of trustees

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Sakennia Reed is running for the Richardson ISD board of trustees District 4 seat.

Reed is running for the seat recently vacated by former trustee Katie Patterson. Her opponents include Regina Harris, Patricia Price Hicks and Taler Jefferson.

Community Impact Newspaper sent Reed a set of questions about her candidacy. This article is part of ongoing Nov. 5 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. Her answers have been edited for publication style.

Why did you decide to run for this position?

I am a seventh grade English/language arts teacher at The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, where we develop young men into impactful leaders from all walks of life, and one thing I can tell you, without a doubt, is that every single one of our kids are brilliant and filled with greatness. Therefore, when I look at our RISD data and see huge disparities in achievement, especially across lines of race and income, I know that we have a systems problem and not a student problem. I decided to run for Place 4 trustee because I believe failing our children is unacceptable, and I know my neighbors would agree. We know that all of our kids can succeed if given the right tools and support, and I believe that through thoughtful and equitable policy and resourcing decisions, we can better equip our teachers, administrators, families and students to excel in our public school education system. As an experienced black female educator, I’m excited to create policies in partnership with our community that will ensure equity in education and improve student outcomes for all children.

What experience—professional or otherwise—do you have that would prepare you for this position?

I have worked in education for over 10 years, and I know firsthand the barriers that prevent student achievement in our schools. I also know that we have incredibly talented educators and administrators, but policies and budgets are not always aligned for success. I have gone above and beyond in the classroom to better understand how these policies are made. Through the extensive Teach Plus policy fellowship, I have gone to Austin to advocate for policy changes and helped shape the recent statewide school finance legislation. I am also a part of the highly selective Leadership ISD fellowship, a yearlong program focused on how to improve student outcomes from a systems level through policy advocacy and school board governance. I have practice evaluating and crafting policies, setting student goals and working with decision-makers on behalf of students. I have experience in all aspects of policy, from drafting to on-the-ground implementation, and I am ready to be your trustee. 

If elected, what are some specific policies you would advocate in RISD?

I would advocate for policies that close gaps for our most underserved student populations by creating access to opportunities. For example, I would:

– Create a standing Racial Equity Community Council and enact antiracism training for all district employees.
– Increase access to quality, full-day pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.
– Expand student pathways to be ready for college or career.
– Enact policies that bring/keep our highest-performing teachers and principals in our lowest-performing schools. 

Are there any specific areas in the district’s budget that you would consider funding more or funding less?

Budgetary decisions should be driven, in large part, by the student outcome goals set by the board and superintendent. The current board is in the process of setting goals and those, if [approved], would guide much of my budgetary decision-making. With that said, I would also be in favor of policies that would direct additional funding towards our English language learners, special education [students]and African American students.

What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?

I believe that participating in the public school education process can be difficult and intimidating. I want to ensure that everyone feels invited to participate and advocate. My constituents can also expect that I will be making student-centered and not political decisions. I will constantly be asking, “How will this impact kids?”, and more specifically, “How will this impact our African American and Latinx/Hispanic children?” I will tirelessly advocate for excellence for all of our children in RISD. I promise they are safe in my hands. It would be an honor and a privilege to serve the community of District 4 as their school board trustee.

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Olivia Lueckemeyer
Olivia Lueckemeyer graduated in 2013 from Loyola University New Orleans with a degree in journalism. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in October 2016 as reporter for the Southwest Austin edition before her promotion to editor in March 2017. In July 2018 she returned home to the Dallas area and became editor of the Richardson edition.
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