School boards are not all identical. They represent multiple stakeholders and institutions within the community, such as parents, guardians, students, and educators. They represent nonprofit workers, health care workers, and business leaders. This varied set of perspectives allows for a more comprehensive ability to approach issues and concerns within schools and the community. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is proud to endorse a diverse range of candidates running for K-12 school and college board districts in Maricopa County. This November, it’s our job, every one of us, to ensure that we elect school board members that represent our communities and are working with and for us!
Phoenix Union High School Board
Aaron Marquez is running for Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board to help build strong schools and healthy communities. He is a veteran and father who believes that every child should have equal access and opportunity to the best education no matter their circumstance. He advocates for increased teacher pay and better opportunities to prepare students to succeed in college, career, and life. In addition to his service in the U.S. Army, Marquez served in AmeriCorps for two years where he ran youth service-learning programs for students most at risk of dropping out before graduation. Marquez is a fighter for progressive change and democratic values which can be seen in the key issues he supports including the ballot initiative Prop 208 Invest in Ed(ucation), Phoenix Union’s decision to remove school resource officers, and service learning and ethnic studies. Learn more about Marquez’s stance on these key issues on his website.
Tempe Union High School Board
Berdetta Hodge is the current president of the Tempe Union High School Board. Elected in 2016, Hodge was the first African-American woman elected in the City of Tempe. A longtime member of the Tempe community, Hodge attended several schools in the Tempe Elementary School District and graduated from Tempe Union High School herself. She raised her two sons in the Tempe school districts as well. Hodge advocates for representation and making sure all voices have a seat at the table. She is running the “YOU MATTER” Campaign where she believes students matter, parents/guardians matter, teachers matter, and every community member matters when it comes to quality and successful education. For more on Hodge, visit her website here.
Sarah Lindsay James
Sarah Lindsay James is an educator and mother of two children,running for Tempe Union High School District (TUHSD) governing board. She grew up in Tempe and is a graduate of Tempe High School where she met her husband. James believes every child is important, every child matters and every child should be honored. As an educator, mother and advocate, James aspires to ensure that all children have a positive and affirming educational experience that fully prepares them for the challenges of an ever-changing world. She advocates for empowering educators, equitable and inclusive curriculums, students’ mental health and wellness, funding for education and a safe reopening of schools. You can learn more about James’ stance on these issues on her website.
Armando Montero is also a product and graduate of the TUHSD and running for their governing board. He’s a champion of students’ social and emotional wellness, suicide prevention and student advocacy. In his work, Montero drafted and introduced a resolution that called for the TUHSD board and the state to prioritize mental health and allocate more resources to school counselors. As of now, Montero’s board resolution has passed in more than 12 districts state-wide. He has also worked alongside district officials to create a student advisory committee at every school in the district to ensure that student voices are heard on decisions that affect their everyday lives. The district now has a social/emotional health coordinator position because of this work. In running for governing board, Montero’s priorities include mental health, teacher retention, student representation, transparency and community involvement, school equity, and fully funding public education. Descriptions of Montero’s priorities can be found on his website. He currently works as a Legislative Analyst and Director of ASU Affairs for the Arizona Students' Association.
Scottsdale Unified School Board
Julie Cieniawski is an experienced educator who began her teaching career in 1986. A longtime resident of Scottsdale, Cieniawski taught for Mesa Public Schools for over 12 years and the Scottsdale Unified School District for another 15 years. As a parent of 2 children, a forward-thinking leader, and a proud educator, she supports equality of opportunity and collaborative decision making as shown by her extensive work in the areas of: curriculum development, assessment and grading, teacher evaluation, restorative justice practices, wellness, and school safety. In addition to her educational work, she has worked as school athletic coach, performing arts director, department chair, club sponsor, assistant principal, parent volunteer, and community activist. Cieniawski supports Planned Parenthood Principles and especially the SHARE institute resources which honor age-appropriate, meaningful, medically accurate, and up-to-date support for students. Learn more about Cieniawski’s advocacy for students, families and the community on her website.
Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board- District 1
Jacqueline Smith is a first-time candidate for the Maricopa Community College Governing Board from District 1. As an educator herself, Smith has a passion for education, specifically access to education. She is currently a Professor of Practice in ASU's Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with a focus on university design and higher education and the law. In the past, Smith has served as Associate Vice President working directly for ASU President Michael Crow for over 10 years to design, develop and launch over $60 million in projects related to student success, online learning and workforce development. As a pipeline into four-year universities and other certificate programs, community colleges are at distinct risk from vanishing because states -- particularly Arizona, have not prioritized investing in community colleges. Arizona has been hemorrhaging higher education funding for the last decade to the detriment of the students that depend on and attend public higher education institutions and especially community colleges. Smith is dedicated to ensuring MCCGB has the resources needed to offer community college for free or reduced cost. Learn more about Smith’s motivation to serve on her website.
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