Dora Wilson

Age: 49

Family: Husband, 3 children (now young adults living on their own) and foster youth

Occupation: Community Outreach Manager

Previous government experience or community involvement:
• My husband and I have been a licensed therapeutic foster and adoptive parents for the past 16 years.
• Member of the Resource Family Advisory Board as the AK South-Central representative. This board was created by the Office of Children Services (OCS) with the purpose of advocating for foster families.
• Co-founder of AK Hopes & Dreams providing free youth leadership summits to students.
• Worked with the Anchorage School Business Partnership Program for the past 20 years as a board member and advocating for strengthening partnerships between schools and the business community.

Highest level of education: Master’s degree in Business Organizational Management

What is the latest book you’ve read? Or, what book do you recommend and why?: “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race” by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Why are you running?

My life’s passion is advocating for children and our community. I believe all young people should have the opportunity for a good education and successful life. My campaign will be focused on transparent communication, career and life readiness and student equity. I am an advocate for college, vocational technology, skilled trades and apprenticeship, with a unique perspective and experience working with all. I believe education is the key to success and investing in our youth is an investment in our community.

What is the role of the school board as it relates to the school superintendent and the operation of the district?

The mission of the Anchorage School District is to educate all students for success in life. The school board is a governing body that creates policy based on the core values & beliefs, mission, vision and goals of the community. The board votes on curriculum, budget and additional financial related additions or changes. The superintendent is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district and for carrying out the policies and procedures put forth by the school board.

Do you support public money funding education in public schools? (Yes-No) Why?

I believe public money should be used to fund public education. I do not support public money being used to support private schools.

Do you have children in Anchorage public schools now? How did they handle pandemic virtual learning? If they attended in the past, how was that experience?

I am a mom of 3 children (now young adults). My husband and I have been therapeutic foster parents for the past 16 years. I have had kids attend Anchorage schools for the past 20 years and continue to have kids in schools. This past year of online learning has been very difficult for my youth. These youth work best in an environment where they can socialize and interact in an in-person setting. I understand other families have faced additional challenges, such as lack of internet access and technical support.

Can the ASD continue to afford so many different schools of choice? Could these many options be a distraction from the mission of excellence for all students?

I have a great appreciation for the schools of choice offered in ASD. Having options where parents can match a child’s learning style with a schools’ educational administration is a great asset. However, an issue that needs to be addressed is making these programs more equitably accessible to all students. Working to eliminate barriers for students and their families so a more diverse population can access these amazing programs is important.

What ideas do you have to incentivize the best and brightest teachers to come to this district and do great work? What ideas do you have to encourage teacher longevity?

We need to find better ways to encourage people in our Anchorage and larger Alaska community to become teachers. This ensures that future educators will have strong ties to the community and will be accustomed to the challenge of Alaska weather. Improving the teachers’ retirement system will encourage teachers to stay longer, which in turn makes recruitment easier. Educators need to feel more supported, especially after this long, difficult year.

National studies indicate closed schools and/or prolonged online learning has not been successful for all. What ideas do you have to recover this learning loss?

In order to address the learning loss that has occurred in the past year, we must first empower teachers to be successful. The district must ensure that teachers have the support they need to address a potentially more varied group of needs in the classroom in order to strengthen the toolbox that teachers and our community schools have. Aside from learning loss, there also needs to be space created for the reality that our kids have experienced hardship that may impact their learning. Mental health being prioritized will lead to healthier students who are more ready to learn and strive to reach their potential.

How will you reach out to the different community constituencies to hear concerns about their students’ education?

As a Community Outreach Manager, I have the opportunity to partner with schools, programs and community organizations. As a board member I will continue to develop relationships with organizations and community leaders that can provide insight on how best to help all of our students find the path to their success. I believe that it is a school board member’s responsibility to reach out, whether that be through our larger community organizations, through the schools, or to specific individuals who are leaders and elders in our community.

Given the rich diversity of our school district and community, what is the best approach to equitably meet the needs of all students, regardless of socio-economic differences?

Each student has different needs. Looking at individual plans for every student and creating a plan to help them achieve their goals, regardless of their background is a great start. I also believe that you have to “see it to be it.” Exposing youth to different career fields at an earlier age, breaking down stereotypes by encouraging a diverse population of representatives from careers to present to youth and expanding pre-apprenticeship and on the job training opportunities is a great start to getting youth excited about future opportunities.

What ideas do you have to ensure that English Language Learners and students with disabilities have equal learning opportunities in the Anchorage School District?

ELL student and students with disabilities are two very different populations with very different needs. It is important to reach out and engage stakeholders in conversation, asking the tough questions, constantly evaluating those things that have been put in place and collecting and analyzing data in order to make changes and adjustments as needed based on data. Find out what is benefiting students from those populations, and what is not working in order to continue to strive to improve student outcomes.