The Editorial Board of The Shakerite endorses Lisa Cremer, Ayesha Bell Hardaway and Heather Weingart for Shaker Heights City Schools District Board of Education.
Lisa Cremer, an active community and Lomond PTO member, exhibits unique characteristics that will make her successful on the board. She became prominent in the community for leading an effort against a district decision to eliminate K-4 science lab visits and the K-4 science coordinator position. In fact, she launched her campaign from the very website she used for the petition and cited that passion as a foundation on which to run. This demonstrates her ability and willingness to challenge the administration when it fails to communicate with parents before making significant decisions about resources, curriculum and instruction.
Cremer’s background illustrates an ability to learn. Her connections with young families and experience with disadvantaged children in the classroom will prove valuable when advocating for students, parents, teachers and community members. Her extensive experience in social justice and mutual connections with teachers will empower her to improve the board’s staff and community relations.
Cremer cited opportunities such as former Editor in Chief Marcia Brown’s (‘15) “Beyond the Desk” program as ways to increase equity in the district. In order to increase community participation, Cremer would create a Student and Parent Advisory Committee for the board, modeled after Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.’s Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee and Principal Jonathan Kuehnle’s Student Leadership Team.
These innovative ideas, combined with her exceptional passion for positive change in the district and connections with the community, will make Cremer valuable to the Board of Education and our schools.
Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a member of the district’s first-ever Equity Task Force, will add unique perspective to the board’s mission to mitigate Shaker’s achievement gap. She demonstrated proficiency in topics of equity, education, teacher management and student resources. With a background in litigation and grassroots activism, Hardaway will capably assess critical issues.
Hardaway’s focus on a paradigmatic shift about how we discuss and alleviate the achievement gap — by no longer “shortcutting” issues, such as pointing solely to a student’s home life as a justification for underachievement, and meeting students where they are to alleviate systemic barriers of achievement at school — may contrast with the views of other board members. However, her ideas will further advance the discussion, which has persisted in Shaker since The Shakerite published district statistics documenting the gap in 1997.
Hardaway’s ideas of mentorship programs with community members and working with state and city government demonstrates that she will bring to the district concrete ideas about helping students achieve. She does not dance around Shaker’s flaws; she sees the district’s problems and offers ideas to reduce them.
Heather Weingart has proven capable of improving the school board with her strong financial background. Weingart ran the 2017 levy campaign, has a business degree and was a member of the Night for the Red and White executive board for five years. One of her primary goals is to to engage the 75% of Shaker’s stakeholders who do not have children in the school district, considering how significantly they contribute to the school’s funding. Weingart said she will quarterly town hall meetings in convenient areas for currently lesser-involved community members, at accessible times for the most number of people.
Weingart’s financial experience will assist the district in its search for alternative funding, which, with shrinking state resources and the board’s decision to reduce levy millage, is imperative. She intends to leverage relationships with local corporations to maximize funding. Weingart also suggested that Shaker invite alumni to fund facilities that would display their names, and idea that would reconnect alumni with their Shaker roots while also providing resources for the schools.
Cremer, Bell Hardaway and Weingart’s diversity of experience and platforms, in conjunction with current board members Bill Clawson and Jeffrey Isaacs, will comprise a Board of Education that will best serve all students, staff and community members in issues that we face.
The election for Shaker Heights City Schools District Board of Education and Shaker Heights City Council, both contested at-large races, will be held Nov. 7. The Shakerite encourages all eligible voters to go to the polls.
Before writing this endorsement, the seven members of the Editorial Board researched and interviewed each candidate. The board met eight times; once after each candidate’s interview, and four times after interviews were complete. The board is led by Chairwoman Emily Montenegro and comprises Print Managing Editor Julia Barragate, Raider Zone Editor DC Benincasa, Opinion Editor Emilie Evans, Editor in Chief Grace Lougheed, Assignment Managing Editor Zachary Nosanchuk and Chief Financial Officer Greyson Turner.