Candidate Survey: Tajala Battle-Lockhart for Charles County Board of Education
Associates Degree, Hotel & Restaurant Management
Certified Hospitality Educator/Trainer
Adjunct Instructor – Prince George’s Community College
Career Technical Instructor – Department of Labor/Woodland Job Corps Center
Substitute Teacher – Charles County Public Schools
Why are you running for office?
I am running for Board of Education because I have a daughter in the school system, I am a Certified Hospitality Educator, and Substitute Teacher. I have been in the service industry for 25+ years and I would like to ensure that every student transitions out of high school with a career, military or college. I would like to see all children exposed to all industries available to them, so they can make great career choices for themselves earlier in life instead of waiting until high school. Community is important to me and I want to be an Advocate for Students, Parents, Teachers, and Staff.
Who do you consider your political role model, and why?
Barack Obama is my role model because he has shown me that you can be whatever you set your mind to however in achieving such accomplishments comes with great challenges. He has shown me despite the challenges that come your way you can always remain humble and be true to yourself and your family.
What is your favorite book about politics and policy, and why?
My new favorite book is Grace for President. Grace was concern when she saw all the presidents in a portrait and they were all men. She decided to run for president at her school because she felt she could make a change and she could be the first female president. However, she started questioning her skills and qualities comparing to the other candidates. She doubted herself quite a bit. Grace was a lot like me when I made the decision to run for office however she inspired me that if I show compassion for what I stood for and believed in I can be as successful as she did. Grace became the first female president at her school. Yes, an adult can be inspired by a child just as well as a child can and will be inspired by adults. I want to be that adult to inspire children as a Governing Member of the Charles County Board of Education.
What is your favorite book about education, and why?
The Webster Dictionary because it teaches you the meaning of words and you can learn an old word in a different way. It’s forever growing and introducing new words and meanings that continue to help people grow their vocabulary. It’s always teaching you something new.
What will be your top priority on the Board of Education?
My top priority is to bring structure amongst the Board of Education Members to strategically align ourselves across the county to become more effective to drive strong results locally, state wide, and nationally. We are the leaders of the school systems and I feel this is a must for our schools in Charles County to produce effectively. This will allow Board Members to be more visible to ensure policies are being enforces and all are being held accountable. This will also support the Board Members in becoming more transparent and building back the trust within our community.
What is the biggest issue facing your county schools?
The biggest issue within the county is school overcrowding and teacher shortage.
What are the three biggest issues facing Maryland schools?
The three biggest issues facing Maryland schools if school funding, teacher shortage, and school safety.
Have you read your county schools curriculum? If so, which parts do you like and which parts do you dislike?
As a substitute seen the county curriculum, I don’t have a problem with the curriculum itself however I have a problem that they have taking things out of the curriculum such as spelling at some schools and cursive writing. The children are having great challenges with spelling and understanding cursive writing.
What is your position on school spending?
I believe that all budgets need to be consistently critiquing to ensure its meeting the need of our schools. I believe there always should be a strategic plan in place to ensure that line items are being reviewed to see if items need to be realigned or adjusted. Spending really need to be effectively evaluated by the Board Members and its financial team to ensure that all parties agree and/or can effectively compromise on the needs of the teachers, students, and staff.
Please identify the three areas which you believe should be prioritized when it comes to school funding
School Maintenance, Teacher Benefits, Teacher Pay
What is your position on teacher tenure?
I believe that teacher tenure speaks volumes about the school system and/or about the teacher. If a school system is losing teachers that means that the system is not taking care of their teachers. If a teacher continues to be in school system for many in years it means that they system is doing a great job taking a care of them or she/he is truly passionate about the job they do or it just close to their homes and they don’t want to deal with the travel time to another county. If the school system is hiring teachers and offering incentives and/or certifications, I feel that should be on contractual terms to put the tax payers’ money to good use and this will support growth in the tenure of teachers.
What is your position on standardized testing?
I believe standardized testing could be effective if teachers truly had the time to effectively teach the subjects that are on the test. However, because the teachers struggling with time constraints and overcrowding they are teaching to the test with hopes of getting good score unfortunately now days that is not producing effective results. I believe that is a challenge because the students are not engaged due to challenges at home and some teachers are just not effectively teaching kids because they are upset about pay. I do feel that we can be successful with them or without them. They are many ways to measure students’ success by constant reinforcers of the subjects that are being taught.
What is your position on classroom size?
My position on classroom size is there should be no more than 20 students in a room with a teacher, so they can effectively teach and support every student in the classroom. Anything more than that a teacher should have a Teacher’s Aid. Especially, if it’s an inclusion class with special need students. Every student has a different learning style. All students need to be support by their teachers effectively and that cannot be done in an overcrowded classroom.
Do you believe the Board of Education should have taxation authority?
At this time, I don’t see this being the best solution in the county, however if the public sees it as a viable option I will support it. I believe that supporting the Fix The Fund Act is a great next step with getting the funding that is needed at this time.