2022 Voter Guide: April Christina Curley, candidate for Baltimore City Board of Education

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Baltimore City Board of Education

April Christina Curley



Mt. Vernon, Baltimore City

Nonprofit Manager

B.A. in History and Education from McDaniel College, Master of Arts in Teaching, Johns Hopkins University

First time candidate, but I have experience working on campaigns for progressive candidates including President Barack Obama, Otis Rolley, and Elizabeth Warren.

Why are you running for office?

I am running for office because I believe every student in Baltimore City should A. be equipped with quality technical skills to bridge the digital divide B. have efficient and innovative transportation options, and C. have access to increased mental health services in school.

What's the most pressing issue the city's school system faces and how would you address it?

Meeting the academic needs of students is the most pressing issue for BCPSS. Because my background is an amalgamation of skills and experiences gained from working in education and tech (across public, private, and nonprofit), I am keenly aware of the direction that our world is headed in and have a sense of urgency to ensure that our kids and families aren't left behind. I am hoping to tap into my expansive network to rally big tech to have an instrumental role in shaping schools of the future and more importantly, funding the transformation needed to meet the needs of an ever-growing technical workforce. The tech industry is a trillion dollar endeavor and I believe they have an inherent responsibility to be a part of the broader solution to guarantee that every kid is equipped with the necessary skills to choose a lucrative life path for themselves and their community.

What efforts do the city schools need to make to address systemic racism in education and society?

As a city, I believe educational equity is the most important priority because we know that when teachers and kids are valued, the community at-large will reap the benefits for generations to come. While I am fully aware of the competing priorities and how those things factor into the overall success of our kids, I am a firm believer that in order to undo the oppressive structural systems and policies in place, we must first begin with giving our kids a fighting chance to not just survive- but thrive. One of the ways that I will approach creating revolutionary change within BCPSS will be to enlist the collaboration and collective efforts of cross-industry workforce stakeholders to play a more active role in the development of our schools, teachers, and kids.

What, if any, changes would you propose to the school system's discipline policies?

The biggest change I would want to propose to BCPSS discipline policies would be to remove police officers from schools and instead use that budget to increase the presence of social workers and other mental health professionals at each school across the city, on every level. I believe allocating the right resources and support services will help curb the increase in discipline barriers occurring as a result of the pandemic.

Schools are still dealing with the consequences of lost learning and socialization from online-only education. How would you advocate closing the gap?

When thinking about strategies to close the learning-loss and socialization gaps that our students faced as a result of online-learning, I would advocate for emergency funding from local, state, and federal budgets to ensure wrap-around services are provided to every student and teacher in Baltimore. Included in those services would be access to academic support professionals (pulling in community members such as local community college professors) who can step in and support k12 teachers in up-skilling students. I would also push to make sure mental health services are expanded with mental health specialists and practitioners readily available in every school, at every level.

In hindsight, was closing in-person school and moving online the right thing to do in the early months of the pandemic?

The decision to move to online-learning during the start of the pandemic was a decision that I believe prioritized the lives of our kids and teachers. While I know that our kids experienced significant learning loss during that time, I am confident that we can fill in the gaps with a comprehensive wrap-around strategy that leverages the collective power and voices of teachers, school board members, and the surrounding community at-large.

Many of Baltimore's students deal with challenges that affect their behavior in the classroom; how should schools handle disruptive behavior?

In order to best support teachers and students who are still adjusting to the transition back to in-person learning, an increase in mental health services is absolutely imperative. I would work to ensure that budget allocations prioritize the mental and behavioral health of all students, teachers, and families. I would also push for a stronger health and wellness curriculum that would be required in every school, across all levels, with the hope of teaching students how to be better advocates for themselves.

In a recent survey, city schools asked parents for their thoughts regarding year-round school. What is your perspective?

Regarding year-round schooling, I would leverage the data from parents/families, teachers, and students to structure an academic calendar year that meets the needs of as many constituents as possible. Generally, I am a fan of year-round schooling, but with wrap-around support for teachers and other school professionals. I believe creating safe, engaging, and exciting spaces to learn would foster a sentiment of embracing year-round school options for students.

What grade would you give Sonja Santelises on her job performance?

I would give Sonja Santelises a C for her job performance because while I think she's done an amazing job increasing the overall budget for Baltimore City Schools, which is no easy feat- it is of no use if allocation of those funds are not being used creatively or responsibly across the board.

How should the system bring up its test scores?

Test scores are a reflection of multiple factors of what happens in the universe of our teachers and students such as a stable home life, adequate access to healthcare, reliable transportation, community safety, etc. With those components in mind, I believe we need to totally tear down the current systems of student/teacher assessments and reimagine how we structure outcomes-based learning using data from a variety of diverse school systems across the globe who have effectively increased student achievement and teacher happiness, while centering equity and cross-disciplinary learning.

Baltimore Sun Media's voter guide allows candidates to provide their background, policy and platforms on issues, in their own words. Any questions or feedback can be sent to, or read more about the questionnaire process here.