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PowerPlayer: Pawtucket School Committee Candidate Sandra Cano

Monday, August 27, 2012


This week’s PowerPlayer is Pawtucket School Committee candidate Sandra Cano. Ms. Cano was kind enough to chat with GoLocalProv about her background and her vision for Pawtucket’s schools.

1) You're running for School Committee in Pawtucket and you graduated from Shea High, which is considered one of the lowest performing schools in the state. What has to be done to turn around Pawtucket schools?

I attended Shea High School until my graduation in 2001 and learned a lot there from really good teachers who cared about the students. That experience helped prepare me for college and graduate school. I understand the challenges facing the Pawtucket School Committee: A $1.5 – 1.7 million deficit, both city high schools facing intervention by RIDE, and a chronic lack of parental involvement. The achievement gap and dropout rate in Pawtucket are of particular concern to me. This calls for increased community buy-in and parental engagement through innovative partnerships that demystify the education system for new immigrants and low income families, making the system more welcoming.

We have to look at every budget item, line by line, to ensure that no money is being misappropriated or wasted. We also need to think outside the box, developing and strengthening partnerships that leverage outside resources.

The board must re-establish effective decision making, informed by good lines of communication. My experience will help frame issues effectively and identify the relevant experts and stakeholders to bring into the process. By acting with the best information considered in a timely manner, the board can develop fiscally responsible, comprehensive, long-term solutions and win back the community's trust.

2) Education reform is a trendy topic these days. What role could more charter schools or alternative teacher certification programs play in the city?

I am going to focus on our public schools and work hard to make sure that every child in the system has access to a high quality education. While I think parents should have the opportunity to decide whether or not they send their child to a charter school, the vast majority of our children attend our public schools and we need to focus all our energy on improving education outcomes there.

Regarding alternative teacher certification, I applaud any person who wishes to enter the field of teaching, regardless of their previous career path. I think we should encourage this while we also make sure that all teachers have the training, skills and resources necessary to meet the needs of our children.

3) Take us through a day in your life.

I wake up around six in the morning and, as I eat breakfast, I read and respond to emails and read and review various news sites. I then go to my job as the Business Community and Development Officer at Navigant Credit Union, where I interact with and inform small business owners on best practices to help grow and succeed. After work I dedicate myself to my campaign by attending events, knocking on doors, or making phone calls to ensure that my message for the future of the Pawtucket school committee is reaching voters leading up to the election on September 11th. I am determined to lead the children in Pawtucket by example - by working hard and tackling life's problems head-on.

4) You used to work for the Providence After School Alliance (PASA), which is considered a national model for after school programming. What does PASA get right and do other communities have ability to replicate its success?

Working at PASA, I learned the importance of giving our children after-school opportunities in order to increase student achievement and reduce truancy and crime. What I believe PASA gets right is the capacity of building partnerships and capitalizing on external resources that benefit the students, from local organizations to higher education institutions. PASA also ensures that its work is aligned with that of the school district. I believe that the PASA model can work in Pawtucket, especially finding a way to integrate our children into the many great arts and cultural organizations that are located here. It will require a lot of work but I think a model like PASA would be great for Pawtucket.

5) Tell us something nobody knows about you.

I was chosen to represent the United States at the United Nations Commission of Status of Women – a summit to advocate for Woman’s rights.

Quick Hitters

Role Model: My Father, Roberto Cano

Favorite Restaurant: La Arepa Restaurant in Pawtucket, excellent Venezuelan food

Best Beach: Block Island beach

Best Book You've Read in the Last Year: “Be happy without being perfect” by Alice D. Domar Ph. D and Alice Lesch Kelly

Advice for the Next Sandra Cano: That anything in life is possible with hard work, intelligence, honesty and integrity! Follow your dreams and have perseverance.

Dan McGowan can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @danmcgowan.


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