Berdetta Hodge

Children in OR graduate from Tempe Union schools: Life-long Tempe resident and graduate of Tempe schools, mother to two Tempe-education sons

Education: Arizona State University, Tempe High School.

Community involvement: President, TUHSD Governing Board; Vice-Chair, Booker T. Washington Child Development Center; former Education Liaison, East Valley NAACP; Former board member, Hope’s Crossing; former board member, Mesa Arts Foundation; former president, multiple parent-teacher organizations, volunteer, Boys & Girls Club.

What top three skills would you bring to the board?

  • Experience leading the school district, managing its budget, and collaborating with other officials to meet community needs
  • Strong written and oral communication skills when representing the district and working with students, families, staff, and community stakeholders
  • Deep knowledge of our district and the challenges facing our community members

Why should voters vote for you? It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as President of the TUHSD Governing Board. I stand to continue supporting Arizona’s next generation of leaders. That means erasing education inequity among students, paying staff livable wages, and serving our neighbors in need. I will continue striving to ensure TUHSD has a strong voice shaping education in Arizona.

Has the pandemic affected your view of a governing board’s role in general? If so, how? The pandemic strengthened my resolve that TUHSD impacts more than classrooms. We touch everything from taxes and healthcare to food and jobs; as an official, it is my duty to serve constituents, that includes coordinating recovery efforts with governments, nonprofits, and businesses.

I have advocated for our community my entire life, and have the experience, knowledge of local systems, and stakeholder relationships necessary for continued service.

Assuming COVID-19 will be with us indefinitely, does Tempe Union need to do something it isn’t doing now to ensure a quality high school experience for students over the next four years:

1)         Where academics generally and preparation for higher ed and/or the job market are concerned? The pandemic has changed everything. We must do all we can to keep our community safe and take care of our kids’ social and emotional well-beings. That starts with mobilizing our staff to provide East Valley families food, clothing, and good schools. We must also focus on erasing the digital divide by ensuring all students access technology and the internet.

2)             Where students’ social-emotional wellness is concerned?We must do all we can to keep our community safe and take care of our kids’ social and emotional well-being. I will work to ensure our staff has up-to-date training on identifying and handling issues pertaining to emotional well-being so they may spot warning signs of depression and other mental illnesses. When courses handle emotionally-sensitive content, educators will then be equipped to have conversations in their classrooms about coping with mental distress. Additionally, I am working to erase the digital divide by ensuring all students have working computers and the internet. This will not only allow them to access remote learning today, but will also prepare them to enter the 21st century workforce where computer literacy is a must.

What is biggest challenge confronting the district that must be addressed within the next two years and how would you address that challenge? We must endeavor to maintain high-quality instruction and advance equity in TUHSD while serving every community member, not just those sending their kids to school. That requires embracing our role as a community institution and creating a level playing field for every student and teacher in the district. That means we close the technology gap and ensure our teachers are fully compensated.

If funding became a critical issue for the district in the next two years, would you be more inclined to cut programs or raise taxes? Why? I would insist on having a palette of options derived from analyses from administrators and staff. I would assess what reductions can be made, with the goals of preserving jobs, maintaining service to students, and complying with our duty to maintain a balanced budget. I will also have the courage to work with the community to identify options to raise revenue when it makes sense for providing our critical services.

Knowing what you know now, would you vote to extend Dr. Mendivil’s contract beyond June 2021? Dr. Mendivil has worked proactively to keep our students safe and care for our teachers and staff. He is always looking for opportunities to serve the community broadly and has been a steadfast advocate for our kids in a critical time. He is someone we can trust for years to come.

What is the one area the district administration is addressing in an exceptional manner and why do you think that? I am pleased with the transparency with which we operate. I am a regular presence at community events and work closely with principals, teachers, and students to fulfill needs of schools and families. The staff we hire also embraces accountability. I am also very pleased that efforts to provide technology to students are making a difference in their educational careers.

What three accomplishments as a board member are you proudest of?  I am an accessible and active advocate for our teachers, students, and community. After the Parkland shooting, I pressured governments to invest in mental health. Additionally, my student and staff engagement, strengthens our schools and community. I have dedicated efforts to champion full funding for our schools and have worked to secure millions of dollars in education funding.

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