Name: De’Andre Barnes
Biography: De’Andre Barnes currently runs a nonprofit for children called the Portsmouth City Sports Club, Incorporated. He is a Portsmouth native who graduated from Virginia State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He also has a master’s degree in urban affairs from Norfolk State University.
1. Why should residents elect you to the School Board?
Residents should elect me because I am not about a bunch of speeches or words, I am about actions and results. As voters, you have a very difficult job! You have to decide which candidates to trust. Truth is that during election season, a lot of people say a lot of things. As voters, you have to look at people’s records and past actions. You have to look at who shows up for the camera and who does the necessary work behind the camera. You have to decide who has always had the best interest of the citizens they are serving and who hasn’t. Most importantly, you have to look at what people have been saying and doing while they are running for office and what they have been doing before and after they have run for office. See me, I am rather unique. In 2016, I ran for a seat on the Portsmouth School Board. My motto was, Committed to Community, Dedicated to Progress. I showed my commitment to the community by advocating and successfully getting a community center on the Southside of Portsmouth. As a youth coordinator for PRHA housing, I implemented the first STEM program in PRHA housing, and I successfully started a youth non-profit organization that provides programs for children year-round. My program doesn’t turn down any children for any reasons. While it was unfortunate that I was unsuccessful in my quest for a seat on the School Board in 2016, I remained committed and have increased my work within the community by doing the same things above and more. In fact, on June 8, I lost my race, on June 11, I took a group of 22 girls to a cheer competition. Which is why my new motto is, De’Andre A. Barnes is “STILL Committed to Community, Dedicated to Progress.” You do not have to ask yourself is he about a bunch of speeches, words, photo ops, press runs. My record shows you exactly who I am and who I will be as a member of the Portsmouth School Board. This is why I believe the people of Portsmouth should elect me on November 6th for Portsmouth School Board.
2. What would you do to improve school security?
I want to first start by saying, I think that Portsmouth Public Schools has done a great job securing our schools but there is always room for improvement. As a parent of three children who attend Portsmouth Public Schools, I have firsthand knowledge of some of the safety measures put in place for our children. As a candidate, one of my campaign initiatives is to widen communication between the school board and the community. It’s going to take the help of community organizations, churches, and regular citizens to keep our schools safe. Working with our community partners who deal directly with the children/parents in our neighborhoods will help build relationships that will keep our schools safe.
3. How would you invest in technology and improve its applications in your schools?
To invest in technology, we must take an in-depth look at what we are currently spending on technology and the return on our investment. We need to seek partnerships with global technology companies that have an interest in expanding opportunities for urban based school divisions. Portsmouth Public Schools programs like Peachjar, Class Dojo, and Power School have allowed us to be more informed about what is going on in our classrooms without actually being in front of our teachers. As a parent, I would like to see our classrooms with more iPads. Instead of our children writing journals, we could use technology to encourage them to create a blog. When I attended Portsmouth Public Schools, we use to write letters to pen pals to increase penmanship. In the 21st century, emails are important. We could use email exchange to type emails to students in another school, city, state or even country. This would be very beneficial, especially if our children are studying the same material. Moreover, I would love to see online courses. Especially, in subjects where teachers are limited in classroom time because of Standard of Accreditation testing.
4. What are the most challenging aspects of being a teacher in your community? How would you support your teachers through these challenges?
Teachers are challenged to balance the different learning needs of students, disciplinary, and socioeconomic concerns all while facing morale issues and compensatory disparities. I would support our teachers by encouraging open communication among our teachers, administration, and board. Teachers want to be heard and want to feel their voice matters and it’s important that we show them that. We have to provide an open-door policy where they feel that they can express themselves without repercussions. Also, I would encourage our teachers to work with other teachers with experience for mentorship. Teachers desire that support system and we must ensure they are receiving peer to peer support. Lastly, I will fight for competitive pay for our teachers here in Portsmouth. We are losing teachers to nearby cities because the pay is not competitive. For all the work that our teachers do, I don’t think we could truly pay them what they are worth; however, we have to make sure that what they make is enough to take care of their families. My daughter 5th Grade teacher told me that she may have to work a 3rd job. Maybe I am selfish but, I would like for my daughter’s teacher to only focus on her classroom, but I understand that she has to take care of her family and I will fight to make sure that she only works more than one job by choice and not by force.
5. What would you do to better support your vulnerable students? For example, those who live in poverty.
One of the most important things we can do to better support our vulnerable students, are to make sure they have the resources to get a quality education. Children who attend school districts with better resources are more likely to complete high school and have better earnings which decreases poverty when they are adults. If we don’t invest in the children now, we will have no choice to invest in them later when they are getting locked up, and other negative things that will cost taxpayers.
6. What are your top three budget priorities?
- Retention, Compensation, and Incentives for highly qualified Teachers
- Increase Vocational Career and Technical Education Offerings in our Schools
- Classroom Instruction and Technology