PORTSMOUTH, RI — Karen McDaid is running for a seat on the Portsmouth School Committee. The 62-year-old Democrat has served on the committee for the past two years.
McDaid worked as a teacher for 18 years and a strategic marketing consultant for 11 years. She has a bachelor's of science from Syracuse University, a master's of business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a master's of science in education from Bank Street College.
Why are you seeking elective office?
It has been my honor to serve Portsmouth as a School Committee member for the past two years. During that time I have served on the Policy Committee, the Capital Committee, and the Instructions and Supports Working Team (for reopening the schools). I would like very much to continuing that work.
I believe I bring a unique perspective to the School Committee, as someone who lives and breathes the day-to-day of education and has dealt with Massachusetts standards and testing for the past 18 years. I have always thought that Portsmouth has a great school system, and I want to contribute to making that system even better.
What do you believe should be done to contain the coronavirus pandemic, and what would you do to lessen its economic impacts?
I agree with CDC Director Robert Redfield who said recently, "If we could get everybody to wear a mask right now, I think in four, six, eight weeks we could bring this epidemic under control." The best way to lessen the economic impacts of this pandemic is to face the seriousness of the virus and trust the experts to recommend steps that will most quickly bring it to an end.
That said, our challenge is to make education accessible and effective for all students, while keeping students and staff safe and healthy. The Portsmouth School District did an exemplary job of adapting to online instruction in the spring. Figuring out how to maximize learning during these trying, ever-changing times, will continue to require the best efforts of everyone in our community.
Do you believe systemic racism is a problem in America generally and Rhode Island specifically, and if so, what would you do to combat it?
Yes, statistical evidence demonstrates that systemic racism is a problem in the U.S. and in Rhode Island. Education is an important part of combating this problem. We must make sure, first and foremost, that all students in our community have equitable access to education. We must make sure that all students and staff treat each other with respect. Finally, we must make sure that our students' education reflects the history of all Americans, so that we may celebrate all our victories and prevent ourselves from repeating our mistakes.
Should the words "Providence Plantations" be removed from the state's name?
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
The other candidates seeking this post, Emily Copeland and Juan Carlos Payero, also currently serve on the Portsmouth School Committee, where we have enjoyed a productive and effective working relationship. We are running unopposed for three places on the School Committee, and I wholeheartedly support their candidacy as well as my own.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
My top priorities are: to improve the academic rigor of our schools while supporting the well-being of all our students; to help create a capital improvements plan that reflects budgetary constraints, best teaching practice, and the ever-changing needs created by the COVID crisis; and to keep our school community -- students, teachers, and staff -- safe and well.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
Because of my experience in Massachusetts, I understand what the state standards and tests require and how to approach them successfully. I also understand that standardized tests are not a true reflection of the quality of the school or the students, and that we must support the whole child, and the whole student population.
Because of my experience as a strategic marketing consultant, I understand how to ask the questions that allow me to understand and improve situations quickly and effectively. I also understand the importance of fiscal responsibility.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Seek out and get to know people who are different from you.