By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — Albert Abbas, Patrick D’Ambrosio, Sabrina Evans-Cummings and Maali Luqman are the four seeking a seat on the Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education come Nov. 3. The winning candidate will fill a two-year partial-term position.
Abbas, 44, is the chair of the Education Committee for Dearborn Community Council; D’Ambrosio is founder of Die-Namic and a manufacturing consultant; Evans-Cummings, 54, is the principal at Carver STEM Academy in Detroit Public Schools Community District; and Luqman, 36, is a fellow with the Kellogg Foundation and Center for Creative Studies
Each were asked to respond to questions with responses limited to a 120-word count for each. All responses exceeding that limit were edited.
Question 1: List your education, experience or skills you posses that make you a qualified candidate.
Abbas: I am a product of Dearborn Public Schools K-12. I graduated from University of Michigan Dearborn and obtained a MBA from the University of Phoenix. I currently serve on two subcommittees under the leadership of Dr. Glen Maleyko. I am the chair of the Education Committee for Dearborn Community Council. I was also on the forefront of defeating the BRICS bond that lacked transparency and fiscal responsibility. I am currently working with the administration to come up with a more fruitful plan to modernize our schools.
D’Ambrosio: As a former business owner and member of the HFC President’s Advisory Council, I can bring to the board real-world business experience and fiscal expertise.
Evans-Cummings: Bachelor of arts – Western Michigan University – 1988; Henry Ford Community College – transfer student – 1989; master of arts – University of Detroit-Mercy – 2000; education specialist – University of Detroit-Mercy – 2002; doctorate – Walden University – 2016. I would bring my professional knowledge as a teacher, curriculum leader, and administrator to make the best decision for DPS staff and students. Also, I am currently a business owner with an independent insurance agency, that will partner with Dearborn Public Schools and provide foundational grants for employees. Finally, I would like to provide diversity to the school board as a new resident of Dearborn.
Luqman: Product of Dearborn Public Schools and Henry Ford College, University of Michigan – bachelor’s degree; Harvard University – master’s degree; educator with 17 years experience in and out of the classroom; ESL and special needs teaching experience; former district associate dean at a community college; long-time mentor; community organizer; international experience; and fellow with the Kellogg Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership’s Community Leadership Network on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Community Leadership.
Question 2: If (re)elected, what are three issues facing your constituents you would work to address and how?
Abbas: I would work on addressing our current pandemic — the technology and learning resources needed to succeed in the future of education. I would decrease student to teacher ratios, address the infrastructure problems, energy efficiency, ELL and IEP learners, mental health, drug addiction and bullying. To accomplish this, I would first have to start with the budget to reallocate funds where needed. I would increase the 5 percent the BRICS bond proposed on technology previously to about 10 to 15 percent. The pandemic proved that we are light years behind in terms of technology. I would immediately hire more social workers and team up with other community experts to take the load of the schools to address mental health.
D’Ambrosio: 1) Safe reopening of schools. I will rely on credible scientific and medical experts. For as long as needed, I will assure that the technology and training in remote learning is funded and is based on successful programs across the nation. 2) Funding. State funding needs to be increased. I will lobby state legislators personally. There also needs to be a system for parents and students to convey to legislators the needs and successes of our students. Additional grant money should also be sought from businesses and foundations – to provide an educational programs that result in productive futures. 3) Dearborn’s college. HFC’s Dual Enrollment and its Early College programs should be expanded – real money savers for parents.
Evans-Cummings: I would address these three issues/concerns: 1) The current “Teaching and Learning Options” for staff and families for the remainder of the school year. Clearly, the country is dealing with an increased surge of staff and students attracting COVID-19. As an elected board member, I would always put the health and safety of staff and students First. I would address the ways that would allow teachers and students to select a virtual, face-to-face, or hybrid option. Also, I would like to further research how we can increase the number of virtual schools within the district for staff and families who want a “School @ Home Virtual Option;” 2) Increase the number of STEM and STEAM schools across the district with a face-to-face, hybrid, or virtual option.
Luqman: Returning to school safely and addressing pandemic impacts on students, staff, and families. Ensuring district resources are allocated equitably. Cultivating an enriching educational experience throughout the district by embracing and integrating Dearborn’s diversity.
Question 3: Why are you seeking (re)election? Why should people vote for you?
Abbas: The residents of Dearborn pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We need someone who is not a career politician to stand up for the children, educators, and the residents flipping the bill. The residents need someone to stand up to the bureaucracies, and wasteful spending like I did during the flimsy BRICS bond. I am the only candidate that took a stance and defeated the bond. I am the only two-year candidate that is vested and has four boys under the age of 10 in the district. I am the only candidate that refuses to cater to PACs other institutions to garner votes. I am here to represent the entire city and look forward to fighting the establishment to secure a future for our children.
D’Ambrosio: Now more that ever, our children, grandchildren, and young adults need to understand how our democratic system of government works, its checks and balances, the importance of voting, and holding elected officials accountable. I have lived in Dearborn for 45 years. My two children graduated from the Dearborn schools and have gone on to successful careers. I want to give our children and grandchildren every opportunity that Dearborn has given me and my family. I am also a major fundraiser for the Dearborn Public Schools, Goodfellows, Firefighters Burn Center, Animal Shelter, Exchange Club and Kidney Foundation, and a former youth football and basketball coach.
Evans-Cummings: Voters should elect me because I am an educator at heart. I’ve had the pleasure of serving as an educator for 28 years as a support staff, student teacher, certified teacher, curriculum leader, administrator, and adjunct professor. Voters should vote for me because I have passion for education, and I will bring more diversity to the board and ensure that all voices are heard within the district. I would like to ensure that we work to increase teaching and learning across the district. I am a team player and want what is best for the families in Dearborn Public Schools.
Luqman: As an educator of 17 years, I have classroom experience as well as college administrative experience. I have training in community leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion. I have good standing with my community and understand what inclusive representation means. I work well with all people and enjoy building bridges between diverse groups. These experiences will serve well on our school board. As a Dearborn Public Schools alumna, I paved a path from Henry Ford College, to the University of Michigan, to Harvard University and back. I’d like for all Dearborn Public Schools students to realize they too can pursue lofty goals and still return to serve their community.
For more information on the election or candidates go to www.lwvddh.org or www.vote411.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])