ELi is running profiles of all candidates for East Lansing’s Board of Education in alphabetical order on an every-other-day schedule. This is the second in the series.
Kath Edsall is a long-time social justice advocate for children with disabilities and challenges, who often lack in political power or a public voice. This is what led her to create her extensive and diverse family with partner Alice Parr. It is also what led her to run for the East Lansing Board of Education four years ago.
And it is these children who keep her strong as she fights to hold onto her seat on the Board.
“People think I am such an advocate because of the family that I have,” she said. “But what they don’t know is that I have the family I have because I have always been an advocate.”
Edsall, a veterinarian and graduate of Michigan State University, is proud of many of the achievements of the Board in the past four years. She points to the renewed efforts of the Sex Ed Advisory Board to update the teachings for middle and high school students, the implementation of Title I programming for Donley Elementary School and the work on many levels of the Board and the administration to make the District more safe and welcoming for children of all races, religions, genders and orientations.
“We are moving in the right direction on many issues,” she said. “There is still work to be done and we can to that as a community.”
She is also aware that she is seen by many as “stuck” on reopening Red Cedar Elementary. But Edsall said she is trying to follow the plan from the beginning of the realignment of elementary schools and that is to take advantage of one of the District’s newer elementary schools and make sure all the students are served by the best possibly facilities.
She has proposed that the Red Cedar building be reopened as a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics magnet school, and most recently, as a preschool, kindergarten, first and second grade facility. Both, in Edsall’s opinion, would have opened more classrooms in the other elementary schools while offering a wide array of options to parents. Neither proposal ever involved closing another school in place of Red Cedar, she said.
In the future, Edsall is hopeful the Board can work to close the opportunity gap between the highest and lowest achieving students, work toward adding innovative programming to the District, and resolve the issues of overcrowding in certain grade levels throughout the District. She is also eagerly awaiting the results of the newly created Bond Committee which is reviewing the District’s facilities before an anticipated bond election next spring.
“I believe we can do something to make all of our community happy and meet the educational needs of all of our kids,” she said. ‘We have a lot of resources here and in some ways, we can do it all.”
In addition to her term on the Board of Education, Edsall has served on the Sex Ed Advisory Board, the K-8 Facilities Board, as a Parent Council officer and as a coach.