Q&A: Greenfield School Committee candidate Glenn Johnson-Mussad


Published: 10/28/2021 4:41:27 PM

Editor’s note: This questionnaire was completed by Glenn Johnson-Mussad, one of five candidates on the ballot for three School Committee seats with four-year terms in the Nov. 2 election. (Johnson-Mussad is running as part of a slate of candidates with Kathryn Lynn Martini and Elizabeth Ann Deneeve.)

Work experience (past/present): I worked in public health community organizing from 1999 to 2015. I am currently a trainer and consultant focused on advancing racial justice and facilitative leadership for nonprofits. Current and past clients include United Way Worldwide, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Williams College.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Certificate in project management from Google.

Political experience: I’ve served on the Greenfield School Committee since 2019, currently committee secretary and chair of the Policy and Program Subcommittee. Member of the Greenfield Democratic Town Committee.

How long have you lived in Greenfield? Since 2000.

What qualities would you bring to the School Committee?

Respect: I will continue to treat everyone with respect, whether I’m on or off camera and whether students, staff, parents and School Committee colleagues are “in the room” or not.

Transparency: I will follow the letter and spirit of Open Meeting Law. The public deserves to see their elected officials deliberating openly. No one should have to worry about what we are saying on email or behind closed doors.

Equity: I will fight to make sure every student gets a great education in Greenfield, regardless of their race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or ability.

Community Engagement: I want to hear from families and will insist that the public have a voice at School Committee meetings about anything related to the School Committee’s work. I will work to increase access so people can share their thoughts with us online and in person. I want families to know their elected officials listen to them.

Which subcommittees would you be interested in serving on and why?

I would like to serve on the Budget and Finance Subcommittee and Policy and Program Subcommittee. I believe budgets are moral documents. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, I proposed directing $15,000 — the same amount we had budgeted for a school resource officer — toward racial justice programs at the high school. That motion was defeated, but a motion to direct the budget committee to make adjustments to the fiscal year 2021 budget for racial and social justice was approved. Unfortunately, this did not happen. I will insist that we examine the equity implications of all of our budget decisions.

Under my leadership, the policy subcommittee has brought many of our policies in line with best practices. I’m proud of the proposed policy on public comment that would allow our constituents the opportunity to talk to us not only about items on the agenda, but also about anything that is within our purview as a committee. I’d like to continue the work of updating our policies and seeking ways to use policy to improve our engagement with the community.

What are the biggest challenges facing Greenfield’s public schools, and how would you aim to address them?

The schools are dealing with intense staffing shortages and the learning loss and social-emotional challenges that hit students during the pandemic. The solution has to do with resources. Beyond that, I support the development of a strategic plan with equity at the center. A cooperative and thoughtful School Committee working with the administration and the community can play an important role in charting a path forward.

How would you balance economic constraints with providing quality programming for students?

People in Greenfield are struggling. It is hard to make a living and pay our taxes. At the same time, the schools absolutely need more funding to attract and retain great teachers and staff, to engage them with high-quality professional development, and to invest in climate and culture work.

In the short term, the best way we can make use of limited resources is to focus on curriculum. I was proud to be part of bringing a new interim superintendent for curriculum on board.

In the long run, we need to stop funding education through local real estate taxes. The quality of a child’s education should not be determined by the value of real estate in their ZIP code. My work advocating for Greenfield students won’t stop with the School Committee. I will advocate for an amendment to our state constitution that will tax millionaires and billionaires at a higher rate and increase education funding for communities like Greenfield.

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