Lawrence school board member and social worker Carole Cadue-Blackwood files for reelection
photo by: contributed
Lawrence school board member and social worker Carole Cadue-Blackwood has filed for reelection, becoming the first incumbent to do so.
Cadue-Blackwood, who was elected to the school board in 2019, is a licensed social worker and serves as the behavioral health specialist for the Kansas City Indian Center. Regarding her motivation for wanting to continue to serve on the board, Cadue-Blackwood spoke to her ties to the community and a desire to continue her work regarding children’s education.
“As we all say, they are our most precious resource,” Cadue-Blackwood said. “And I have deep roots within this community.”
Cadue-Blackwood grew up in Lawrence and attended Lawrence public schools from kindergarten through 12th grade. She married her high school sweetheart, and their three children went through Lawrence public schools. She said she continues to have extended family members within the Lawrence district.
Cadue-Blackwood said her top issues for the upcoming term include continued support of diversity, equity and inclusion in public education; social and emotional health; and providing greater support for the district’s teachers and educators.
Before her election to the school board, Cadue-Blackwood led a campaign that resulted in the name of South Middle School being changed to honor Olympian Billy Mills, a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), who attended Haskell Institute and the University of Kansas. Cadue-Blackwood, a citizen of the Kickapoo Tribe also affiliated with the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, has also been a proponent of the development of an Indigenous curriculum for the district.
“That was my main reason for leading the Billy Mills Middle School name change, and I’m fully supportive of creating awareness for our Native American students and improving curriculum at the local and state levels,” she said. “DEI is not just a mission, but it’s a vision and a goal for my actual life practice.”
As an example, she said the KC Indian Center created a partnership with Kansas City, Missouri, public schools, and just last week, after several years of work, finalized plans to launch a pilot program to teach the Cherokee language in the Kansas City public schools. She hopes the initiative will serve as a role model for Kansas public schools.
Regarding social and emotional health, she said she thought the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on emotional health, and that the district is continuing to see the impacts of the pandemic. She said she would like to provide greater supports for mental health, including more meaningful partnerships with KU, Haskell Indian Nations University and Baker University.
Cadue-Blackwood said the district also needs to find ways to provide greater support to its educators. She said the teaching profession is in crisis, and there needed to be some redistribution of work and priorities.
“I’m willing to go the extra mile to support our educators to keep them from leaving Lawrence or the educational system period,” she said. “Because they are burned out.”
Cadue-Blackwood, who was one of three board members to vote against closing Pinckney and Broken Arrow elementary schools, said she was heartbroken about recent school closures, especially considering they have all affected schools on the east side of town. She said she thought the district needed to look for other resources, such as grants, as well as do some belt-tightening and reallocation of resources.
The terms of Cadue-Blackwood, school board President Shannon Kimball, Vice President Paula Vann and Past President Erica Hill will expire at the end of this year. Cadue-Blackwood is the first incumbent to file for reelection. In addition to Cadue-Blackwood, newcomers Rachel Stumblingbear, Anne Costello, Justine Burton, Yolanda Franklin, Kevin Coronado, Ariel Miner and Edward (E.J.) Gonzales have filed for election.