In her own words

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Check out Marlena's Ballotpedia entry!

Because I Can!

 I'm a non-traditional candidate running a non-traditional campaign because I've seen how "the way things always work" doesn't work for everybody. Is there any reason a short, purple-haired woman from the West Side with a burning passion to fight for educational justice can't run for school board? I'm doing this because I can, because I want to, and because students and families deserve someone who fights on their side.


 I'm a proud graduate of Cincinnati's public schools and parent of a current CPS student. I've been a teen parent struggling with the demands of school, work, and motherhood. I was a college graduate unable to find a job making a living wage to support myself and my daughter. I'm a person who lives out loud, comfortable in my own skin.


 I believe in public education. I believe it has the power to shape minds and change lives. Most importantly, I believe that in Cincinnati Public Schools we have the power to bring out the best in our kids and support them on the path to graduation and beyond. Our school board policies need to reflect this not only on paper, but also in how we spend your tax dollars, taking into account that CPS is a large, urban district with diverse educational needs. When I take office, I will be your full-time board member, working to make sure the district is walking its talk on behalf of the students.  

Empowering Students Through Curriculum

Public education is one of the fundamental institutions of our American democracy. As such, our curriculum should reflect upon and instill in our students the value of critical thinking and civic engagement. From day one of their

schooling, they will be on a journey not just towards college or a career, but also to being empowered to participate in the public arena.

Authentic, On-going Community Engagement

Everyone benefits from a school district that excels. By committing to building and repairing relationships between the school board, community members, students and their families, and other governing bodies, the level of community buy-in for our schools can be increased. The conversation amongst all these groups needs to be open and on-going.


District stakeholders need to know they’re being heard, and it is not best practice in community engagement to have people always coming to you; you need to meet them where they are, in the places they feel comfortable. We need a broad coalition of people and voices because the decisions made at the board have far-reaching effects, both within the district and beyond. 


The key word in public schools is “public”; that means everybody.

Protecting Students in the Schools

The fear of gun violence in schools is all-too real for our young people. As a parent, I am extremely concerned with protecting students and staff from violence in the schools. 


Our state legislature has seen fit in the wake of Parkland and the rash of gun violence across the country to introduce bills which would make it easier to purchase these weapons, AND allow people to carry them into a wider range of public places. I am adamant in saying this is not the direction we need to go to keep people safe. 


I support efforts for stricter and more thorough background checks, closing loopholes for purchase online and at gun shows, and oppose legislation intended to supercede the control of local school districts and arm teachers in the classroom.

Pathways to Graduation and Beyond

I support college-readiness and expanding career-tech training. Programs like these respect a student's choice to explore their post-graduation options. Whether they decide to go to work or seek higher education, students should be in an environment where labor and learning are valued and respected equally.

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Practicing What We Preach

I want to see more alignment between policy and practice regarding equity and education. They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but what about the ones that need spokes repaired? They can be just as functional, it just takes extra time and effort to fix. 

Diversity and Inclusion

The sheer diversity represented by CPS students is one of the District's greatest strengths. In fact, Board anti-discrimination policies are more progressive than the State of Ohio's. What still needs work is making sure that all buildings and facilities in the district are inclusive. How welcome do students and their families feel inside their own school? What about when they visit other CPS schools? Developing metrics to objectively measure how inclusive individual schools are will provide much-needed guidance both for the present, and in planning for future growth. 

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