Dr. Martin Karp is an educator and public servant running for the Miami-Dade School Board. He currently serves as the Dean of Academic Affairs and Community Engagement for the Talmudic University consortium, which includes various educational institutions and programs. Before this role, he was an elected official on the Miami-Dade County School Board for 16 years, during which he held the position of Vice-Chair multiple times. A lifelong Miami-Dade resident, Dr. Karp earned multiple degrees from the University of Miami and Syracuse University. His professional background includes roles as Business Manager for Southern Playbill Publishing and Circulation Director for Miami Beach Magazine. Dr. Karp has been a dedicated advocate for education, implementing various innovative programs and assessments at Talmudic University. He also has a long history of educational initiatives and advocacy during his tenure on the School Board, including work on programs for students with disabilities, dropout prevention, and science education. Dr. Karp has received numerous awards for his contributions to education and community service. He and his wife, Danielle, are active in Scouting and community volunteering with their three sons.

You’ve had a significant tenure on the Miami-Dade School Board and extensive experience in education. What motivated you to run for the Miami-Dade School Board again, and what specific goals do you aim to achieve if elected?

I see a significant opportunity with a relatively new superintendent and a changing board. My experience in unifying people, regardless of political affiliation, and my commitment to education make me confident in stepping back into this role. Having previously served on the board, I can immediately contribute without a learning curve, as I know the necessary work and have remained connected to the education sector. The unexpected vacancy and issues in nearby districts underscore the urgency to maintain progress and prevent regression. I’m passionate about education and eager to serve, aiming to enhance students’ school experiences and educational outcomes.

You have a history of being described as prepared and knowledgeable given your previous experience in this seat. Can you please elaborate on your preparedness for this role?

From a young age as an Eagle Scout and the son of a war veteran, I learned the importance of dedication and giving my all. I approached my role as a Miami-Dade board member with the same commitment, making it my full-time job. Over 16 years, I attended every board meeting without fail. Preparing for these meetings involved presenting items for the board to vote on. I based these items on thorough research, my personal experiences in the classroom, and feedback from stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and students. As a result, I successfully had over 100 policy initiatives voted on, with all but one passing.

That statistic is indeed remarkable. I don’t believe such a record exists in any political body. How did you navigate political affiliations amongst board members and parent constituents?

Our board positions are non-partisan, but sometimes members allow their personal politics to influence their items or votes. My goal has always been, and will continue to be, to keep politics out of my decisions. I focus on evaluating each item based on whether it represents the best educational practice. You can review my items at martinkarp.com. One thing I am particularly proud of is that, after examining my items, you wouldn’t be able to discern my political views because they are well-researched educational proposals, free from personal politics. I believe it’s essential to ensure that students are not subjected to political views while they are in our care.

One example that comes to mind about the impact of listening to parents is when a parent approached me about the lack of healthy alternatives in school vending machines. After conducting research and requesting staff to study the feasibility, we implemented fruit vending machines, which are now part of our vending options.

In the course of your career how have you effectively communicated with various stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and community members, to foster collaboration and support student success?

I prioritize staying connected with people by being present in schools and actively listening. This approach earned me a Lifetime Legacy Award from the county PTA/PTSA, recognizing my collaborative efforts. I believe in involving stakeholders in developing initiatives, ensuring their concerns shape policy decisions. Additionally, I was very committed to responding to people promptly. We had a policy of getting back to everyone within 24 hours, unless it was urgent, in which case we responded even sooner. This ensured that people felt heard and valued, avoiding the frustration of unreturned communications. This cooperative and responsive method is essential for effectively representing the community and advancing educational goals.

How were your action items influenced by your conversations with constituents or employees?

Most of the action items came from direct conversations with constituents and employees, but some were based on my understanding of the school system. With over thirty years of experience teaching and serving on the board for MDCPS, I have dedicated myself to this role full-time. I make it a point to attend school events regularly. When I first attended the science fair, I was shocked to see it held in an empty mall with very few participants. As a strong advocate for hands-on activities and competition, especially in science and technology, I proposed an initiative to staff to increase participation in the science fair. By the time I left the board, participation had increased by over 400 percent, and the event was held at Miami Dade College. Additionally, I directed staff to organize a science banquet similar to our sports banquet, celebrating students’ academic achievements. Another initiative I supported was increasing recess and physical education for students.

How do you approach strategic planning to ensure every student receives a quality education and reaches their full potential?

We coordinate with staff and community stakeholders to identify areas needing improvement and build on successful initiatives. Our focus is on providing a top-tier education and a safe, unbiased learning environment, emphasizing both basic skills and elective courses that prepare students for life beyond graduation. Recognizing each child’s unique needs, I set up a program for students with unique abilities, providing them a conducive learning environment. I am committed to a 24-hour response policy, respectful listening, and keeping politics out of education. My goals include expanding after-school programs, ensuring every student graduates with practical skills, supporting physical education, promoting field trips, and advocating for augmented intelligence. I also aim to make Miami-Dade County Public Schools a technology hub by enhancing teacher training and pursuing grants. For more information, visit martinkarp.com, which includes my biography and action plan in English and Spanish.

During your previous terms, you introduced several initiatives aimed at decreasing high school dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. How do you plan to build on these initiatives, and what new strategies do you envision implementing?

Emphasizing a plan where students graduate with practical skills in areas like music, arts, coding, robotics, or auto maintenance motivates them to stay in school by making their education relevant. This relevance addresses the common student sentiment of questioning the necessity of school subjects. Demonstrating the direct benefits of education, such as improved critical thinking and practical post-graduation skills, increases student engagement and graduation rates. My experience in teaching gifted and talented students highlighted that a lack of challenge and connection often leads to dropout risks. Providing a differentiated curriculum can keep these students motivated. Similarly, understanding and supporting students with ADHD through behavior modification and other strategies can boost their success and self-confidence. Implementing the right strategies ensures all students feel supported and are able to reach their full potential.

There appears to be a case regarding your involvement in afterschool programming. It mentioned that school board members should not be involved in afterschool activities, yet your office was involved. Can you clarify this situation?

I brought a variety of afterschool programs to every school, as it was my office’s responsibility to listen to parents and provide these opportunities. However, they chose to take issue with just one program. I have always been a strong advocate for extracurricular activities, so it’s an understatement to say I disagreed with that report and the articles about it. I have spent my life defending others, and now it was my turn to defend my own office. In the end, it was determined that there was no wrongdoing. Moreover, the after school organization filed a countersuit against the school administration, and the United States Court of Appeals For the Eleventh Circuit clearly ruled that it was always the school board’s responsibility to manage facilities and afterschool programs, thereby supporting our actions.

How did you handle this adversity and hardships that arose during your role?

During that challenging time, resilience was key, and it’s a skill we must instill in our students. I firmly believe that both children and adults possess greater strength and potential than they often realize. Teaching resilience not only helps individuals overcome obstacles but also empowers them to thrive in the face of adversity. Through these experiences, I have seen firsthand the remarkable capabilities within each person, and it is my mission to ensure that our educational system nurtures and develops this inner strength in every student.

You have a history of engaging with the community through various initiatives and media programs. How do you plan to increase community involvement and support for public schools in your new term?

We utilize various committees to involve community members in school board initiatives and host townhall meetings to connect with the community. This approach helps garner support and input from those eager to contribute but unsure how. By providing platforms for sharing thoughts and ideas, we foster collaborative efforts. I pride myself on my ability to work with individuals of different political affiliations and backgrounds, unifying rather than dividing. This skill is crucial for accomplishing goals on the school board.

Given your previous efforts in addressing student health and safety, what new measures or improvements would you advocate for to ensure the well-being of students in Miami-Dade schools?

While on the board, we established a department dedicated to mental health initiatives, ensuring every school has a go-to person for students and families seeking support. This department provides resources and guidance, addressing needs such as crisis intervention, bereavement, and bullying. Additionally, I served on the Children’s Trust, which offers similar community services. I would continue to emphasize this support system, ensuring there are dedicated staff members in schools to initiate conversations and help students achieve positive outcomes.

What lessons have you learned from your past experiences on the School Board that will guide your decision-making and leadership style in the future?

One key lesson I’ve learned is the importance of teamwork in achieving our goals. When we collaborate effectively, we accomplish much more than when we work in isolation. Maintaining our focus on student achievement and supporting teachers is crucial, as teachers who feel supported are more energized and effective. Our students have shown remarkable resilience, especially during challenges like COVID-19, and we must continue to recognize and nurture their potential. By offering a variety of exciting and engaging options, we can inspire students to eagerly attend school and learn.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Miami-Dade schools today, and how do you plan to address them?

One of the challenges is managing declining enrollment in certain schools and determining how to repurpose these facilities, such as using them for affordable workforce housing for teachers. Competing in the educational marketplace requires offering excellent programs that parents want, focusing on basics and specific skills without political bias in the classroom. Providing a world-class education involves giving students hands-on experiences, such as participating in the South Florida Regional Science Fair. I successfully increased participation in this fair by 403% after introducing a board agenda item, significantly enhancing students’ practical learning opportunities. These areas require continued attention to support our students effectively


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