Wednesday Journal has kindly given candidates space to ask for your vote for the District 200 school board on April 9. Here’s my pitch:

My unique background gives me special qualifications. I have extensive experience as a faculty and administration leader at OPRF High School — as a teacher in both public and private high schools, in universities, and internationally; as a writer of corporate training and marketing material, and co-author of two books on teaching; as a contract negotiator in both the school and the private sector; and as an Internet entrepreneur. Learn more about my background here:

As a parent of two OPRF alumni and a current junior, and as a 30-year resident of Oak Park with intimate knowledge of the high school, I understand well the place of the school in the community. Simply put, people move to our district and stay here for two main reasons: our proximity to the city and the quality of the public schools. We do not want to see a day when the only reason to be here is proximity to the city.

I see three interrelated tasks for keeping the high school strong: maintaining academic excellence, addressing equity issues more effectively, and staying financially healthy. The key challenge for a board member, then, is to maintain and improve educational quality without overburdening taxpayers.

Everyone knows that academic excellence is a long, proud tradition at OPRF, but such excellence is now under stress. Class size is at its highest level ever; new hiring rules disqualify some excellent teachers; new retention guidelines mean great teachers can be cut; and the onslaught of the standardized testing movement can compromise the best humanistic learning. For more detail, see:

While OPRF has made great progress on equity and diversity matters in the last 20-25 years, much remains to be done. The achievement gap is still wide; too many students still under-perform, and too many remain at serious risk. The school’s most promising approaches have involved establishing positive relationships between adults (especially teachers) and students, engaging students in activities such as Spoken Word Poetry to increase investment and agency in their student work, and effectively addressing skill and knowledge deficits in the classroom. I am proud of my role in these efforts, which you can learn about at: But equity efforts must be increased.

These academic challenges can put great pressure on finances, and new future pressures threaten: significant enrollment increases, health insurance costs continuing to exceed CPI, contributions to early childhood initiatives, and additional pension costs. Fortunately, with substantial cash reserves, the district is on its best financial footing in memory, especially impressive in an era of tax caps. The board’s challenge is to meet fiscal demands as long as possible without increasing taxes annually beyond CPI. Smart, creative decision making is key. See my additional thoughts on fiscal responsibility:

A vote for me is a vote for the excellent comprehensive public high school expected by our supportive, caring, creative community.

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