As a parent and volunteer in our community, I am writing to endorse Jim O’Connor for re-election to the Oak Park Elementary District 97 school board. I’ve known Jim since he first ran for the school board four years ago, and he’s been a listening ear and informed and effective advocate ever since. I trust his integrity and thoughtful good judgment.
There are four main reasons I support Jim:
Experienced: Jim has over 15 years of experience in education, with both a sophisticated understanding of the latest research and the ability to create change. As a teacher for four years, principal for six years, and now a state-level education advocate, Jim brings a deep and practical understanding of the complexity of education both locally, and at the state level. He knows firsthand the importance of hiring high-quality teachers and principals and fully supporting their development.
High standards: Jim is interested in raising expectations for all students and closing the achievement gap. As the parent of a middle school student, I see the promise of the International Baccalaureate curriculum as a way for us to increase the rigor, consistency and relevancy of our kids’ middle-school experience. Jim knows that implementation is underway and has made it a priority to help ensure that our middle schools become fully accredited by the IB program over the coming years.
Data driven: Jim is a champion of transparency and using information to improve. Our district is in its third year of offering a research-based survey of parents, students, and teachers, called the 5 Essentials. The district needs to listen deeply to its key constituencies, and this survey offers a consistent, benchmarked way for parents, students and teachers to give that feedback. Importantly, the schools that perform well on this survey are 10 times more likely to improve student achievement. Jim will make sure that our school leadership teams actually use the results of this survey data to improve.
Investment: I like that Jim is a parent of young students in our schools. He’s in it for the long haul for the benefit of every Oak Park kid.