I am honored by Wednesday Journal’s endorsement of my candidacy for the District 97 school board. If elected, I will devote myself to consistently high-quality instruction through: 

1) diligently evaluating and improving what we do, 

2) actively engaging with parents and teachers for their feedback, ideas, and support of children’s learning, and 

3) mindfully investing all of the district’s resources. 

Every day in my job as a vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago, I manage budgets worth tens of millions of dollars and navigate government regulations. I use data to make decisions, keep abreast of education policy issues, and work with disparate constituencies to find common ground. In all cases, children’s well-being is the primary objective.

I recently heard a state policy-maker exclaim that she was drowning in data but had no information. Paradoxical? Perhaps, but the distinction is crucial. Data can take many forms: report card grades, minutes spent using iPads, teachers’ requests for professional development, dollars spent on facilities. 

Information is what we extract from data to answer important questions and, ideally, to guide our future actions. What practices are succeeding, what gaps require attention? By asking good questions, the board draws valuable information from data; by sharing the answers, we can engage an informed community.

In the coming years, the D97 board will hire a superintendent, confront financial uncertainty, comply with state educational mandates, and address the concerns and wishes of parents and teachers. Through thoughtful information gathering and productive partnering, I can help the board face these challenges in ways that best support student learning. 

I look forward, if elected, to applying my national expertise and local experience to helping the district achieve what every child deserves: schooling that challenges, nurtures and inspires.

Rupa Datta 

D97 school board candidate 

(On the ballot as ‘A. Rupa Datta-Nemana’)

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