Equity and excellence do not happen because of a written commitment. Words must match deeds and deeds must track to goals. It takes strategic, focused, and goal-oriented leaders who desire to see historical education gaps close on their watch, not some elusive day.

This is why I hope you will join me in supporting Venus Hurd Johnson for District 97 school board. The election is April 6.

From the board table to the superintendent to teachers, leadership matters. An exceptional, diverse team must be assembled. This group of leaders must work together with their primary focus being the students — and their outcomes academically, socially and emotionally.

Venus and I moved to Oak Park around the same time 16 years ago and have children, including Black sons who are the same age. Venus has always had an intuitive not theoretical understanding of why equity and excellence are paramount in D97.

Oak Park is a unique community. It is one of the few in the country where there are large numbers of Black children who live in homes, apartments, and condos right next door to children of other racial backgrounds, and yet — when income is held constant — achievement and discipline gaps persist. Venus, like me, has always found this troubling at best.

And this is why we need Venus on the D97 school board. She has personally experienced and seen that equity and excellence, including Black excellence, can be the norm not the exception. In her time as co-PTO president at Mann, she brought a focus on academic achievement in math by piloting a rigorous summer program. Around the same time, she also co-led the creation of the district-wide Diversity Committee, which has representation from every school. Now she leads the PTO Council, made up of all of the PTO presidents. In every leadership role, her efforts have led to major progress when it comes to equity and excellence.

Neither race nor income should be the predictors of success. Venus believes this at her core. So do I and if you do as well, Venus will become a D97 school board member.

Aimée Eubanks Davis
D97 parent, former co-PTO President at Mann
Current auxiliary member of the PTOC

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