The Wednesday Journal sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Journal’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.

Cal Davis

Name: Calvin “Cal” Davis  

Age: 54

Previous Political Experience: River Forest District 90 School Board 

Previous/Current Community Involvement: District 90 Report Card Review, 2017; District 90 Calendar Committee, 2016-2017; District 90 5-year Planning Workforce Committee; District 90 5-year Planning Committee; District 90 Inclusive Advisory Board, 2015 – Present; District 90 PTO, 2013 – present; District 90 Caucus, 2012, 2014, chair, 2016; River Forest Park District Foundation, 2017-2020; River Forest Service Club, 2017; River Forest Citizens Corps, 2017; River Forest Township – Youth Services Committee, 2015- present; River Forest Park District –Basketball Coach, 2013- present;  Cub Scouts Leadership, 2013-2015; OPRF Community Finance Committee, 2021 – present 

Occupation: Project Management Consultant

Education: Bachelor of Science, major in finance and minor in Japanese, DePaul University 

1. Do you support River Forest elementary schools adopting all-day kindergarten? 

Yes, I am in support of adopting the all-day Kindergarten in River Forest’s elementary schools.  

2. What do you believe are the strongest arguments for all-day K? 

My strongest argument: Generational Evolution. River Forest has evolved from ten years ago  where it was a town of nannies and grandparents to a place where involved working parents  want to see increased student growth and student interactions. All day Kindergarten would  provide the face-to-face interactions and actual learning that children lost during the pandemic.  All day Kindergarten in River Forest is “building a better boat”. 

3. What do you believe will be the greatest challenges if expanded kindergarten is  approved? Costs? Finding adequate staff? Facilities? 

The greatest challenge is preparing for the unknown. We can never truly prepare for the  number of students who might enroll in all-day Kindergarten classes. If there is a dramatic  increase in enrollment, although cost and facilities have been analyzed, the biggest cost would  be construction and facility additions. Given the nationwide teacher shortages, staffing is always  difficult. However, River Forest and Oak Park are destination districts, and we are hopeful that  excellent staff will continue to be acquired. 

4. With the national COVID-19 emergency declaration ending in May, what do you consider as District 90’s greatest challenges in addressing learning loss during the pandemic and the social impact of remote learning for, at least, some students? 

There has been learning loss and social impact as a result of the pandemic.  

The learning loss is an issue that will take time and cannot be rushed. Learning loss is not unique to  District 90, everyone is suffering from the results of learning loss. The good thing is that District 90  has great teachers as well as other resources to support the help, challenge, and development that children require as they thrive in the strong environments that District 90 promotes. Likewise,  District 90 will continue to promote the growth necessary to support our children’s admittance into  high schools such as LAB, Nazareth, Fenwick, St. Ignatius, and the Illinois Math and Science Academy.  

There was a social impact as a result of remote learning. Some children, not all, experienced the  disconnection from same age peers and opportunities to socially develop as children. However, the  best way to support this is to increase social opportunities for children, not the social media, give the  children cellphones type of social interactions. Face-to-face, in-person, interactions between  children and teachers. Do you know how many languages are spoken in River Forest alone? Do you  know how many clubs there are in District 90? Do you have any idea of how many events are  planned each year by the combined District 90 PTO’s? Given this information, we know that clubs  and social events are important to District 90’s children. As a result, face-to-face meetings are the  life blood of our community and one of the pillars of our school district. This makes us better  because we can communicate, and we are informed. 

5. Do you believe our children, especially by middle school, are dealing with more  concerns over mental health than in the past? What is the role of a public school system  in providing mental health services and resources to children and families? How is  District 90 performing on that front? 

Yes, there are more concerns. Why? Because children have access to phones and social media at  birth. Access to social media has created exposure to increased social pressures in early  adolescence. Regardless of the filters and monitoring, children find themselves involved in viewing  and participating in activities that rob their childhood causing increased mental health concerns.  

School is any institution at which instruction is given in a particular discipline. Why do schools exist?  Schools exist to help children learn and grow into productive adults. School provides a structured  environment in which students can explore their interests and develop skills that will be useful in  their future lives. School is now also a safe space for children to unpack their thoughts and feelings  about the world around them. School ensures that children are mentally and developmentally ready  for the real world by providing lessons which will benefit them later into adulthood.  

Over the past five years District 90 has added School Social Workers, Psychologists, and School  Nurses to the staff at all three schools. District 90 is also taking advantage of local non-for-profit programs as well as Township Youth Services to provide various resources for the children in District  90.  

6. In the radical transformation in teaching caused by COVID-19, what did District 90 learn or invent that should be retained in teaching going forward? 

I think the new learning has paved a way for students to interact more with each other in District 90.  Likewise, students can really engage with the content in ways that fit their unique learning styles.  Teachers in District 90 are creating different learning pathways which they can monitor in their small  groups and through digital feedback provided to children.

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