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.
Name: Jung Kim
Previous Political Experience: current president, Oak Park Elementary D97 School Board
Previous/Current Community Involvement: PTO; Div-Co, Unity Temple; various local Asian American organizations
Occupation: Professor of literacy
Education: B.A. in English with secondary education minor; M.Ed. Literacy, Language, and Culture; Ph.D. Curriculum and Instruction
1. Why are you running for the Oak Park District 97 school board?
A significant amount of my tenure on the board was during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the work of navigating the district through the height of the pandemic was important, it overshadowed some other issues, like a deep and impactful engagement with the equity policy. With the hiring of a full-time, permanent superintendent focused on equity, I feel we are at a place now where we can really pursue advancements in equity and achievement in the district, and I want to be part of that process.
2. What experience and perspectives would you bring to the position and how would they be valuable as an elected official?
As a former teacher and current teacher educator and researcher, I feel that I bring both a local and national understanding of education to the position. Between the so-called CRT bans, book challenges, and demands for scripted curricula, public education is currently under attack in this country. As someone whose work straddles many of these arenas, I feel that I am particularly well situated to help navigate the board/district in these tumultuous times. Having been on the board for one term already, I also bring a sense of continuity, my experiences from the last four years, and the ability to push the work forward. I also try to be reflective as a board member and work collaboratively with my colleagues, something that is important for a unified group.
3. What do you believe are some of the greatest challenges facing the district?
Because of the pandemic and disruptions in district leadership, the last several years have been about keeping our heads above water. With the hiring of a new superintendent and emerging out of the crisis of the pandemic, there is now a great opportunity for change and growth within the district. With all of the losses from COVID and the continuing disparities in academic outcomes for historically marginalized groups, there is much work to be done in truly making D97 a district that works for equity. Change is hard, though, particularly with calls for a “return to normal,” which ignores that normal was not working for many people. In addition, the ongoing economic challenges of inflation and the impending teacher shortages compound the difficulties of a district trying to move “the work” forward. I have faith, though, that this district and community can rise to the challenge.