Previous elected experience: None
Previous community experience: I have been a commissioner with the Village of Oak Park Community Relations Commission (since 2016), Longfellow Diversity Committee (since summer 2018), Suburban Unity Alliance (board member), Founding member of Parent Advisory Committee at ABC Toon Town and worked closely with D97, CEEE and A.P.P.L.E and Neighbors Knowing Neighbors, on a number of projects
Occupation: Talent Acquisition Manager at Destiny Dental Care
Education: Masters in Public Administration from DePaul University and Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Arts & Sciences (Political Science) from Clark Atlanta University
Do you believe that race is the primary predictor of student outcomes in District 97? Please expound.
Yes, I believe that the race of a student is the primary predictor of student outcomes in District 97. Despite the presence of several families of color in the District that have access to resources which have allowed their child(ren) to excel academically, students of color continue to face implicit biases from their teachers, administrators and community members based on their race. These biases impact the social, emotional and mental spaces that children of color experience daily which ultimately play a pivotal role in their overall experience as a student in the District. For example, students of color are less likely to be recommended for advanced placement courses but more likely to be disciplined for the same infractions as their white peers. In many cases the only difference between these students is the color of their skin.
White students are statistically viewed by their teachers, administrators and community as less likely to have behavioral issues but more likely to be superior to students of color academically.
These biases based on race directly contribute to student outcomes.
It is likely that if you're elected to the board, there will already have been a racial equity policy in place. What are your thoughts on a racial equity policy? Do you believe that it is necessary to ensure that race is not a predictor of student outcomes (assuming you believe this is the case)? And if so, how would you ensure that the racial equity policy is effectively implemented?
I support a racial equity policy but feel that the current version needs additional stakeholder support to ensure that it meets the needs of all students. In order for any policy to work, there must be achievable metrics and goals to measure success and determine if the stated goals are being achieved. If elected, I intend to continue research on other districts that have similar demographics as D97 that have experienced success with improving the opportunity gap and implementing restorative justice practices. Additionally, I will solicit on-going feedback from families and teachers to learn if they feel it is effective.
Do you believe that the district's Gifted, Talented and Differentiation (GTD) program needs to be reformed? If so, what reforms do you have in mind for the program?
Absolutely , the current program as it exist now is inconsistent in terms of how students are identified, referred and how information is disseminated to families. In the 2017-2018 academic year, the district identified over 200 students qualified for GTD , however families were never provided with the option. Additionally, the current program perpetuates segregation models of learning in which students interpret their abilities based on groupings. I would advocate for empowering teachers across the district to be able to create differentiated instruction for their grade level which would accommodate ongoing assessment of students and more engagement in the classroom.
Do you believe that the D97 school board is a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars? If so, in what ways? If you don't believe this, what changes will you advocate on the board to make it so?
Yes, I believe that the D97 school board has a responsibility to the the community to ensure that we remain committed to providing a equitable and inclusive community which includes families of all income levels. This means that board members must be steadfast in spending only when necessary and only when it has been thoroughly researched and vetted by our community. Although it is extremely challenging to meet the needs/desires of all residents, we must be vigilant in how programs are created and evaluated so that low-come and middle income families are not priced out .
Do you believe that the D97 board adequately incorporates the voices of people most likely to be impacted by its decisions (i.e., students, teachers, faculty and staff) into its decision-making process? If not, what are some ways that the board can more adequately incorporate these voices into its decision-making process?
No, I do not believe that the D97 board adequately incorporates the voices of people most likely to be impacted by its decisions. There are several ways that the board could increase engagement with the people most likely impacted including streaming board meetings, creating a culture which encourages honest feedback from teachers so that they feel comfortable speaking up about the issues that impact them and finally, creating a culture that empowers families to advocate for their students, including interactions with the board.
Some school buildings in D97 are experiencing severe overcrowding. Do you believe that the board has adequately addressed this issue? If not, what ideas will you bring to the board to address this issue?
I do believe that the board has adequately addressed the issue, however if I were elected I would aim to continue the conversation so that community members are kept in the loop about the status of expansion projects and potential plans for expansion the future. I strongly believe that the lack of transparency is what has made many community members skeptical of the board and administration. While I don't believe that the board is intentionally withholding information, I believe the opportunity to provide as much information as possible would benefit the board/administration.
Answer Book 2018
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.
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