Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey the Wednesday Journal sent out to all D90 candidates running in this year's elections. Candidates full, unedited responses are printed.
Previous elected experience: N/A
Previous community experience: Current Co-Treasurer Lincoln School PTO, RFYS coach
Occupation: Enterprise Architect
Education: University of Chicago, BA in Economics with General Honors, 2001
1) Why are you running?
Public education is an integral part of our social fabric. I'm a graduate of public education and realize the positive impact it can have on our kids and community. I studied economics in college and have worked in Information Technology for 20 years. Reflecting on my experiences many decades ago, I realize now that decisions a school board makes can have a profound impact on each student's ability to reach their full potential and the community's involvement with the schools. As a father of twin seven year old boys, I will stay informed about the curriculum, instruction, and programming decisions that are made in the district. Living in River Forest, we are fortunate to have a community that is well-informed and interested in participating in the future of our schools. I would like to volunteer the skills that I have acquire to enable a broad participation of ideas from our community to make the best informed decisions to benefit every student in the district. Through this dialogue and community engagement, we can identify and implement solutions to address shortcomings in our current instruction, curriculum, and social programming to have the best school district in the area.
2) River Forest District 90 schools have adopted several equity initiatives over the past few years. What do you think of this work?
I applaud the Board's effort to ensure equitable opportunities for everyone in the district. I'm encouraged that we are looking for gaps in our district to allow every student the ability to reach their maximum potential through providing the right training, development, and learning opportunities for all parties. However, I think the Board can do more to provide transparent information to the community so that these initiatives along with others can be understood comprehensively as part of the district's larger goals.
3) How would you describe D90's relationship to the community? What does the board currently do to engage residents and what more, if anything, do you believe should be done?
It's evident that Board can do more to engage the community - there is incomplete information that is actively shared amongst community members. I believe it's up to the
Board to provide transparent, easy to digest information so that everyone in the community is forming their own informed opinions on the issues facing the district and having honest conversations. When equal access to clear information is available, the dialogue can be more productive resulting in a better outcome for everyone.
4) Staff at Roosevelt Middle School are tweaking a block schedule that's current iteration would add math minutes, at the expense of foreign language time for students. What do you think of this measure?
The need for more instructional math minutes is clear - the teachers have spoken and the curriculum assumes it. However, the lack of transparency of how the school and the Board concluded that foreign language was the optional subject is problematic. This is an
optimization problem with a few constraints - 60 math minutes, every child needs a classroom, minimize transition time. If we were to apply optimization theories and perform simulations, then there might be a better alternative that could preserve foreign language in the middle school. I would want the opportunity to understand the full scope of the constraints and benefits to explore an alternative schedule that would have broader community support without sacrificing foreign languages.
The D90 board voted to postpone implementation of a schedule change at a regular meeting on March 5.
5) What do you think about standardized (PARCC) test scores and academic performance at schools in District 90? What areas do you believe could be improved and what action can the school board take to help improve student achievement?
Standardized testing is one mechanism to measure the academic performance of a school district - however, successful school districts should not teach for a test nor should it be measured by a number alone. While District 90 has some regressions in the PARCC test scores recently, it does not justify radical changes to instruction and curriculum. We can incrementally use technology effectively to create a more engaging learning experience. For example, are we using any gamification techniques that would encourage students to engage with topics more deeply and spend more time on topic? Also, I believe that we need to engage the community for improvement ideas. I don't have all the answers, but I'm willing to spend time to learn about options from everyone.
6) What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
Besides academic excellence, I'm interested in making sure that the Board is considering how instruction, curriculum, and social programming combined contributes to the development of the whole child. I would apply a pragmatic, data-driven decision making to evaluate each initiative in the context of how it contributes to the development of the whole child. In addition, I would like to see the Board leverage technology to allow broader community engagement so that we have more perspectives in the decision making process. Technology will play an integral role in our children's future - I would advocate that we ensure our children are ready for this future. I will use my industry knowledge and experience to make informed decisions regarding technology opportunities for the district and our children
Answer Book 2018
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.
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