Why vote for Harris for the OPRF school board?

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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There are many great reasons to vote for Gina Harris for the District 200 Board of Education. I'll name five:

1) A passion for teaching. She cares deeply about her students and values their voice. She provides professional development to other teachers and is a respected union leader. The D200 school board needs the perspective of an experienced teacher. With a wealth of knowledge about our schools, teachers are key to any serious transformation.

2) A deep commitment to racial justice. She takes leadership and action to advance equity. For the past two years, while serving on the school board's Culture, Climate, and Behavior subcommittee, she has advocated for making OPRF more welcoming, affirming, and fair for all students. As a woman of color who graduated from OPRF, and whose daughter recently graduated from OPRF, she is keenly aware of the persistent patterns of racial inequities and is deeply committed to changing them.

3) An understanding of financial stewardship. With an MBA and 15 years in the corporate sector, she has experience as a fiduciary and has managed large budgets. She's also a single mom who raised two daughters in River Forest and Oak Park and knows the realities of rising taxes, housing and college costs.

4) A bridge-builder. She is a facilitator in restorative practices and unity. Last fall, I got to work alongside Gina with a team of volunteer facilitators who led hundreds of residents in community dialogues following the American to Me viewings at the high school. She helped create the much-needed space for deep listening and learning.

5) A huge heart. She's the real deal — a genuinely down-to-earth, compassionate and loving human being who believes in, and brings out, the best in people.

One thing worth clarifying is that Gina is an elementary school teacher in Maywood, not a high school teacher at Oak Park and River Forest. Each school district has a unique and totally separate contract with its local teachers union. She won't be "sitting on both sides of the table" in contract negotiations, as some have falsely suggested. Her candidacy is completely legal and there's no conflict of interest. 

Gina is a proud union member, just like many other public employees such as our police officers, firefighters, and others working the front lines of vital community services. 

Gina Harris has the solid skills, values, and leadership that D200 needs. Please give her your support and your vote.

Terry Keleher

Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Bruce Kline  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 11:32 PM

So Gina is a proud union member? Well guess what? Me too (AFGE). But I recognize that during collective bargaining the union should be on one side of the negotiating table not on both sides. That pretty basic, don't you think?

Kline Maureen  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 11:05 PM

well we had the perspective of an experienced teacher with Steve Gevinson - - overall, I'm not sure how helpful that was.

Leslie Sutphen  

Posted: March 19th, 2019 10:57 PM

I hope she will agree to recuse herself from any Board discussions about any matters dealing with the teachers if she is elected. There is a clear conflict of interest with her role as a director of the Board of the IEA. Since the D200 Board negotiates contracts with both the faculty and the IEA, I would hope she would pledge to recuse herself from any D200 Board discussion with any issue that pertains to the teachers. However, I am not sure how effective a D200 Board member she will be if she recuses herself for these discussions.

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