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Eight candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for the four positions on the School District 202 Board of Education.  The RoundTable compiled a profile of each, including education, civic activities, etc., and then asked for their responses to the following: 1) State your views on the earned-honors program as it is currently implemented at Evanston Township High School. 2)  Please name two or three actions the Board could take, consistent with its goals,  that would help ETHS improve its education of all students – high-achieving, lower-achieving and those in the middle. 3) What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 202 Board?

Elena Garcia Ansani

Thumbnail Profile: Bachelors degree in interpersonal communication; National Louis University, masters in special education; National Louis University, doctoral candidate with areas of concentration in disability and equity. Moved to Evanston in 1993. Owned and operated a children’s bookstore, Elena’s Booktique, on Central Street. Adjunct education faculty at Oakton Community College, 3C Project Coordinator, National Louis University. Currently a doctoral candidate and researcher.

Civic Activities: Participated in Evanston Community Foundation’s Leadership Evanston Class XXI; member of the Race Relations Planning Committee of the Human Relations Commission of Evanston; member of the board of directors and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the McGaw Y.

Earned-Honors Program: The current earned-honors credit restructured programs (i.e., Freshman (English and History) Humanities and Freshman Biology) are instructional models designed for increasing advanced educational opportunities for traditionally under-performing student groups, along with providing new avenues for more students to take honors-level courses. ETHS aligned the curriculum to AP expectations, ACT college-readiness standards, and the Common Core State Standards.

This is also an appropriate response to address the school’s failure to meet Adequate Yearly Progress in accordance with the accountability directives outlined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Current educational policy requires ETHS to submit an improvement plan. It has done so in its restructuring implementation. Because ETHS is required to demonstrate compliance in accordance with the rules and regulations set forth by the Illinois State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education, its efforts to address the educational disparities evidenced at ETHS is aligned with a curriculum model  designed to facilitate positive outcomes for all students.

As the parent of a freshman student at ETHS, I am highly impressed with the level of rigor my student has experienced in both Freshman Biology and Freshman Humanities this year.

Possible Board Actions: With respect to Goal #4 of ETHS’s 2012-15 District Goals, which reads, “Provide consistent and stable financial stewardship assuring: excellent education and opportunity for each student …” I think it is imperative for the ETHS Chief Financial Officer and the Board of Education to begin now to plan accordingly for how both the sequestration of educational tax cuts along with the State’s proposed plan for cost-shifting unfunded pension liabilities back to the District will impact us all.

One way to continue operating as a highly efficient educational institution that meets the needs of all its students will require increased partnerships with educational institutions such as Northwestern University and Oakton Community College. Collaborative efforts are essential at this time to continue development of increased learning opportunities for students with varied interests and abilities. Engaging all students with individualized learning plans that will best prepare them for their futures must continue to be at the forefront of their educational experience at ETHS. 

Distinguishing Attributes: In June, 2013, I will have a doctoral degree in education conferred upon me. I am the only candidate with extensive knowledge of educational policy and professional experiences as an educator that range from elementary through post-secondary grade levels. I am the parent of an ETHS freshman student and a seventh-grader at Chute Middle School and will be a part of the ETHS community for the next six years. My work as an educational researcher is certainly an asset that would greatly contribute to the ETHS community at large. Finally, I believe my success within our community as an outreach liaison who fosters and promotes collaborative relationships between community organizations and members of the Latino community is indicative of my commitment to ensure equitable and accessible opportunities within Evanston are made available for all members of our society.