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?

Bill Geiger

Thumbnail Profile: Dartmouth College, B.A. in sociology. Born and raised in Evanston. After college lived in Evanston 10 years teaching at Haven Middle School and working at Evanston YMCA.  Moved from  Evanston and worked 20 years in the business sector, 10 years in small business consulting and 10 years at Steelcase Inc., including as vice president of Steelcase Financial Services Inc. managing ownership financing and transactions. President and CEO of McGaw Y in Evanston since 2003.

Civic Activities: Leadership Evanston; Evanston Youth Initiative; ETHS Distinguished Alumni Selection Committee; Rotary Club of Evanston; Advisory Boards of Senior Connections and the Delta Foundation.

Earned-Honors Program: Aligned with State Common Core Standards, the restructured Freshman Humanities and Biology curricula were designed to benefit all students, to increase the achievement of every student and erase the predictability of student achievement by race. The expectation is to “assure that high achievers are challenged at the highest level,” to provide a more challenging classroom experience for more 9th-graders, and to “raise expectations for all students.”

I have heard opinions of all kinds, many strongly held. Missing from the conversation is data to truly support an evidence-based conclusion – it’s too early. As a Board member, and prior to the findings of Dr. Figlio, I will advocate for an ongoing, regular flow of information – preliminary and non-conclusive – to inform stakeholders about the progress. Absent other substantive and compelling data, Dr. Figlio’s fall 2014 findings are expected, at this point, to provide the most comprehensive, reliable early evidence for data-driven decision making.

Possible Board Actions:  First, re-affirm the Equity and Excellence Statement and commit to the strategic directions of the District Goals 2012-15. Both provide the vision, goals, objectives, and measures for accountability for the Board and administration at ETHS.

Second, maintain a primary focus on student achievement, learning, career and job readiness, and the success of all youth. This includes assuring that there are broad-based, robust systems of support for all students, and that the outstanding teachers, administrators and staff at ETHS are recognized and their dedication celebrated.

Third, increase the focus on career and technical education programs. There is an urgent need to establish multiple pathways for students creating a broader vision for school reform; to establish an expanded role for employers at the earliest stages; and to develop systems of collective responsibility with educators, employers, government and the broader community. (Reference: “Pathways to Prosperity,” Harvard Graduate School of Education.) Highlight and support positive choices of all kinds for all students early and throughout their high school career.

Distinguishing Attributes:
  I bring a particularly strong and broad set of non-profit leadership and for-profit business skills, educational background and classroom experience, relationship-building and collaborative community leadership, as well as a deep commitment to the youth and families of our community.

Born and raised in Evanston and an ETHS (1970) and Dartmouth College graduate; a teacher at Haven and YMCA/Camp Echo leader as a young man; a successful business career including 10 years of small business consulting and 10 years with Steelcase Inc. in both domestic and international business units; most recently nine years as CEO of the McGaw YMCA; and community leadership and impact recognized by Family Focus Evanston, the Chamber of Commerce, The Chessmen Club, and Y.O.U. 

I believe I can serve the entire community, listening to and learning from a broad range of perspectives, and delivering on my desire to bring a greater sense of trust and respect to Board, administration, and community dialogues about 21st-century learning in Evanston.