Four candidates are running for four positions on the District 65 School Board. While the election is not contested, the RoundTable thought it was important for the community to know a little more about the persons who will be serving on the new Board. The RoundTable compiled a thumbnail profile of each, including education, professional experience, civic activities, etc. and asked each candidate to provide a summary of three or four of their priorities. The Vision and Priorities section of the profiles that follow is in each candidate’s own words. Candidates are presented in reverse alphabetical order.
Thumbnail Profile: Stanford University, B.A. (classical studies), Yale University, Ph.D. (Renaissance Studies). ETHS graduate, moved back to Evanston 17 years ago after graduate school. Taught at the University of Maryland, Yale, George Washington and Roosevelt Universities. Four children who attend District 65 and 202.
Civic Activities: Current member of the District 65 School Board, current Chair of District 65’s Policy Committee, and current or former member of the following committees: District 65 and 202 Committee, the Inclusion Committee, the Park School Committee, and the Green Committee; formerly Dewey PTA President; has volunteered in the schools over 11 years on a regular basis as a Junior Great Books discussion leader, literary circle facilitator, and leader of a before-school writing program for K-2 children.
Vision and Priorities:
Whether the objective is closing the achievement gap, addressing the needs of special education students, or providing challenges for our more advanced learners, we must be tireless in advancing what is at the root of all our efforts – the highest possible achievement for every child. This overarching mission requires setting high expectations for all students and finding innovative ways to ensure these goals are met. We must guarantee that opportunities and services are consistent for all children throughout the District and work to ensure that differentiation is implemented effectively in every classroom.
Research suggests that academic progress in the early years is critical to boosting achievement over the long term. In our current strategic plan, we have set the goal for every child to read at grade level by third grade. We should more effectively target children who are struggling in the early grades and address particularly the issue of summer loss for children at risk. I believe we should capitalize on Foundation 65’s summer reading program and redouble our efforts to boost achievement in the early years.
We must be more data-driven when identifying interventions that are effective for our students. Although our achievement gap remains an area of concern, our most recent MAP scores indicate that students in the lower quartile are more often meeting their expected growth targets. Yet while we are boosting achievement by fourth and fifth grade, we are not necessarily holding onto our gains by the end of eighth grade. It is my hope that by looking at the data more closely, we can meet the needs of all students more effectively.
Success in high school and beyond depends upon ensuring that all our students are prepared. We must continue to increase and calibrate carefully the rigor of our middle school curriculum. For example, our middle school reading and writing program should introduce more complex texts that will better prepare students to tackle the reading required in freshman humanities at ETHS. We must adopt strategies to increase the quality of student writing, e.g. introducing critical essays in younger grades and emphasizing writing opportunities in subject areas other than language arts. We must also incorporate into the curriculum more systematically the basic skills needed for good writing by focusing on the fundamentals of grammar and spelling.
Finally, while greatly enhancing student success, our various educational initiatives, including Response to Intervention, inclusion and the new writing curriculum, have added stress to the classroom and increased teachers’ workloads. To help ensure that our teachers are not overwhelmed by these added demands, we must provide the resources they require to address the needs of every student. Co-teaching and common planning time must be available to support inclusion in every classroom. We must also keep in place supports for our struggling learners, including students with limited English proficiency and those with special needs.
In sum, we must continue to move forward with vigilance and determination to ensure that all children leave our charge having reached the full promise of their potential for achievement and success.