Jonathan Baum

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Thumbnail Profile:  ETHS graduate, 1974; B.A, Harvard University; .J.D., University of Chicago. Attorney, director of pro bono services.  Evanston native. Four children: three attended Kingsley, Haven, ETHS; one attended Roycemore and is currently at ETHS.

Civic Activities:  District 65 School Board member (2003-2007); District 202 School Board (2011-present); Evanston Human Relations Commission; more than 20 years, Youth Organizations Umbrella Board.

Top Three Priorities: Mr. Baum says his top three priorities are to “1) continue to promote equity and excellence for each ETHS student,  2) continue efforts to bring Districts 65 and 202 together as one learning community, and 3) enhance individualized guidance for every ETHS student.

Two Major Decisions of the Board You Agree/Disagree With: “In 2012 it was proposed that elements of the freshman restructuring be extended to the sophomore year without waiting for the results of the evaluation the Board insisted on – to see if the freshman year changes actually worked,” says Mr. Baum. “The Board declined to approve the extension, demonstrating its strong commitment to data-driven decision-making.”

Mr. Baum supports “the decision of the Board, and of the District 65 Board, to adopt an unprecedented joint literacy goal, calling for ‘backmapping’ specific college and career readiness marks from 12th grade back all the way to kindergarten is profoundly important, both because it underscored our commitment to forge the two Districts into one learning community, and because the data to be gathered is an essential tool to diminish the  achievement gap and ensure that all our students achieve their full academic potential.”

How You Will Enhance Student Achievement: “I will contribute toward enhancing student achievement primarily by securing readoption in our 2015-18 District Goals of the goal I successfully advocated for inclusion of in our 2012-15 District Goals: ‘Increase each student’s  academic trajectory as demonstrated through multiple measures,’ and by vigorously monitoring our progress toward that goal,” says Mr. Baum. “I will also push for systematic evaluation of the programs we have in place for enhancing  student achievement. Evaluation will enable us to expand those programs that have been proven to work and to fix or replace those that have not. I will continue to push for increased collaboration in preparing District 65 students for District 202, which is essential for enhancing student achievement.

“The District should address the needs of students in the top and bottom quartiles of the  achievement spectrum the same way it should address the needs of students across the achievement spectrum:  by focusing on each student as an individual, identifying each student’s unique talents, deficits, aspirations, and circumstances and providing the instruction and supports necessary for that student to achieve his or her full potential.

“Given the critical role of families, we must be as committed to helping them achieve their full potential in supporting their children’s education as we are to helping their children achieve their full potential. One is essential to the other.”

“Standardized testing should have a role – but hardly the exclusive role – in assessing students,  teachers and instructional methods. While standardized tests have their limitations, it is essential to have an
external measure, along with the internal ones, of the success of our instructional efforts. Specifically with regard to teachers, any system for assessing their performance must be developed with their full participation and reflect their buy-in. Any assessment system that does not have this is doomed to failure. Finally, in order to avoid the  burden of excessive testing, we should strive to use standardized tests that serve multiple purposes: not only providing a measure for the State to rate our school and its students, but, more importantly, to improve instruction and aid our students in college admission and placement.”

How You Will Influence Fiscal Efficiencies:  “I will seek to institute a system of regular, periodic evaluations of all District programs to make sure that we are getting the maximum bang for our buck. Achievement of economies of scale through sharing of services with District 65 should also bring greater efficiencies,” says Mr. Baum. “Safety, instruction, and guidance/support, should be the budget priorities. “Maintaining a safe environment at the school is a prerequisite for everything else we do. Instruction is the heart of what we do. And guidance and support are essential for our students to take full advantage of the instruction we provide.”

Preparation of Candidate Information

In the April 7 election, three seats will be filled on the District 65 School Board and on the District 202 School Board.

Omar Brown, Jennifer Phillips and Richard Rykhus are seeking a seat on the District 65 Board. Adrian Dortch is seeking a seat on both the District 65 and 202 Boards. Larry Gavin prepared the profiles of these candidates.

In addition to Mr. Dortch, Jonathan Baum, Mark Metz, Monique Parsons and Anne Sills are seeking a position on the District 202 Board. Kelley Elwood prepared the profiles of these four candidates.

The profiles were compiled based primarily on each candidate’s answers to five of 13 questions contained in a PTA Council Questionnaire.

Each candidate’s complete answers to the questionnaire are available in the “Election” section of the RoundTable’s online site at, and also at the PTA Council’s website, Videos of candidate forums sponsored by the PTA Council, the Evanston League of Women Voters and ETHS Parents Engaged are also available on these sites.