Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Previous political experience: Voter Outreach for Barack Obama (2008)
Previous community experience:
District 96 Technology Steering Committee (current)
Oak Park Concerned Citizens (2008-2011)
Board Member, Friends of Young Adult Ministry (2010 to present)
Occupation: Information Technology Project Manager
Masters of Business Administration, National-Louis University
Project Management Professional, Project Management Institute Project Management Strategy Certificate, University of Chicago Bachelor of Business Administration, Loyola University Chicago
The district has commissioned a comprehensive facilities survey as it looks to address 21st century classrooms and learning. The district has also purchased land next to Ames School. Is there a different way District 96 can provide services, for example, using buildings as grade centers versus neighborhood schools? What would be the best use for the new space at Ames?
There are many ways District 96 can provide services; however, the question is if those ways are better for the students and the District. It would be premature to say that the new space at Ames should be used a specific way without looking at the comprehensive facilities survey. The Board needs to look at the schools holistically. School enrollments are increasing and classroom sizes are getting larger. There are advantages and disadvantages to community schools versus grade centers. What might be best for one family may prove unfavorable for another. The District needs to assess what options would provide the maximal educational experiences for the students.
Do you support full-day kindergarten? If so, how can the district implement such a program?
Yes, I support full-day kindergarten if relevant data suggested that full-day kindergarten enhanced the overall student educational experience. After a comprehensive assessment, I would work with the Superintendent and other Board Members in drafting a plan on how full-day kindergarten could be instituted in our District. The plan should include input from principals, teachers, staff, and the community. It would need to weigh the added costs to the District compared to the benefits for the students. The plan would need to outline rationale for full-day kindergarten. For example, would
full-day kindergarten serve as a better bridge for students as they transition to First Grade? What additional material would be taught in full-day kindergarten that is not currently taught today? The plan would need to explore what educational deficiencies exist today that warrant the District to consider full-day kindergarten.
What’s been the impact for students from the district’s change in its 1-to-1 program, replacing MacBooks with Chromebooks? Are there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum?
The impact is that of a familiarity of the technology. Apple Computers and PCs do pretty much the same thing, just differently. Apple has invested heavily into marketing their product to appear more trendy and hip than the rival PC. Apple, because of the programs built around theor operating system, are geared toward video editing and graphic design. However, many of these video editing and graphic design programs are also available for the PC. Apple has created an image that their product is the choice for people who are looking to be unique, different, and trendy; which is a big part of what graphic design/art is all about. There is nothing wrong with wanting to convey that image; however, the job of the District is to look beyond a company’s marketing and look at how to advance the mission of the District.
The biggest difference between MacBooks and Chromebooks is cost. There is no educational benefit to using a MacBook versus a Chromebook.
The obvious answer to “are there other ways technology can be integrated into the curriculum” is “yes”. What to implement and how to implement is the larger question. Technology needs to align with the curriculum and the technology standards set by the District. Putting more technology in a classroom is not necessarily going to improve the quality of the education. The District has started a process by which software and applications are reviewed before they are implemented into the educational setting. The technology that is used in our classrooms must align with the curriculum and the technology standards for the District.
District 96’s student body is becoming more diverse, as evidenced by ELL programs at both Central and Ames schools. How should the district address that growing diversity moving forward?
Diversity means different things to different people, based on backgrounds, personal experiences, cultural contexts, and worldviews. The District needs to be cognizant, which they have demonstrated, of the growing diversity in our community.
An underlying strategy for the District should promote inclusivity in the classroom and the District. The District needs to provide all students the same high quality education regardless of their first language, learning style or ability, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. The Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS) theme of promoting respectfulness, responsibility, and safety certainly is one way of addressing diversity. To address this need of growing diversity moving forward one could begin to integrate more educational opportunities both in and out of the classroom that embraces various cultures. At the end of the day, we want to make decisions that are best for all students.
Explain your views on the relative advantage of assessments and using them to measure proficiency or growth.
Student assessment is an important part of measuring what our students have absorbed in the classroom, which in turn helps determine if interventions are needed and where improvements can be made. The assessments also assist teachers and the District in determining how well our curriculum aligns with the educational standards.
The question that the District needs to ask is; how often do students need to be assessed and what needs to be assessed? Assessments are important and are useful, but the usefulness and their importance can diminish if not used properly or overused.
The number of assessments administered by the District, in my opinion, is unwarranted. My daughter who is in the third grade at Hollywood Elementary is being tested a total of 8 times this academic year; MAP in September, January, and May; AIMSweb in September, January, and May; CoGAT in October; and PARCC in April. My other daughter who will be entering kindergarten next year will be subjected to 5 assessments. I personally feel this is excessive and takes away from learning. My daughters’ situations are not unique. Our students do not need to be tested that frequently. I believe we have excellent teachers and principals here in District 96. I wonder what their thoughts are on this matter and how frequent assessments impact their teaching? We need to find a balance to provide the District the information that is needed to ensure that students are absorbing the educational content being taught and educational standards are being met without sacrificing classroom time or experiences.
What other issues are important to you as a school board candidate? How would you advocate for them as a board member?
So much information is being thrown at schools today and we sometimes feel that we are reacting and not necessarily planning. One of my biggest concerns is student and family privacy. Long gone are the days where student records are kept in a file cabinet. Records are now online hosted by companies that have varying degrees of security in place to protect our students. Many companies openly sell/share student and family data. Joel Reidenberg, director of the Center on Law & Information Policy at Fordham Law School, responded to a question during a Congressional hearing of what information is collected on students by the time they reach graduate school; “Just think George Orwell, and take it to the nth degree. We’re in an environment of surveillance, essentially. It will be an extraordinarily rich data set of your life”. Furthermore, the federal government has mandated that every state collect a longitudinal record of students from birth/preschool onwards. Data is very powerful, especially if you have a longitudinal record of an individual. How is this data used? How is to protected? Who has access to this information? This is something that we need to be concerned with at the District. We need to make sure our student and family data is protected and used appropriately.