I am a product and a proponent of public education: a strong school system helps create a strong community. As an educator-turned-parent, I want to bring the community's respect back to the Board, and more importantly, back to our educators and administration because I know first hand the trials and triumphs of being a teacher, and I value their knowledge and experience.
the voice of the community and regain the trust of the community in the D41 Board of Education.
I will use the annual School Perception surveys in addition to written and in-person discussions to understand the needs and desires of our constituency. I want to bring back the trust of the community that the Board of Education for D41 is making decisions in the best interest of the district, its students, and its overall success. I will take seriously when a majority of constituents supports programs and services, and make sure my votes reflect that opportunity for growth balanced with financial sustainability.
and value the knowledge and opinions of our educational and financial experts.
D41 employs amazing teachers, administrators, and academic coaches. They are hard-working, motivated, and effective. Board action should reflect the expertise of the teachers and administration, and educational research. I will seek their counsel, the related data, and follow it as it pertains to teaching and learning. I will listen to them when my action is required, and otherwise let them do the jobs to which they have dedicated their lives.
D41 employs experts in school district finances and has also formed a Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) of volunteer community members with expert financial knowledge and skill. The FAC was formed in January 2017 to help with the referendum, which was passed to secure school entrances, remove portable classrooms, repair roofs, and more. The FAC joined D41 in recommending that the Board ask for the full tax levy in December 2017. During the fall of 2018, the FAC helped the district revise its Fund Balance Policy to create a more reasonable reserves fund. However, when it came time to vote on a tax levy in December 2018, the FAC was not called upon for input, but the District again recommended that the Board adopt a full levy (2.1%). I will support enlisting the counsel of financial experts when voting on financial matters.
When matters arise that are less aligned with education, but still affect our schools and our children, I will make data-driven, research-based decisions. In November 2018, the Illinois Association of School Boards held a conference during which local school boards would vote on Resolution 2. Resolution 2, if adopted, would allow school boards local control when deciding whether to allow guns in their schools. Members of the community, including the League of Women Voters and I, as a representative of Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America, gave compelling, research-based arguments to reject this resolution. I understand gun violence, and I know that research shows that the presence of a gun doubles the risk of homicide and triples the risk of suicide in children. Despite the risk to our children's safety, the Board majority voted to adopt this resolution, but luckily it failed state-wide. I will vote to keep guns out of our schools when this resolution comes up again.
our educational investments by properly funding our programs to allow for educational growth and change for a 21st century economy.
I will support programs and services to sustain and improve education while being mindful of financial resources. It is imperative that we continue to have revenue to fund growing programs. Only about 60% of jobs our students will eventually occupy exist today. We need to be properly funded to prepare our students for a changing, shrinking 21st century world. We will always need the basics of education: reading, writing, math, science, and social sciences. But we live in a rapidly changing world, and we need to raise our children to be thoughtful problem-solvers.
I support our foreign language programs without reservation. As a psychology major, I learned a lot about how the brain develops and functions. I wrote multiple papers on the subject of language acquisition because it has always fascinated me. In November 2017, I submitted a letter to the Board on this very subject. Knowing a second language will provide our students more opportunities in the job market when they become adults.
We need to properly educate our youngest and most at-risk populations in an effort to close the achievement gap. Research indicates that a strong early childhood education pays a community back many times over when the children it serves become adults: more education, higher wages, fewer incidents of imprisonment, and a better quality of life.
I support Full Day Kindergarten in D41, and so do the vast majority of parents in our district. Most of our benchmark districts have already introduced FDK. In fact, in 2013, 77% of kindergarten aged children in the U.S. were in FDK programs. Research shows that children who attend FDK are more likely to attain early word reading in Kindergarten, which has been shown to reduce SES-related gaps in first grade. Furthermore, as an Early Childhood Educator, I understand there is more to the early school years than test scores. Early childhood best practices (includes birth to age 8) include child-centered time. Child-centered time allows the children to choose what to do with adults only there to supervise or augment their play. This time allows the children to develop their social and emotional skills. It allows them to make friends, and to learn to work with people who aren’t necessarily their friends. Since NCLB was passed, kindergarten classrooms have seen a dramatic decrease in the availability of dramatic play areas, sand and water tables, and science areas with objects to manipulate. With a FDK program, we have an opportunity to prepare our young children for the increasing academic rigors of the primary grades, as well as allow them time to develop other parts of themselves. Although, beware: they just might learn some math and science while they play! I will advocate for a developmentally appropriate Full Day Kindergarten in D41.
Many voters are not in our school system, but are a part of our community. A coveted school district helps them, too. Protecting our educational investments is related to their real estate investment: our schools attract buyers, which makes our houses more valuable. Buyers pay more and give up must-haves in a new house for a good school.