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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Elgin-Area Unit 46 School Board (4-year Terms)
Family: Married, two children
Occupation: Manager for a national medical association
Education: Bachelor of Communications & Theatre Arts, Monmouth College, 1988
Civic involvement: -PTO Vice President, Channing Memorial Elementary School -U-46 Citizens Advisory Council (Special Ed and Finance Committees) -U-46 Hispanic Parent Leadership Institute
Elected offices held: None
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Accessibility and dialogue with parents and the community. This will be accomplished through regular town hall meetings and maintenance of an email and website that is independent of the district administration.
Key Issue 2
Establishment of an independent ombudsman to resolve district complaints. Parents need somewhere to turn with their concerns when all other avenues have failed. The establishment of an independent entity outside of the district administration, perhaps through a university, would allow more opportunities to resolve issues and compaints BEFORE they become so large they invite litigation.
Key Issue 3
Advocacy at the state and federal level. With oversight of the second largest school district in the state, board members should be reaching out to all the area legislators to advocate for legislation that benefits the district.
With the racial discrimination lawsuit set to wrap up as early as February, do you think the district needs to do anything differently when it comes to addressing diversity in and among the schools?
The lawsuit ruling will dictate what remedies, if any, the district must implement. Beyond that I believe the establishment of an education ombudsman, such as now exists in Washington state, would go a long way in resolving and addressing many of the issues facing the district, including diversity. In addition, I believe the district will invite less lawsuits over the long run because issues will be addressed through an independent resolution process rather than be allowed to grow into a full blown lawsuit against the district.
What do you think about the district's response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School? How is the district on safety, more generally?
I deeply appreciated the continued communication from Dr Torres following the Sandy Hook shooting, and believe those types of communiques should continue in the future. It is apparent that the district is considering and adapting their safety plans to the variety of school settings found in U-46. That said, I strongly believe we need to be doing more in the area of mental health in order to provide intervention and access to those students and district personel who may need it. At the very least, we need more Social Workers so that every school has adequate coverage and can work with teachers and parents to identify students in crisis and get them the help they need before another tragedy occurs.
What do you think about the district's progress in getting more students to take AP classes and succeed on AP exams? Do you think it's a good strategy to urge more students into those types of classes?
Setting higher expectations for students is a principle that I endorse wholeheartedly. I believe that AP classes are an excellent choice and should be part of a diverse menu of the district's offerings.
What do you think about the shift to the common core standards? How big a role do you think the board of education should play in setting the curriculum for students and what ideas do you have for changes to the current curriculum?
I believe the shift to the Common Core Standards is necessary if we want to prepare our students for the real world and our global economy. I experienced first hand the downfall that can occur when standards vary dramatically across districts or from state to state. I believe the Board of Education should ensure that the Common Core standards are being met and that the curriculum is being taught across all schools within the district. That said, I believe the board should also ensure that curriculum exists or is developed for other subject areas not currently found in the Common Core Standards, such as physical science, social studies, and the arts. What I would want the disttict to avoid is teachers having to develop their own curriculum and thereby creating a diversity in standards from school to school or even classroom to classroom.
How satisfied are you that your district is preparing students for the next stage in their lives, whether it be from elementary into high school or high school into college or full-time employment? What changes, if any, do you think need to be made?
The district is doing a good job of preparing high school students for college and the workforce through the increase in AP classes and the National Career Readiness Certificate program. I believe the district is lacking in the lower schools in preparing students to be proficient in writing. The mechanics and organizational skills of writing a paper are being left behind because of the laser focus on reading and math. But the very skill of writing is an absolute necessity for success in middle school, high school, and college. I believe changes to the elementary curriculum should include a return to the mechanics of writing a paper.