Anisha Ismail Patel: Candidate Profile

Arlington Heights District 25 School Board

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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. Jump to:BioQA Bio City: Arlington HeightsWebsite: www.ElectAnisha.comTwitter: sought: Arlington Heights District 25 School Board Age: 43Family: Anisha and her husband Sajid, live in Arlington Heights with their 4 children. Their girls attend District 25 schools, and their little guy can't wait to start Kindergarten in 2018.Sajid is CEO Co-Founder of an Arlington Heights based company, Optimal Design, a tech product development firm. Among other awards, the company was recognized as 2016 Best Places to Work In Illinois.Life is exciting for their half dozen. Some of the activities the kids enjoy are Tae Kwon Do, soccer, basketball and visits to the library. Their 11-year old is a service leadership blogger founder of DestinationDonation.netOccupation: EducatorEducation: Anisha is a fellow of the Harvard Global Education Think Tank. She was the Valedictorian of her graduating college class and was awarded academic merit based scholarships. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a Masters in Education Organization Leadership, with a Principalship certificate and aBachelors in Elementary Education, with middle school endorsements.Anisha is a life-long learner who enjoys pushing herself to take on new challenges and opportunities to make a positive impact.Civic involvement: Anisha is passionate about civic engagement, especially cultivating women and youth in service leadership.She launched two women's empowerment philanthropic nonprofit organizations - one in her birth city in Malawi, Africa and one in Chicago. Elected as a Community Ambassador by One Chicago, One Nation she has worked on fulfilling the mission of bringing Chicagoans of diverse backgrounds together. She is supporting the launch of WomenED US. She also served the Illinois Department of Human Rights- Education Inclusion Committee and the Illinois Global Scholar initiative. More recently, she launched The Education Conversation, an online platform highlighting diverse perspectives.Elected offices held: -Questions Answers Why are you running for this office, whether for re-election or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?As Maya Angelou said, "When you learn, teach; when you get, give." This sums up why I am running for District 25 Board of Education. My husband and I are blessed to live and work in this vibrant community with our four young children. Civic engagement is one of my core values, and I am running for school board because our students need to be prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing education landscape. Having served as a teacher, administrator, adjunct professor and consultant, I will use my expertise to ensure that we keep pushing the envelope to achieve a world class education for all our students.I truly believe in Arlington Heights School District 25 and understand the needs and capabilities of its staff and students. I have worked for this District as Curriculum Coordinator in the Department of Student Learning. I have also served as Assistant Principal at Ivy Hill School, and hope to continue my involvement by serving actively on the school board. As a parent and resident, I am deeply invested in the success of District 25 so that Arlington Heights can continue to be an excellent community. We all want what is best for our children and neighbors. Schools must meet the needs of every child, and as a mother and educator I will tirelessly support our District in realizing this vision.What do you think about the process for measuring student success in your district? Is it adequate? What changes, if any, do you propose?I believe the District has a comprehensive data-driven assessment program, and as a Board member I will support the District in continually reviewing and improving our processes to effectively measure student success. With the changing demographics of Arlington Heights, it is clear that our schools need to continue to ensure that assessments are culturally responsive. School boards must also seek expert input and parental feedback when assessment policies are being considered; our assessments should help us effectively identify and inform the development of a differentiated curriculum with the academic needs of all students in mind - including those who need gifted programs or remediation. Monitoring student progress is an essential part of good teaching. In my former role as Assistant Principal I reviewed progress reports written by our District teachers and much thought, anecdotal records and objective data is taken into consideration to give a comprehensive view of each student. Our educators are highly qualified in assessment procedures, therefore I am confident in their abilities. However, as a school board we have the responsibility to ensure we continually monitor the effectiveness of the assessment strategies used.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?Since the Board of Education serves as a forum for citizen input, their role is to evaluate and confirm that the curriculum implemented by the District educators does indeed meet the highest standards. The Board should set an expectation of excellence in teaching and learning that meets the needs of every child.District 25 is fortunate to have highly competent education professionals. They are our experts charged with the responsibility of exploring and implementing the best and most relevant curriculum options for our schools. It is because of the caliber of our educators that we have an exemplary district.My ideas for changes to the current curriculum include taking into consideration community input; and the growing diversity with over 40 languages spoken in our Arlington Heights community. Careful examination must be conducted to ensure that the best curriculum is being implemented to meet the District's mission to "cultivate innovative learners within a nurturing and collaborative community to thrive in an ever-changing world." To this extent, the Board should safeguard a curriculum that is culturally inclusive with essential global perspectives. Right now our district is faced with many demands such as improving our gifted program, establishing full-day kindergarten options, strong STEM education provisions, and growing our world language offerings. As a board member with professional expertise in education leadership, curriculum development, and teaching I vow to research solutions to these demands that will best serve the needs of every student.What budget issues will your district have to confront and what measures do you support to address them? If you believe cuts are necessary, what programs and expenses should be reduced or eliminated? On the income side, do you support any tax or fee increases?The financial stability of District 25 is important as it affects not only the education of our students, but it has a profound impact on the entire Arlington Heights community. As a School Board Member, I will represent all the taxpayers in D25 whether they have children currently attending school or not. I will take an oath to respect taxpayer interest and will follow through in this throughout my time on the Board.Fortunately, D25 has excellent financial stability. In fact, D25 continues to earn the highest financial rating from the Illinois State Board of Education. However, consistently overseeing the budget and monitoring the 5-year projections is an important duty of the Board's. Currently, 5-year projections show a declining fund balance as expenditures will begin to exceed known revenues. Though the fund balances remain at healthy levels, the declining trend will need to be addressed. Additionally, there is great uncertainty in the future of state funding of schools. Currently, the legislature is working on recreating the funding formula. There is also discussion about shifting the cost of pensions to local school districts. All of these could impact revenue amounts for D25. Any monies that are taken away will need to be replaced with local dollars or could result in changes to our District's programs. These are the realities of the times we live in, however, it is the responsibility of the Board to act in the best interest of the students and invite public input of its deliberations.What role can and should school choice play in your district? If Congress or the state approves a voucher system or other means giving students broader choices among public and private schools, how will that affect your district? What is the appropriate response for the board of education of a public school system?School choice programs are based on space availability. Since D25 is a "destination district," with parents like my husband and I flocking to live in Arlington Heights because of our schools, D25 doesn't usually have vacant seats for additional students living outside the District. If vouchers were to become state-approved systems, districts like ours would immediately lose funding because of families who already choose private education. We all know that funding cuts impact the quality of public schools, which in turn have a negative effect on property values. Funding cuts don't just impact the students who choose to stay in the District: they impact Arlington Heights as a whole. Public schools like D25 are here to serve all students within our boundaries, unlike private and parochial schools who are selective in their admittance. Keeping tax dollars in D25 will enable our schools to continue to excel and meet the needs of every child. School choice and vouchers are complicated and hotly debated topics. In being objective and open to the research, the first obligation the school board has is to ensure that the highest quality of education that the taxpayers of the district can support is right here in Arlington Heights.What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?For the sake of every student, parent and community member in Arlington Heights, including my own children who attend District 25 schools, it is essential that the Board of Education continues to work as a strong team. The board sets the tone for the entire school system and it is critical for this governing body to have an established model of collegiality and collaboration that builds confidence across the community. District 25 is outstanding because of its rich diversity. It requires dedicated individuals that bring unique perspectives to the table to meet the demands of changing demographics, finances and curriculum. With my vast experience as an educator and having had a multi-lingual upbringing in Malawi, Africa I bring that cutting edge global perspective to our District. Communities would ultimately suffer if elected boards were hindered with group-think. Instead, we should elect individuals with diverse perspectives who strive to understand issues and make difficult decisions. Solutions are not always an easy fix, but we have to work collaboratively to do what's best for our schools and our students. As a Board member, I first and foremost will stand by the welfare of our students. Their holistic success is everything.As an educator, mother, social impact entrepreneur and community organizer, I will continue to elevate our schools and make a positive impact on the Arlington Heights District 25 Board of Education.Please name one current leader who most inspires you.Justin Trudeau, as he is an educator, caring parent and global leader who promotes mutual understanding and respect.What is the biggest lesson you learned at home growing up?My mom would say to me in Gujarati, my home language, "Service is more valuable, then the individual." This has become a core value.If life gave you one do-over, what would you spend it on?I wish that I had spent more time going on walks and talking to my father who passed away at the young age of 65.What was your favorite subject in school and how did it help you in later life?Language arts as it ignited a love of writing, reading and public speaking. These skills help to amplify my efforts to make a positive impact.If you could give your children only one piece of advice, what would it be?Your character is everything.