Curtis Bradley: 2021 candidate for District 211 School Board
Nine candidates for three 4-year terms
Hometown: Hoffman Estates
Occupation: VP Bank Manager (Retail Banking)
Employer: BMO Harris N.A.
Civic involvement: Dist. 211 Community Engagement Committee, 2016; District 54 Foundation Committee; WYMCA in Elgin; Junior Achievement; WINGS
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you, and if so, what is it?
A. While serving on the Community Engagement Committee in 2016, I felt that we made a lot of progress with some of our initiatives as it related to the 5 year strategic plan for D211. I was also a member of School District 54's Foundations Committee for a year. After years of deliberation, working, and living in the community, I decided it is time to get more involved. I've always had a passion for developing people, from coaching sports, coaching my employees, and mentoring student athletes. I will ensure that constituents have a voice that will be listened to and respected. I would like to see the School Board more accessible by building a positive relationship with our community.
Q. How would you grade the current school board on its response to the pandemic? Why?
A. I would give them a B. The response to the pandemic by our district has been exceptional. Programs have been implemented, practically overnight, to address the needs of our students and families. These include assistance with meals, social-emotional support, community resources, and educational support, among many others. The School Board has been flexible and adaptable when making decisions to best serve our students and families. I believe the School Board needs to better address the needs is students that are struggling with the remote learning/hybrid model. Some of these students are receiving failing grades under this model of teaching. The Board needs to acknowledge this issue and find solutions that are equitable.
Q. How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A. I view my role in confronting the pandemic to include all three leadership approaches. The pandemic has been uncharted territory for all of us. My role as a School Board member is to be knowledgeable, open-minded, and make decisions that are best for our community. I will provide leadership, even if it's unpopular, when necessary. Giving a voice to our constituents is one of the reasons I am running. I will lead with respect and listen to others' opinions, even if I disagree. I have often found that I learn something new. Especially important during the pandemic, I will defer to state authorities for information and guidance.
Q. Did your district continue to adequately serve students during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to continue providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A. Our District successfully communicated information as it became available. Information on Social Services was shared by email, tweets, Facebook, phone calls and on district websites. This information included resources for food, counseling, and suggestions for dealing with the pandemic available in our community.
Our District successfully ran a meal bag program for all students at no cost for the entire school year. The COVID-19 Dashboard assured transparency and clear communication about positive cases in each school and the District as a whole. Academic Support was available every day after the regular school day. Students were able to get individual support from their teachers and other support staff. Principals and our Superintendent sent emails with the latest updates.
Q. Do you have a plan on how to safely and effectively conduct classes in the spring? What have you learned from the fall semester that you would change in the spring?
A. I believe that students learn best in the classroom setting. This can be done safely and our District has implemented safety measures at each school. Guidelines established by the CDC and ISBE should be considered when making return to in-person learning decisions. The fall semester showed that while most students have adapted to this enormous change in education, many are struggling. I would like to see more flexibility on how to address the students that find remote learning difficult. We need more support for these students.
Q. What is your position on allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic? Be specific.
A. Allowing high school sports to continue during the pandemic in a safe environment is critical to the overall well-being of all students. In addition to having the student athlete participate in a sport, provides normalcy while connecting the observing student body to belonging, school pride/spirit and virtual kinship. High school sports can flourish using and building upon the existing structure and guidelines, i.e., limited capacity, seating assignments, required mask/face coverings, and social distancing. In addition to the current protocol, incorporating the following addendums would be beneficial: allowing a set number of home and opposing team spectators to each event with separate entrances into the event leading to the corresponding spectator's side, offering limited student body tickets during a specific block of time, and providing concessions with prepackaged items and exact change/cost. These recommendations are ways to aid in the well-being of students and mitigate the risk of the pandemic.
Q. What other issues need to be addressed?
A. While assisting struggling students, I believe the District must evaluate equity. We must focus on the whole student and ensure that every student's needs are being considered when making decisions on how to best serve that student. We all have individual needs that differ from others. I would like to see flexibility and innovative solutions based on the whole child, rather than addressing the students' needs as a whole.