Beth Pope: 2023 Candidate for Warren Township High School District 121 board member
Town: Beach Park
Age on Election Day: 48
Occupation: IDPH Long Term Care Surveyor
Employer: State of Illinois
Previous offices held: N/A
Q: Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A: I value providing excellent educational and extracurricular opportunities to every student in our district. As a child of a high school educator, I grew up in a home that valued strong public education. During the WTHS referendum campaign, some people suggested that public education should be reduced to reading, writing and arithmetic, with extracurricular activities only for students who pay for them! That is not public education. Those discussions motivated me to further my involvement with WTHS to ensure the children of this community continue to receive the highest quality education and growth opportunities.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board's role is to approve the curriculum taking into account teacher/administration input, to ensure the curriculum is aligned with the mission, vision, and goals of the district, to ensure the curriculum meets state/federal regulations, and to allocate financial resources to implement the curriculum.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: WTHS has a solid, well-balanced curriculum that serves a myriad of student interests and needs. In my experience as a WTHS parent and community member, I have been impressed with the robust curriculum set forth by the district. I commit to looking for ways to continuously improve our curriculum to meet the needs of our students.
Q: How do you view your role in confronting policy or curriculum controversies: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state authorities?
A: I believe the answer to this question should be "All Of The Above." I believe all three approaches are important when facing controversy. Following state authorities, including regulations and laws, is mandatory. School curriculum policy is based on state regulations. Other policy decisions must be made based on a data- driven, evidence-based approach. Listening to constituents is an important step in understanding what concerns are present, however policy development must be based on law, facts, and data. Leadership is what is required to distill the information and be a bridge between policies written and voices in the community.
Q: Concerns are growing regarding a new resurgence of the pandemic. If another massive outbreak of infectious disease occurs, what have we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic that will guide your decision making?
A: I work for the Illinois Department of Public Health and saw first-hand the devastating effects of the COVID- 19 outbreak. I learned that every pandemic is different, the science of a new outbreak is imperfect and evolving in real-time, and vaccine and treatment development change the course of outbreaks and public policy. There is also a difficult balance between physical and mental/emotional health during an outbreak. If another infectious disease outbreak occurs, I will make the best decisions I can based on scientific data at the time while balancing physical and mental health at each step.
Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage school district policy? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions of your school board.
A: In my role as a corporate director, I worked within groups to develop district-wide operational, human resource, and fiscal policies. In all instances I conducted and presented thorough initial research of the subjects, respectfully listened to stakeholders input and encouraged and engaged in open discussion to help formulate the policies. Working with the school board, I believe these approaches will foster teamwork, encourage communication, and bring the strongest ideas forward to create strong policies.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I developed leadership, organizational, and financial skills as a former corporate director that will be valuable as a WTHS school board member. My leadership in the WTHS referendum campaign demonstrated my passion and love for the WTHS students and community. Voters can trust that I will work hard to ensure the WTHS community receives the resources, guidance, and support it needs to continue to offer the highest quality public education.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I believe the district needs to significantly invest in licensed clinical psychologists and licensed social workers to: 1. Provide counseling support to students with mental health concerns, 2. Complete the many required evaluations such as individualized education plans (IEPs), 3. Be available for students in need so teachers can focus on academics; and, 4. Help students to cope with life stressors. School social workers and psychologists are one piece of the puzzle to reduce violence on campus and in the community.