Sonia Williams : 2023 Candidate for for Antioch District 34 School Board (4-year term)
Age on Election Day: 53
Previous offices held: None
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: The reason I'm running for the school board is that my children graduated from Antioch schools, and now that they're all grown up, I have some time to give back to my community as I care deeply for this community and our children's educational outcomes and future.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board establishes policies and programs that create the foundation for students' academic achievement. Board members fulfill these policy responsibilities by functioning as a team that articulates and adopts a policy and selects a superintendent to implement these policies set forth by the school board.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: There's always room for improvement, but my deep concern is the fact that the Antioch school proficiency scores are showing that the Antioch kids have been failing in math, reading/ ELA for many years. We must close these educational gaps in our Antioch schools to prepare our students for the future. A well-rounded, robust quality education is a must. Our most vulnerable children with disabilities have taken the worse hit. We must ensure that our children are given a free and appropriate education.
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 in parental rights and involvement in their child's classrooms; parents are part of the decision-making process. Transparency and collaboration between parents, teachers, administrators, and the school board will rebuild trust in our community. When we have good communication and trust, we can resolve any controversies.
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: We learned that keeping children at home was not the best decision as students have suffered a significant education and emotional gap. My decision guide will be to look at the science, follow any statutes, and collaborate with parents, teachers, administrators, and other school board members to put policies in place best to serve our schools and the community.
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: I'm a parent who dealt with special education thru-out my children's school career and attended meetings to advocate for my children's educational rights and to collaborate with the school administrators/teachers to develop appropriate services for my children. I also volunteered for a short period at an orphanage/school where I was a part of the decision-making team and attended meetings with the school administrators to help draft IEPs and advocate for appropriate education for the children. My job was to read the children's files and educational gaps and prepare for my part in supporting the team and collaborating on appropriate services for each child. I believe this experience and working with a group of administrators and teachers for many years throughout my children's school career will make me an asset to my school board because I understand the importance of being prepared, not always getting what you want, and negotiating to obtain the best outcome.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I have been in leadership positions in my career due to my leadership skills; I understand the importance of negotiation and collaboration with my team. I've studied on my own time special education law and used these statutes to negotiate appropriate education for my children, and I plan on doing the same for all of Districts 34 children as well. I see the need to fill the educational gaps within our district and will work tirelessly to fill those gaps.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: I want to begin my service to the schools and community with a mindset that the community will be equal partners with the school. My goal is to have a solid school-community relationship. In addition, schools should tap into the values and strengths that the outside parties bring to the table. I want to set up a community resource map. By creating a resource map, you'll get to know what services or materials people can advance to your school for free or at an agreeable cost.