Jim Geldermann: 2023 Candidate for Glenbrook High School District 225 school board
Age on Election Day: 71
Occupation: Software Architect
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: I stand for citizens volunteering to serve their community. I am running as a "Good Governance" candidate, meaning I am there to represent the taxpayers and parents of the district. I am not promoting or fighting any politicized agenda. I plan to serve to ensure the district fulfills its primary mission of educating our students in the principles of citizenship, promoting student competency at grade level, guiding students to career paths that are personally fulfilling and financially responsible, and building and maintaining strong relationships among the teachers, administrators, students, and parents.
Q: What is the role of the school board in setting and monitoring curriculum?
A: The school board is the conduit for parents to express their concerns about the district's curriculum policies. The district has a responsibility above, all else, make sure that each student is competent in the core competencies at grade level. Curriculum that does not promote growth in these areas, should be examined as to its purpose and parental objection should be taken seriously.
Q: Are there curriculum issues within the district that you feel need particular attention from the board?
A: In general, the district must have a set of clear guidelines that make a distinction between education and advocacy.
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 support that all viewpoints should be expressed. My feelings on the matter are not at issue. What is at issue is whether the argument is founded in an agreed upon principle or is it being used to force a result upon the community. My training is to question all assumptions. I will ask to have the party define their issue, offer data to support the assumption, and when offering their solution give the guiding principles that they are basing it on.
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 believe using a crisis as a means to stifle debate, to cite and not question government agencies and self described experts, to demean opposition to the prevailing consensus point of view leads to dividing the community in a time when neighbors need to be assisting neighbors.
In software design, assumption is the biggest risk to successfully delivering a project. If an assumption cannot be converted to an a priori, then it is tested and retested through the whole development life-cycle. In that way, we do not lose sight of the purpose of the project.
During a crisis, good governance demands that policies need to be monitored for effectiveness, and when a policy is not performing as anticipated, it should be adjusted, or if the policy is more harmful than the crisis, a new policy should be formulated.
Another important step is the "post-mortem." Much is gained by assessing the policy's effectiveness, and lessons learned.
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: First, determine who is going to own the policy/issue and who are the key stakeholders. Second, the issue needs to be clearly defined. Third, owners of the policy/issue need to defend their position in a civil, facts based argument. Fourth, any deflection during the debate should be ruled out of order. Fifth, once a vote is taken, the minority needs not support the policy, but it must not undermine it.
Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?
A: I have actively served as a board member on important local institutions and I have been directly involved in education for many years. For 19 years I served on the associate board and full board of directors of Grant Hospital in Chicago. Currently I am a board member and treasurer of The First Step House, a men's halfway house for recovering alcoholics. I was appointed to the Illinois Cemetery Oversight Board and have been active in many volunteer organizations and local ministries. I also taught religious education for 25 years, ages ranging from 2nd grade to 8th grade.
I am an independent candidate not associated with any group. I do not have an agenda and I am not endorsed by any groups that may cause or be a direct conflict of interest.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better your district that no one is talking about yet?
A: Part of the role of the district is to impart a set of principles that we all share as citizens. A principle by its nature is a guiding star and not a destination. Principles do not suggest conformity or acquiescence. Rather principles call us to be someone more than we are. We refer to it as "living up to," which denotes that we become more than what we are.
I believe that anything that, at its core, divides us, or is detrimental to our grand experiment, should not be suppressed, but rather exposed for what it is.