candidate for 2019 District 90 School Board
1. What motivates you to seek this office? What skills, experiences, and perspectives would you bring to the Board of Trustees, and why would those contributions be valuable to District 90? What have been your most useful resources for information about pre-secondary education?
Public education is an integral part of our social fabric. I’m a graduate of public education and realize the positive impact it can have on our kids and community. I studied economics in college and have worked in Information technology for 20 years. One of the lessons that I find myself constantly applying is the idea of opportunity cost - if we choose to pursue an initiative, then we can’t apply the same energy and money to a different initiative. I would apply opportunity cost and data-driven decision making to ensure that District 90 pursues initiatives that will have the greatest impact on our kids and community. The most useful information about the effectiveness of pre-secondary education comes from engaging parents who see on a day-to-day basis the success or failure of our schools. Through this dialogue and community engagement, we can identify and implement alternatives to address shortcomings in our current instruction, curriculum, and social programming.
2. What steps will you take to improve and expand community engagement with the District and the School Board? What is your view on how local elected officials should communicate with and respond to constituents?
To improve engagement with the community, we need to give our community options to engage. It is unrealistic to expect that neighbors that are interested in contributing to the Board must only do so in person. We need to be better at using technology that allows everyone to engage in a dialogue to allow for broader participation. There are plenty of low cost tools like Slack, group video conferencing, etc. that would allow broader participation. I believe that it is up to the elected officials to provide unbiased information in an accessible format so that our neighbors have the information to make informed opinions.
3. In what ways have you sought to better know and understand the concerns and needs of residents outside your demographic group (specifically the demographic groups of race, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status)?
I moved to this country as an immigrant and racial minority. When my family first moved here, we didn’t have much and my parents worked really hard to provide for us and always prioritized my education. When I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, I’m sure my parents were proud of me but also so proud of themselves, feeling a sense of accomplishment for all their sacrifices.
I’m a minority in this district and my children are bi-racial. My life experience makes me particularly attuned to differences, and I will fiercely protect the rights of those who are different for any reason. I understand the value of diversity, but I also understand that equally, if not more important, is inclusion. My goal is to create a true environment of inclusivity at school and to discussions this community where people are free to bring their whole selves and the value inherent to all points of view.
4. What do you think should be the three main priorities for the District over the next four years?
Be the most highly desired community in the area for families to live due to great schools
Be the most highly desired schools in the area for high quality educators to work
Leverage technology to modernize our approach to community engagement, accessing great resources already existing in our community
5. How can the District best assess the extent to which it is providing a quality education to the children of River Forest?
Standardized testing is one metric of a district’s success, but we should do more qualitative assessment on the quality of the education. A number alone does not define learning – we should engage students and parents to identify weaknesses in curriculum and instruction so that each student achieves their full potential regardless to the test.
6. If you could create a brand new elementary public school district from scratch, what would it look like?
District 90 has many of the important characteristics required for a great district. It has a community that is informed and interested in the various initiatives. It has a Board that is engaged with the teachers and the staff to cultivate a culture of inclusion and ensuring that every student is able to reach their potential. If I were to start from scratch, I would look to keep the great foundations, but would likely add air-conditioning in all the schools and have an option for school provided lunch everyday. In addition, my ideal school district would use technology to allow all interested neighbors to participate in school board meetings and get access to unbiased information.
7. What is your opinion on Universal Design for Learning?
Universal Design for Learning is a research based framework to ensure that students are presented with multiple ways to learn, demonstrate their knowledge, and engage with students. I appreciate the research based framework of UDL and agree with its high level objectives to acknowledge that all students don’t learn the same way. It is important that the Board ensures that we provide all learners equal opportunity to reach their potential. However, it is important that teachers feel supported and are prepared to embrace and faithfully implement the principles of instruction. I think we can do a better job of defining success of an UDL implementation that is beyond standardized test scores and react appropriately.
8. What is your position on providing a full-day kindergarten option in the district? What do you see as the primary benefits and challenges to providing full-day kindergarten?
I am supportive of full day kindergarten. Full day kindergarten will give our kids a good head start and also allow for enough time in the day for children to focus on improving any academic or social differences to properly prepare them for first grade. Research indicates that early education is a good predictor of future academic success. One of the primary challenges of transitioning from half-day to full-day kindergarten is the impact on resources: teachers, classroom space, and budget.
9. Beyond measuring student academic achievement through standardized testing, how should District 90 measure its progress in improving equity and inclusion?
An effective measure of success for equity and inclusion is both a combination of quantitative and qualitative metrics. A carefully designed survey will allow us to measure the impact of change over time. A well-structured multi-variant analysis will give us insights into the initiatives that we should continue to ensure that every student has the chance to reach their full potential.
10. The Board recently took a position against arming teachers/school staff. Do you agree or disagree with that position? Please explain.
I agree with not arming teachers and staff – weapons in the hands of folks is not an effective deterrent to violence. It is more appropriate for our teachers and staff to focus on providing quality instruction for our kids. It would be unreasonable for the Board to ask that teachers/staff be trained in the appropriate use and care of a weapon. We should have an emergency plan, appropriate facility procedures, and work with local police to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the students.
11. As of the drafting of this questionnaire, the current Board was poised to adopt a policy for gender inclusivity. What is your understanding of that work? Do you support gender inclusivity? Please explain.
Inclusivity is important to help ensure that all students are given the opportunity to realize their potential. It is encouraging that a committee will be formed to understand and explore the challenges regarding gender inclusivity. I would encourage the Board to look outside the school environment and consider the initiatives that have reduced barriers in the other organizations to allow for more inclusivity.
12. Please list the three largest donors to your campaign by dollar amount contributed.
Stephanie and Hui Kang
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[The above answers were supplied on 2/16/19. It may be possible to find more current financial information at the Illinois Sunshine website. Illinois Sunshine is also a useful resource for identifying past contributions by individuals to political candidates and committees in Illinois.]
Candidate Profile (WJ 3/14/19)
D90 Caucus weighs in (WJ 2/28/19)
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League of Women Voters River Forest D90 Candidate Forum (YouTube 3/21/19)
River Forest candidates face contested elections in April races (Forest Leaves 12/18/18)