Eight candidates, including two incumbents, are vying for the four positions on the School District 202 Board of Education. The RoundTable compiled a profile of each, including education, civic activities, etc., and then asked for their responses to the following: 1) State your views on the earned-honors program as it is currently implemented at Evanston Township High School. 2) Please name two or three actions the Board could take, consistent with its goals, that would help ETHS improve its education of all students – high-achieving, lower-achieving and those in the middle. 3) What differentiates you from the other candidates for the District 202 Board?
Thumbnail Profile: Wabash College, B.A. in Russian; Indiana University, J.D. Resident of Evanston for 20 years. Executive assistant, Hon. Lee H. Hamilton, U.S. House of Representatives; director, Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran (“Iran-Contra Committee”), U.S. House of Representatives; legislative assistant and counsel, Office of the Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives; director of Legislative Analysis, Ameritech Corporation. Current occupation: attorney. Two children, one at Haven and one at ETHS.
Civic Activities: President/commissioner/coach, Evanston Baseball and Softball Association; member/president, City of Evanston Board of Ethics; coach, AYSO, founding member of board, Evanston Naturals Baseball Club.
Earned-Honors Program: I am persuaded the restructuring plan proposed by the administration was a product of solid planning based on sound academic research. Though poorly communicated prior to implementation, I believe the plan was motivated by a sincere desire to increase achievement across the board. The previous curriculum failed too many students – and not just in freshman year. Students enrolled in the least challenging freshman courses rarely broke out to participate in the rich array of courses available at ETHS – they were put on a path to mediocrity for the entirety of their high school careers and probably beyond. Change was necessary. For these reasons, I support the Board’s decision to adopt changes in Freshman Humanities and Biology. I am hopeful the plan will work – the projected outcomes for all are compelling. But if the plan does not put all students on a path toward excellence, I will demand a different approach. My judgment on success will be based on data, not on anecdote or ideology. Despite claims to the contrary, there are no data right now on which to make any rational judgment about the plan.
Possible Board Actions: ETHS must provide a pathway to success for every student, whether through college, a career/technical path or the arts. First and foremost, that requires a culture change that emphasizes high expectations for all. To facilitate success, ETHS must sustain its student supports and provide teachers the professional development resources they need. ETHS should expand the extraordinary opportunities it offers students interested in career/technical fields and strengthen partnerships with local colleges and businesses to provide advanced training and job opportunities. Finally, there must be greater coordination with D65 to ensure a seamless K-12 educational experience. The pursuit of excellence cannot begin in 9th grade. The structure of that collaboration is less important than agreeing on goals and methods. Students who enter ETHS prepared to succeed can better take advantage of a culture that will encourage and enable their success.
Distinguishing Attributes: I have spent most of my adult life engaged in public policy. While serving in Washington, D.C., I was director of the House Iran-Contra committee and counsel to the Speaker of the House. I learned how to work through complex and contentious issues to bridge disagreements and build consensus. In my 20 years in Evanston, I have been active in the community, principally working with youth. For the past 13 years, I have been a coach/commissioner/president of EBSA, which, like ETHS, mirrors the diversity of Evanston. I have seen repeatedly the generosity and dedication of kids and parents working together to help every child succeed. I’ve also learned that the best teams focus on developing all players, not just the chosen few. Finally, my older son will graduate this year. His ETHS experience informs me. My younger son is in the 7th grade headed to ETHS. His well-being motivates me. I can think of no more important way to serve them and all the children of Evanston than as a member of the District 202 School Board.