Yes, there are elections coming up this November — governor, state house & senate, and so on. Some readers may be active in campaigning for the candidate of their choice, others may believe that in Illinois, re-election of incumbents is a foreordained conclusion.
But fall is also nominating petition season for the spring 2023 election for school boards across the state, and concerned parents are looking to support candidates who will challenge the “Supporters of District 214” slate, which, as a reminder, wholly controls the school board, operates behind the scenes, runs their campaign based on union money (even while negotiating union contracts!), and has shown no willingness to engage with parents or respond to their concerns. They have also signed on to the district’s “progressive” plans, including removing honors classes and undertaking so-called “equity grading” and “restorative justice” (under which fights and disruptive behavior doubled in the first return-to-school semester). They have also given permission for the district to contract with a company owned by the superintendent without any public or even FOIA-able documentation of their approval. They promote the district as “one of the best in the country” but ethnic-minority and low-income students, at some district schools, have test scores at or below average, when compared to their corresponding demographic group statewide, and test scores in the district dropped 20% over the past 4 years. In addition, even respondents in the recent Equity Audit pointed to the failure of the district to provide data that helps understand these disparities.
Concerned parents believe it is time for a change. While they do not feel equipped to run for school board themselves, for various reasons (fear of retaliation for their children, personal/family obligations, etc.) they are looking to give their support, financially and with their time, to candidates who they believe would be a better choice for the district.
Here’s what they are looking for: Candidates should commit to a term on the school board in which they
- Engage in active oversight of district administrative staff decisions rather than taking them at their word;
- Make decisions about key issues regarding curriculum and school policies in public rather than behind closed doors, and share that information with the community rather than hiding behind FOIA exemptions;
- Have children who are actually in District schools who will experience the effects, good or bad, of District policies;
- Support the highest levels of integrity and honesty, who believe that integrity and ethics mean a higher standard than merely “not violating the law”;
- Engage with parents respectfully, take their concerns seriously, and work with them to resolve them rather than ignoring them;
- Seek to resolve issues of racial/ethnic disparities without jumping on the latest fads like “grading for equity,” “earned honors,” or “restorative justice,” but insist on concrete evidence that proposed changes will actually be successful and will promote real learning rather than just superficial equality and will not disadvantage other kids in the process; and
- Respect community norms and keep gender ideology and progressive politics out of the classroom.
It would be an added plus to find candidates who have ties to the parts of the District which are generally not represented — in particular, the low-income and immigrant communities.
If you are such a candidate, have been thinking about these issues, or know someone who is willing to jump in —
Please reach out to these parents via the contact e-mail for this website, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the “contact” form!