After last night’s meeting, I want to take some time to express my belief that we need some change on the Board of Education. I have dedicated 8 years of my life to representing this District, its children and its shareholders, and while I’m not 100% comfortable writing my personal opinions about an election in an open forum, I feel I owe it to the District and the constituents who have trusted me throughout my service.
This election, I am supporting Katey Baldassano, Leonard Munson, and Matt Sheriff. These three invited me to their Meet the Candidate event—I attended, spoke with them all, and was impressed. They all have kids in District 220 schools—that is so important as a Board Member. As most of you know, Jim and I had to pull our kids from D220 schools when they stopped offering in-person learning for nearly two years. I am a mom first and so I will never regret that decision, but as a Board Member, it put me at a disadvantage. I lost my connection to and knowledge of the day-to-day activities inside and outside of the classrooms. As most of you also know, I initially filed my paperwork to run for reelection this year but withdrew my candidacy after an honest conversation with my husband and some soul-searching as to what makes a good Board Member. You need kids in the schools.
Last night at the Board Meeting the attacks on these candidates solely focused on their sources of funding. Katie Karam posted a great explanation of how the Action PAC was formed—I didn’t know a lot of this before but if you’re curious, please read about it here: https://www.facebook.com/100063817787479/posts/pfbid037ZiWPgi9UNFdCS7NobN7MiJt8RoktYbpyED4MT4fwcGnMStZ5kFNgNRDJ6ezYC1Dl/?d=n
It sounds to me that those upset with the Action PAC funding are focusing on a $6000 donation from a former Republican candidate for Governor. While this Republican does not live in Barrington, he is dating a mom in Barrington with a child at a D220 school. This doesn’t seem that notable to me, considering that our current Democratic Governor made a $500,000 donation in support of various candidates in cities where he also does not live. At the end of the day though, I think the positions of the candidates themselves are the important talking points.
In this regard, as a former teacher and current administrator, Katey fills a gap that has been missing in our Board since Joe Ruffalo left—an educator’s perspective. In our conversations, she is open-minded, well-informed, and balanced in her assessment of issues. Leonard’s connection to the District runs deep and he has volunteered as a coach (also coaching my son!), mentor, and board member on multiple District initiatives throughout the years. He is a straight shooter but he also listens and processes the way a real collaborator should. Matt is newer to the District and is (admittedly) the last person you would expect to run for office. He is a veteran and kind of shy…which is why I like him. He is not led by pride or political ambition but is experienced in safety and security and is an advocate for people with disabilities. I also want to clear up a few misstatements about these candidates—I do not believe that any of these three are looking to increase class sizes, decrease programming, ban books (more on that below) or engage in an overhaul of D220. THEY HAVE KIDS IN OUR SCHOOLS. Their motivation is to support our schools and as such, their children. These misstatements appear to be scare tactics to deter voters from believing that community members can run for office for the pure and simple reason that they love their children and community.
As to the other two new candidates, I wasn’t invited to their Meet the Candidate forums; however, both Diana Clopton and Nelda Munos also have children in D220 schools. I met and spoke with Diana Clopton after last night’s Board Meeting and she was lovely. I wish I had more time to talk to her before writing this, but we are leaving for Spring Break at 5am tomorrow.
As to the incumbents, I wasn’t invited to their Meet the Candidate forums either but I, of course, know them well after working with them for the past four years. I do not agree with Leah’s philosophies or values as a Board Member; however, I do agree with Barry on these principles. When it comes down to the votes that matter to me though—Barry and I do not align. I admire and respect Barry though and because of that, I have spent hours drafting some of my best arguments to sway him on issues such as reopening schools, relaxing masking requirements, eliminating quarantines and providing a tangible way for parents to weigh in on their childrens’ access to sexually explicit material (remember the Love Actually argument?! THE BEST!). We are so close to agreement, but yet so far–the Barrington version of RBG and Antonin Scalia.
The last matter I want to address is that of the books. We have spent more time talking about books than I ever thought I would spend as a Board Member, and it continues to resurface. I am not going to even touch the issue of whether these books should be in D220 libraries or not—if you have an opinion on this matter, it is made and I respect that. I do want to clear up a couple of untruths though.
- There are pictures circulating of the content of books that have been reviewed by both the District and BOE. Some (understandably) believe these pages and images are doctored by right-wing extremists because it is just too graphic. I have not seen any pages or images that have been doctored. They are accurate representations of the content within these publications.
- The publications in question are at the BHS library and are accessible by children ages 14-18. The author of at least one of the publications in question lists the material as ‘mature’ and suitable for audiences of 17 and above.
- The current option for parents who do not want their children to access books with content they may find too sexually explicit or objectionable is that the parent must contact the District with the name of the objectionable publication and request that their child be denied access to same. There is no listing of books with mature sexual content or an option to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ of such access.
- To my knowledge, families who do not speak English as their first language or do not have time to review publications for objectionable content really do not have any option to ascertain what publications contain mature sexual content or objectionable material.
- The BOE discussion was not about ‘banning’ books. We discussed whether certain publications are age-appropriate, whether they should be labeled as sexually explicit and whether there is a means for families to ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’ of their childrens’ access to such publications.
Thank you for reading this. I have cherished every minute of serving this community and I know I will miss it when my service is over. Please know that every person running or serving on the Board of Education puts their neck out there, puts in a ton of time and probably has a lot of sleepless nights associated with same. Please give them grace and let’s give ourselves a break from the bristling arguments that are dividing this incredibly amazing community. Jimmy and I did NOT make a mistake moving here 20 years ago. Barrington is still the best town in Illinois…and it’s going to be even better when the Bears move down the street!
Don’t forget to VOTE on April 4 and if you have any questions, please reach out!!
My very best to you all,