Latinos comprise 16 percent of the student body at Evanston Township High School and this is first year in ETHS history that a Latina — Elena Garcia Ansani — is running for the District 202 board.

With such demographics, why is Latino representation on the board so important?

Because of language and cultural barriers, the Latino community is the least visible and most institutionally underrepresented in Evanston.  As a board member of the Evanston Coalition for Latino Resources, I have heard many Evanston leaders lament this situation.  On April 9, all eligible voters in Evanston can take a giant step toward institutional Latino representation while voting for someone who will advocate for every student in the Evanston community–Elena Garcia Ansani.

Elena has the knowledge and the temperament to act as a liaison between fellow board members and the Latino community.  She will be able to articulate the Latino community’s unique and diverse needs and experiences and connect them to the school’s goal of excellence in education for all.

For example, Elena can explain to the other board members the frame of reference of many Mexican parents.  Public school teachers in Mexico often are part of a patronage system and don’t necessarily have or need educational credentials. The learning curve is daunting for Latino parents who have to scale such cultural differences.  And Mexico is only one cultural context within Evanston’s Latino community.  The community is not monolithic and Elena understands that.

In July 2010, the Public Policy Institute of California published the report, “Examining Latino Representation on California’s School Boards.”  This research underscores potential benefits of higher high school and college graduate rates as a result of increasing Latino representation on school boards.

In the June 2012 report, “Shaping Our Future,” the Chicago based Latino Policy Forum advocated for the encouragement of “racial and cultural diversity within the educator and leadership workforce (i.e. teachers, administrators, board members, elected officials, paraprofessionals….)”  School board members are key because of their far-reaching impact on school-wide policies and practices.

Voting for Elena is a win-win for all of us in Evanston.  She will advocate for excellence in education for us all.

Evanston resident Terry Soto is a facilitator and project coordinator who advocates for social justice.

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11 Comments

  1. I don’t disagree with the

    I don't disagree with the overall view that a Latino board member might be able to provide certain insights regarding particular needs of the Latino community that would be useful in serving Evanston's students.  That said, I certainly would not for for someone solely based on their race or ethnicity.  Recently, there have been too many decisions made by the board in pursuit of "equity" that were based solely on good intentions.  I'm much more interested in hearing whether Elena is a pragmatic, data-based decision maker who understands the multitude of factors that contribute to a child's development and, more importantly, understands that the role of board members is to provide oversight of the administration.  

    1. Let’s enrich the conversation

      Several commentators on here make the valid point that more than a candidate's ethnicity is important in an election.  Certainly–we should be looking at their experience, their educational background, and their ideas about key issues in educational leadership.  So read their websites, go to the forums, and talk to the candidates.  Then, VOTE!!  (Elena's website, by the way, is:  http://elenaforeths.com/Home.html)

      However, a basic principle of our democratic system is equal and fair representation.  Thus, if we can find a candidate–who is well-qualified in the ways stated above–but *also* representative of the 16% of Evanston's community that has never been reflected on the school board, this seems like an exciting opportunity!  It should also be borne in mind that being a Latina is not simply a "skin color," but also a cultural literacy and linguistic fluency that will enable Elena to better represent those hailing from Latino cultures and languages, as well as better communicate ETHS's broader educational policy to this constituency.  In other words, I think we can avoid a simple either/or polarity of either "voting for an ethnicity" or discounting this dimension altogether.  How about voting for a candidate who is extremely well-qualified and yet also has some unique experiences and abilities to fairly represent an under-represented and underperforming segment of Evanston's population?

      It's something to consider…

      1. Where does candidate Garcia Ansani stand on PEG?

        Will Ms. Garcia Ansani support a continuing relationship between D202 and PEG?  If so, why?  If not, why not?

        As a candidate cited as having unique experiences and abilities with underrepresented and underperforming segments of Evanston's population, how does she feel about PEG's teaching about the races, including the "brown" children?

      2. Look for board members that have eyes wide open for everyone!

        Don't we all have unique experiences.  Please keep in mind there are lots of differant experiences that kids have in Evanston.  I don't think you can say every Latina has the same experience.   In addition there are lots of "groups" at ETHS.  What about  sexual orientation representation,  socio-economic representation, muslim representation, etc…?

        Look at what happened yesterday at ETHS.  Somebody stomped "FAGGOT" in the snow outside the back entrance of the school!  Ask your kids how this made them feel?  Ask your kids about facebook last night?  PEG training refuses to address this -it only isolates race!!  I am reallly hurt that ETHS hasn't even notified parents regarding this incident. I have family members who have been offended by this.  ETHS talks about diversity and equity but it ignores this.

      3. PEG supporters support Elena

        I will be very interested to see where Elena stands on ETHS' usage of PEG.

        If you look at her supporter list, (see link below) many big time supporters of the program, such as current 202 board members Rachel Haymon and Martha Burns and ETHS teacher and PEG supporter who has often spoken out in favor of the program at board meetings Matt Walsh, are also supporting Elena.

        If her supporter list is any indication on where she stands on the issue, Elena will certainly NOT have my vote.

        http://elenaforeths.com/Supporters.html

  2. Candidate Garcia Ansani — do you support more $$$ paid to PEG?

    I understand that there is already a contract in place between D202 and PEG.

    I would like Candidate Garcia Ansani to answer this question:  if elected, would you support using PEG to consult with and provide any services to D202 beyond what is already required under any current contract?

    1. The responsible thing

      Since PEG has contract with the school, the responsible thing to do would be to pay it off and toss the PEG program out before any more damage is done. We should also assume that the people responsible for bringing the PEG program on-board did not know what they were doing. They should be given a reprimand on their personnel file.

      The time to correct this mistake is now, not at the end of the school year.

      1. You are so right — PEG and its teachings out of D202 now

        Let's be done with PEG.  So much damage has already been done. 

        At ETHS, here in Evanston, some races have been singled out as evil, while others have been told that the reason that they don't succeed in school is because that other race is evil and is preventing your success.  Think of how damaging these teachings are to all races and the future of our students.

        PEG:  simplistic teachings based on racism.  D202's reputation has slid considerably among potential future Wildkit parents and the D202's decision to associate with PEG and its indoctrination is a major reason. 

        We, the electorate, need to know who is on the side of our students and in favor of teaching broad-based acceptance of ALL.  No student attending ETHS should be ashamed of who he or she is based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, native language, abilities, income, background or interests.

         

  3. Don’t vote on ethnicity

    Let's pick candidates not based on the color of their skin but on the content of their character, as Dr. King advised us. Knowing that Elena Garcia Ansani is a Latina doesn't tell me any more about why she should be on the school board then knowing that Clarence Thomas is black tells me why he should be on the Supreme Court, or knowing that Hillary Clinton is white or Marco Rubio is a Latino tells me why either one of them should be President.  Let's see where all the candidates stand on the issues.

  4. Latino representation?

    From Elena's webpage, I learned that she has been a store owner in Evanston since 1993 and that she is an educator. Not sure that makes her "extremely well-qualified " or that she has "some unique experiences and abilities to fairly represent an under-represented and underperforming segment of Evanston's population" as the author states. Exploring her candidacy, I discovered that she is or has been on the YMCA Board and was strongly encouraged to run by Bill Geiger to support the work of PEG within ETHS…about which–and I mean both ETHS and PEG–she has very little knowledge. In my opinion as a Latino parent of Latino students, that is not a good fit to represent the Latino population and its plight within the system. Using her ethnicity and race to push her candidacy in the name of equal and fair representation on the Board is tokenism.

    1. Let our Latino voice be heard

      What a disgrace to your Latino background. It takes courage and commitment to want change. Let our Latino voice be heard loud and clear.

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