Jennifer Phillips says she decided to run for the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board after working with other parents to improve math education in the schools.
Phillips, who has three sons attending Bessie Rhodes School, says she's lived in the district since 2000 and last year organized the Math Matters group which has sought to encourage using a wider range of strategies to teach math to students across the spectrum of abilities.
Here are excerpts from a statement she issued on why she's running in the Apirl 5 school board election.
I am running for school board because I believe that Evanston schools could and should be even better than they are now. We have so much to celebrate about our schools but it is not a reason for us to stop striving to be better.
My initial campaign theme is: Reaching Excellence Together. The three words work to make a message but also stand for three strands I believe are important (and hope other parents do too):
Reaching. Let’s reach in both senses of the word. Not resting on our laurels but stretching further. And reaching as in arriving at our goal destination. Let’s use the best that technology has to offer for pre-K to 8th grade education. Let’s make sure that we are innovating and improving so that Evanston schools are admired by parents across the Chicago metro area.
Excellence. What does better look like? Academic and educational excellence mean not letting the idea of students meeting state minimums on standardized tests become our collective purpose but setting goals well above the bar. I believe that implementing the new District mission ‘every child, every day, whatever it takes’ means supporting every student to achieve to his/her full potential and setting more aspirational goals for all students.
Together. For Evanston to reach higher and provide a new level of academic excellence it requires an ‘all-in’ community effort. It has to be about all students – not just those who are behind academically or those who are already excelling. It has to use fresh and different approaches to address why some students are not currently succeeding. It has to acknowledge how much farther we can get working in unison as principals, teachers, parents, and community members. In order to reach educational excellence we will need collaborative ingenuity and creative community problem-solving, especially in an age of diminishing educational resources.
I grew up in Wisconsin where my mom served on school boards in both Madison and Shorewood (a suburb of Milwaukee),
My professional career has focused on poverty and employment policy in the U.S.
From 1996 to 2009, I worked for two philanthropic institutions – The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The Joyce Foundation. President Barack Obama (then State Senator Obama) was on the Joyce Foundation board of directors during my tenure as a program officer.
I am not an educator but know how important education is to future employment and income. The predicted skills gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), as cited by employers themselves, is worth our attention.
I also serve on the board of directors of the National Skills Coalition, a national workforce advocacy organization in Washington DC. Since 2009, I have been an independent consultant working on strategic planning for foundations and non-profits.
My undergraduate degree is in political science from the University of Wisconsin Madison and my graduate degree is in public administration from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.
I am excited about the possibility of applying my personal and professional experience to continue to move our community forward as a member of the Evanston-Skokie District 65 school board.