Student Concerns Over Equity – 2021 District 211 Board of Education Election Candidate Questionnaire


Gabe Classon and Maya Nayak

The Viking Logue sent out a questionnaire to all nine candidates in the District 211 Board of Education race. See all of the candidates’ responses to one of the questions below. See here for The Logue‘s full coverage of the April 6 election, including the candidates’ responses to other topics on the questionnaire.

Over the past year, district students have addressed the Board over racial equity and sexual violence concerns. Please describe how you would approach these issues if elected.

Curtis Bradley: Giving a voice to our constituents is one of the reasons I am running, and issues of racial equity and sexual violence must be dealt with by the Board. We must hold the District accountable to widening opportunity gaps in test scores and take a critical look at student student discipline practices that seem to disproportionately impact students of color. We also must take a hard look at policies aimed at safe and positive school cultures – ensuring all students feel a sense of belonging at school.

Denise Wilson: Based on information provided at the District 211 board meetings a committee/team has been directed to review/evaluate equity. Their findings will be provided to the Board, we should wait to hear their findings before making any statements.

Robi Vollkommer: The candidate did not respond to this question.

Kristen Steel: IF ONLY the D211 BoE was held by an elected majority of women….. Our view and experiences on violence, intimidation, and harassment are starkly different than the views of white males. These issues need to be a priority, right after ensuring our students are receiving an equitable opportunity for academic success. What good is a safe school that does not prepare a young adult for the next phase of their life?

Jessica Hinkle: Equity in education requires putting systems in place to ensure that every child has an equal chance for success.

At the last board meeting , during the public comment section one person brought up the inequity of the . A recent FOIA request on SAT preparation offerings. The HS with the lowest number of students on free/discounted lunch offer 85 hours of SAT prep and the HS with the highest level of students on free/discounted lunch offers 5 hours.

Once the public comment portion of the meeting ended, the administration was asked about it.
The response from the administration was … Something along the lines of we offer based off of what they’ve used in the past and the staff available.

I was saddened that the administration is aware of it and hasn’t taken action on In intil the community pushed.

Why aren’t the 85 hours offered at all schools or why not combine the resources and have them float between schools.

Rather than putting our complete focus on cultural responsiveness training, we need to broaden the training and put focus on evaluating the offerings at each school and focus on making changes to our district to reduce the inequities,

If I were elected, I would like to be more poractive I would want to set up Teacher focus groups. Have teachers from the same department across the district come together and discuss how things are done at each school and develop plans to improve the worst situations to the same level as the best situations.

I’d also think that some of the capital projects and resources available at each school should be based on the school specific data

Roxanne Wittkamp: Educational equity is providing educational tools for all student’s success. Equity and fairness must become the guiding foundation for all schools. Sexual violence is illegal and cannot be tolerated. Teachers must provide lessons and assignments in which students work together in teams to understand cultural differences and the value of teamwork. Rubrics for all assignments must be created to limit grading subjectivity, and the curriculum must be updated to include other cultures especially black and women history. The Equity team presented the equity program at the December 2020 meeting, and I support this program. The program is needed, and it is timely. As an educator, we must ensure equity with our students, and this program brings students, staff, and parents together for continuous improvement.

Anna Klimkowicz: The issue of diversity has been raised and the board directed the administration to compile feedback from the community. Students and community member input is vital to addressing diversity and we are able to begin exploring this through the D211 Equity Teams, which started at the end of October and continue to meet and discuss areas that require focus. The committee I serve on is the Equitable Practices & Mindset Committee and our areas of focus include the following categories: school culture; behavior interventions and supports; employment matters. There are amazing students that are part of this committee who have shared their experiences, observations and recommendations for the betterment of their peers and to provide equity understanding for the adults.

Sexual violence is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. As a board we have requested a report from the administration as to how this topic is discussed in school, how issues are handled and how do we go forward.

It is possible we need to spend time discussing “Erin’s Law” more in depth in health classes. Continue to work with NWCASA and with WING’s for information, materials and supports. I expect more information at the March 18th board meeting as a presentation.

Tim Mc Gowan: In regard to racial equity, I plan on introducing initiatives to enhance the curriculum. We need to diversify the curriculum to better represent and serve all students in the district. I also plan on encouraging diversity within the teaching staff for D211. Research shows that all students benefit from having diverse teachers. I am also a proponent of anti-bias training for all school staff; anyone who interacts with students should be required to complete this training.

In regard to sexual violence concerns, we need to act immediately. Students are demanding for more information to be released regarding these incidents. This data needs to be reported, tracked, and provided when requested. Teachers within schools should serve as a positive resource that students can turn to. To bridge existing information gaps, I plan to implement an education series of community workshops for parents, students, teachers, and other staff to increase awareness of the chain of command for reporting cases, the resources available at each school (i.e. Title IX coordinator), and strategies for prevention. Students deserve to feel safe and secure while in school.