I'm a resident of Western Springs, father of two young boys, and husband of a teacher. For the past two years, I've steadily attended Lyons Township High School board meetings. In 2019, I organized community members to speak to LT's school board about the need for air conditioning at both campuses which resulted in a commitment to cool one wing. In 2020, I shifted focus to working with Belonging & Equity at LT, a community awareness group focused on reducing the achievement gap through belonging and equity measures. I also serve on my synagogue's Board of Directors where I've participated in tough debates and votes around reopening, building safety, and finances to name a few.
By trade, I'm an Analytics & Insights Manager for a distribution company in Cicero. I plan to use my background in data (University of Illinois MBA + 8 years professional experience) to guide my policy recommendations. I'm also a young Latino who grew up in a poor household; my first-hand experiences can add perspective to equity and race related issues.
Why I'm Running
I'm running for District 204 School Board because I want to be a strong voice for equity in achievement and advocate for access to opportunity.
Belonging & Equity
Lyons Township High School has a diverse student population (~28% non-white) but lacks racial equity. There is an immense achievement gap/education debt (37 – 55 pt gap comparing Latinx & Black students to White students). While working with Belonging and Equity at LT, I researched K-12 racial equity plans and led a group in speaking at a school board meeting to ask for action. The next school board should re-evaluate the current equity plan and consider passing a resolution which could increase access to data and create measurable goals to aid in belonging and equity of all students.
In the hottest school months, classrooms at Lyons Township High School exceed 90 degrees, resulting in students fainting and statistically reducing student learning capacity. I organized community support at consecutive board meetings which resulted in a commitment, yet to be realized, for one school wing to be air conditioned. I plan to work with the facilities committee to develop a long-term plan ahead of the 2023 bond issuance to improve the school's interior and ensure the board keeps its promises.
Social Emotional Health
Lyons Township High School has a low counselor to student ratio, and it will be important to re-evaluate this ratio - especially as our children re-enter the school from the pandemic. I also want to evaluate the assignment of intervention counselors for students transitioning from middle school who may be in need of additional supports, as reflected in supporting data. There is consistent community support for investment in this area that has been amplified during the pandemic - the incoming board has an obligation to meet this moment with a progressive plan.
At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Lyons Township High School will launch a 1:1 laptop program at both campuses for all students. Considering the history of connectivity issues and connection speeds, I would like to work with administration to ensure these tools will be fully operational from day one anywhere on campus with adequate access to networks as needed. I also believe in increasing transparency with the School Board by providing greater access to school board meetings, starting with functional video and audio for meeting broadcasts.
I believe the School Board needs to further evaluate the new grading system by asking the district for better access to data, allowing us to accurately assess its successes or opportunities. Student behaviors such as preparation and participation are no longer included in the achievement grade. This was designed to lead to success for a wider range of students, but the transition in year one has been challenging for students who are earning lower marks and for teachers expected to provide personal narratives for student's process marks.
While the School Board doesn't decide whether students are in-person or remote, once the decision is made the board should weigh in on safety considerations, evaluate viability of substitute and teacher numbers for in-person education, and research challenges and successes from neighboring districts. In time, this school board will also be responsible for leading our school out of the pandemic. Having a data-driven perspective is critical when weighing the probability of success with each option and I believe I can aid the board in providing context to the numbers that need to be evaluated.
How To Help
Support Ricardo's run for District 204 school board. Every contribution helps us reach voters via yard signs, door hanger advertisements, social media advertisements, and potentially direct mailers. Click the Donate Today button to send a secure contribution.
Campaigning in 2021 will be a unique challenge, and I can't do this without you. If you believe that I would be a great addition to the D204 school board, contact me to ask for a yard sign, to volunteer to distribute literature, or to host a Zoom meet and greet!