Elena Garcia Ansani

Central Street Neighbors Association School Board Questionnaire



Elena Garcia AnsaniName: Elena Garcia Ansani

Candidate for: District 202

Voting address:
9540 Drake Ave.


Years lived in school district: 20

Campaign website: http://elenaforeths.com/

Campaign phone: 847-675-0075

E-mail address: elena@elenaforeths.com

Other websites on which you post campaign statements or positions:


Campaign Chair: Robert Ansani

Treasurer: Robert Ansani

Campaign manager or consultant(s): Gina Ramirez

Elective or appointive public or party offices previously held including dates: None

What is your primary occupation?

Doctoral Candidate/Educational Researcher

Breifly list your past civic activities. If numerous list here the five most relevant:

  • Evanston Community Foundation, Leadership Evanston Class XXI
  • City of Evanston, Race Relations Planning Committee/Human Relations Commission
  • Evanston Coalition for Latino Resources, Board of Directors
  • McGaw YMCA, Diversity & Inclusion Committee Chair
  • McGaw YMCA, Board of Directors


What subjects have you studied and what experience have you had which will be most helpful to you as you serve on the school board?

I have a Masters degree in special education and a Doctor of Education (area of specialization: Disability and Equity in Education) soon to be conferred. I have extensively studied the history of education, methods for assessment, research methodologies, and educational policies along with a minor focus of curriculum instruction and social inquiry. I believe my professional educational experiences coupled with my record for community service are criteria for a highly qualified candidate to serve the 202 Board of Education.


Please list all endorsements you have received so far.  You may also use this space if desired to indicate what you consider to be your principal base(s) of support and why you want voters to consider your endorsements or support base.

(CSNA Note: Elana provided a list of supporters which is also available on her campaign website:


Essence of Campaign. Briefly, why are you running and why should a voter give you one of his or her votes? How will electing you make a difference?

I am running for a seat on the 202 Board of Education because the future of ETHS and the Evanston community requires leaders who are visionary advocates for the promotion of positive academic youth development. I have served our community in that capacity for twenty years. I am a highly qualified candidate with extensive knowledge of educational policy and instructional best practices. I will bring diverse perspectives to the 202 decision making table which are critical factors for ensuring the democratic process is viable within the ETHS community. Voters who believe accessible and equitable educational opportunities should be afforded to all students to best prepare them for either their choice of continuing on to college or entering the workforce should vote for Elena Garcia Ansani as I will always work with others to ensure paths for success are available for all students.


Educational philosophy. American education, and sometimes that in Evanston, is variously criticized as culturally biased in favor of dominant or privileged classes or groups and their culture, as too relativistic, as too coddling and mushy, as failing to prepare students for the 21st century economy, or as failing to teach basics, among others. What principal deficit(s) in American or Evanston education do you see, and what will you do as a local Board member to address this?

I believe John Dewey’s philosophy of education provides a framework for purposeful learning in a dynamic changing world. His views on pragmatism (a practical approach for guiding action) describe the three functions of schools: 1) to prepare the child for active life in the community and world, 2) to remove features from the learning environment that had negative effects on mental processes, and 3) to provide a balanced environment for students through common subject matter. I see the program changes being implemented at ETHS as a means for providing learning opportunities that will strengthen academic development through its rigorous course offerings as exemplifying this. I am concerned about those students who are not adequately prepared to leave ETHS to either enter college or the work force with the appropriate skills they need to be successful. If elected, I would work with others to ensure viable paths for success are made available for all.


Superintendent. If elected this April, during your tenure you will have one or more opportunities to fire, hire, or extend the contract of a superintendent. What specific criteria, if any, including any quantitative performance criteria, will you use in your decision?


As a new member on the school board, I will be required to study the current evaluation criteria used by the school board to assess the performance of the superintendent annually and with respect to the superintendent’s contract. I will reference other pertinent documents such as the board’s mission, policies and district plans to assist me in evaluating the efficacy of the superintendent’s management abilities. I will regularly monitor how organizational compliance was being met by the policies set forth by the board. I would study the ETHS financial budget reports to examine how specific aspects of the organization were being maintained as they related to staff development and the evaluation or the upkeep of buildings and grounds. I will also refer to the evaluation process published by the Illinois Association of School Boards to ensure my determinations were aligned with the board’s obligation to monitor school district performance for the protection of the school district, the community and the board itself in the most collaborative and effective manner.


Expenditures. District 202's most recent posted total budget for all funds is over $72 million – which is over $23,000 per student. District median household income is less than $65,000. Is the current expenditure level necessary and sustainable?

It does appear as if these numbers are not aligned with 202’s district median household income. However, Evanston is a unique and diverse community that has always invested in its future through educational excellence. I believe the expenditure level is appropriate with respect to the costs associated with delivering an exceptional educational experience to students at ETHS. ETHS ranks in the top 20 (#17) per US News in the state of Illinois; a strong indicator of the excellence in education factors (faculty, technological resources, professional development) influencing the success of the school for its students. I believe the current expenditure level is appropriate for maintaining the standard level of educational excellence that has been associated with the history of ETHS. To sustain this level of excellence certainly requires the continued support of external funding initiatives such as the ETHS Educational Foundation and the identification and participation of new funding.


Tracking. State succinctly and specifically what ETHS should be doing the same, more of, or differently with respect to differentiated or mixed-level instruction, tracking, and the honors program, and why.

I believe accessible and equitable educational opportunities are essential factors required to promote academic and positive youth development for all students. The current earned honors credit restructured programs (i.e., freshman English and History Humanities, and freshman Biology) are an instructional model designed for increasing advanced educational opportunities for traditionally under-performing student groups and provide new avenues for more students to take honors level courses, and ultimately Advanced Placement courses. ETHS has aligned the curriculum to AP expectations, ACT college-readiness standards, and the Common Care State Standard and I perceive this to be an extraordinary example of pragmatism at work as it is certainly intentional in its efforts to address educational disparities through rigorous learning experiences. It is also an appropriate response to address the school’s failure to meet Adequate Yearly Progress in accordance with the accountability directives outlined by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.


Cost Shifting. What should the district be doing to prepare for the possibility that some or all costs of pension financing will be shifted to suburban and downstate districts, as they are for Chicago schools?

District 202 must begin to prepare itself for the eventual cost shift of teacher pension costs. Due to the current status of the State’s finances, state policy is leaning towards a portion of pension liability being shifted to the District. We should encourage all our citizens to contact their State representatives to inform them that a cost shift in the low percentage range or a cost sharing between the District and the State will be manageable at current service levels. Constituents should be encouraged to relate that any pension costs in excess of 1-2% of teacher salaries will result in draconian cuts to staff and services. The District should not be burdened with a liability it did not create. However, it is imperative the District begin now to identify revenues and cost savings that will offset the increased costs caused by a pension shift.