Charles Cush

Candidate Name: Charles Cush

Office Seeking: School District 203 School Board

Campaign Website: www.cushfor203.com

Subdivision/Neighborhood: I live in the Naper Elementary, Washington Jr High, Naperville North Attendance Area.

Closest School: I live closest to Naperville North.

Occupation and/or Professional Training: I am a Marketing Executive for a Healthcare device manufacturer. 

How long in years have you been a Naperville resident?  My family has lived in Naperville for 10½ years.

Number of school-age children? I have two daughters that are graduates from 203, but None of my children are school aged.

Service on Boards, Commissions, Task Forces, etc. with dates served (nonprofit too): 

Currently serve on the Board of Education for District 203 (since 2016)

The following answers have only been edited for formatting purposes.

1. Why are you running to serve the board of education? 

I am seeking re-election to the school board for the same reason I ran the first time, and that is because I still believe I can make a difference. I have a passion for helping others achieve their full potential. I believe that district 203 has a responsibility to provide a learning environment where every student has the opportunity to maximize their potential; and I want to continue to be part of helping fulfill that responsibility. I have two daughters who graduated from the district, and I have seen how their time as students in 203 has prepared them to be successful at the next level, and I want to provide that support to all students and their families.

2. What is the school district’s most pressing need? 

I believe recovering from the pandemic is the greatest challenge we are facing. I think that it goes a bit deeper than the lost time of instruction, and learning loss that we may see because of the lost time. To me, the pandemic exposed some challenges that have likely been present all along, but that have been masked by the fact that we are a high performing school district.  I think the greatest challenge is getting to a place where as a community can align on what is important–getting the kids back to full time instruction and doing it safely.

3. What are strengths and weaknesses, if any, of the school district’s programs dedicated toward special education students, English Language Learners (ELL), students “in the middle” and gifted students?

The District has a range of programs for special education students, ELL students as well as for gifted students and students “in the middle”.  I believe the biggest strength is that we have resources dedicated to maintaining a diverse range of program offerings and the fact that these programs are consistently evaluated and constantly evolving to meet emerging needs.  I think that is important to maintain our commitment to evaluating programs with consistent input from our parents and families to identify any gaps and design program offerings to fill those gaps.

4. Name three District 203 policies that need review or immediate attention.

I think that we need to continue to review our policies around diversity and inclusion.  We have made strides, but as our community becomes more diverse it is important that we continue to evolve.  Another area to look at pertains to student discipline and ensuring that we are not creating inequities in the impact that our disciplinary policies have on certain groups. We also need to continue to evolve our programming around remote learning.  I believe that we will always have some component of remote learning even as we return students to full time in person instruction. 

5. How often are you in touch with members of the current School Board? And how many years have you attended/watched school board meetings live or after they’re saved in the archive?

As a current member of the Board, I am in touch with my fellow board members on about a  weekly basis.  I attend all board meetings, and I will sometimes review the meeting videos to reference specific points that were raised during the meeting. 

6. What up-and-coming City of Naperville development do you think will impact School District 203 funding the most? As a board member, where would you look to make budget adjustments?

There are a number of development projects that will bring more businesses to the area The new Costco, CityGate West project and East Ogden shopping center are 3 examples of high profile projects that will impact our tax base and funding.  The biggest impact of these projects will likely be shifting the mix of tax dollars toward businesses and away from residential property owners.  If there are additional dollars available, I believe prioritize areas for funding are: early childhood education, closing achievement gaps, and providing additional support to families as we recover from the impact of the pandemic.

7. In a public relations role as a school board member, how would you orientate a new family to the school district? What engagement opportunities would you suggest for parents to connect with the school regarding volunteer activities, parent-teacher committees to oversee curriculum, etc.

My advice to a new family would be to just “Jump in”.  This district has so many opportunities for parents and families to get involved and connected.  I would start with the Home and School association at their child’s school.  I would also recommend programs like WatchDogs, and other opportunities to volunteer in the classroom, such as being a guest reader, or serving as a chaperone for a field trip. These activities are all great ways to connect with the schools and to build community.

8. Consider K-12 core curriculum to include English (reading, language arts writing), science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts (STEAM), foreign languages, computer science, civics/government/current events, economics, history, geography, physical education/health and social-emotional learning standards. If the school district were forced to eliminate a subject in order to add a new one, what would you eliminate? Any thought of what you would add at what grade level? What’s the parents’ role in monitoring curriculum changes and choices?

I would not seek to delete a subject from this list, but rather find a way to incorporate the learning more holistically.  Each of the subjects is important, and provides foundational knowledge students need to be successful.  I do believe that earlier exposure to some of technology, and the other practical applications of the sciences is an important area of focus as that can open up doors for kids and spark a future interest in these subjects and supports the building o critical thinking and problem solving skills that have broad application across a wide range of vocations.

9. Research reveals that high self-esteem and student achievement are closely related to positive parental involvement in school. Considering growing interest in school choice, home-schooling and private schools, what are your thoughts on school vouchers?

I believe in public education, and I believe that parental involvement is a critical component of the success of our schools.  I think that public education works best when we are collectively investing in our schools, not only financially, but by having access to the collective knowledge and experiences that reside within the community. I am not in favor of school vouchers, because they pull resources out of our public schools and in my opinion negatively impact the effectiveness of our public schools.

10. When was the last time you read the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights?

The last time I read the constitution and Bill of rights in their entirety was back in college as part of a history class assignment. I have recently reviewed portions of the Constitution over the past 2 years as various issues have arisen in our political climate to form my own opinion as to whether something is or is not acceptable.

11. Have you received any donations or endorsements from any organized group(s)? If so, which groups?

While I am fortunate to have the support of many individuals an groups.  I have received no money from organized groups and have not received any official endorsements.

12. Name the school teacher who most influenced you. Please include grade, school, city and state. (Parents/family are not eligible.)

The teacher that impacted me the most was my 6th grade math teacher, Terry Hill when I attended Glenwood Middle School in Glenwood, Maryland.  Mr Hill had a gift for taking tough subjects and breaking them down into smaller, simpler, easier to understand  pieces.  He made learning fun and engaging.

Anything else you’d like to add?

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