March 29, 2011 12:50PM
Office sought: District 159 Board of Education position
Name: Carrie Zakula
Address: 19641 Swanberg Lane, Mokena, Ill., 60448
Date of birth: January 30, 1954
Web site: http://web.me.com/czakula/site/welcome.html
Facebook: Carrie Zakula
Education: BS in Education
MA Ed Special Education
MA Ed Administration
Occupation, employer: Educator, School District 205
Spouse, spouse’s employer: Paul B. Zakula, retired educator
Children, age of children: Anya, 17, Katya, 12
No relatives or in-laws employed by a government agency.
I have not sought other elected offices.
I have never been arrested or charged with a crime.
I have no criminal convictions.
I have no political experience.
The two most important issues facing my constituents:
1. Quality education for children of Mokena is a priority that should not be compromised. Mokena is already the lowest cost-per-pupil in the four surrounding school districts and the fifth lowest cost-per-pupil out of the 201 Chicagoland school districts. We need to work collaboratively with our community and local businesses to explore and create supplementary strategies to assist in the economic bolstering of our schools and educational activities. We need to establish a public forum with our local politicians who represent us at the state and national level. We need to demand that our politicians are knowledgeable in school funding and the changes in No Child Left Behind. Politicians must learn what impact these laws have on OUR community and what initiatives they will support in Springfield and Washington to serve our children’s needs. They need to demonstrate initiative, credibility and accountability. Are we willing to allow our children, the next generation, to have less educational opportunities and activities than we did? Will we be the first generation responsible for taking public education backwards? Quality education requires a partnership between our local government and our school board.
2. Galvanizing the community from its present state of division and hostility. We cannot look at others outside to create a unified, viable solution to our children’s educational needs. We all must come to the table to do the best for our children. We need to set up volunteer subgroups and committees made up of interested, proactive individuals who have a willingness to improve our schools. The subcommittees would be broken down by critical elements that are essential to successful schools as outlined in my platform (http://web.me.com/czakula/Site/Welcome.html). People don’t need to be experts or authorities, just have a willingness to study, investigate and synthesize possible improvements or solutions in their respective committee areas. This type of approach builds positive school and community relationships with a common focal point for everyone involved. I have an extensive background in collegial problem solving and I am willing and able to initiate this cooperative effort.
A significant accomplishment I aspire to within the next two years:
Quality education at a reasonable price. I have a vision, a mission and a platform for providing critical elements that insure successful teaching and student achievement in our schools now and for years to come. I would like to bring a new decorum and process to being a school board member and the collective board dynamic. First, a school board candidate should represent a nonpolitical position and agenda. We need to be advocates for the biggest stakeholders concerned who do not have a vote: the students. Secondly, in the interest of parity, the board needs to work collaboratively between themselves and the community to establish transparency and integrity. This is essential in arriving at optimal decisions that foster a sense of collective consensus for all stakeholders. Present board relations have produced a polarized, divided and highly skeptical community. Thirdly, I would launch board initiatives designed to educate the community about up-to-date, relevant information, programs, trends and issues that are going to impact our youth as they ascend through their educational process and ready themselves to compete in a global economy. We need to create a public education interactive database that parents and students can access to keep them abreast of the legislation, funding and available resources in relation to these issues. Finally, I would begin to investigate and elicit all possible information and explore all avenues associated with securing federal grants that may be applicable to our schools. The qualifying criteria and the availability of federal grant monies change constantly. We need to be knowledgeable and prepared. We need to be educated to be in the right place in the right time to seize these opportunities. I have already begun networking for this initiative.
How I as a board member can create local jobs:
The only jobs I aspire to create are future jobs for the well-educated students that have come through our school system and appreciate their education enough to want to give back to their community.
My opinion on educational funding in Illinois:
In Illinois education is funded mainly through local property taxes. This has the advantage of keeping education at a local level where citizens can feel empowered and initiate change. However, it also places a burden on homeowners and creates a huge education gap between rich and poor communities. This two-tier system is not what America stands for and in the long run is not good for America. Unfortunately, instead of increased funding sources the state is penalizing Mokena by designating us a community that must bear the majority of our own school funding, thus enabling the state to fund low-income communities at a greater level. In a perfect world, the state and federal government would fund the programs they mandate as well as a large portion of general education. Then, every child could receive the quality of education that our children in Mokena receives. Until then, I would only favor state and federal funding of education if it brought other communities up to our quality. My lack of confidence in the state of Illinois causes me to prefer local control of education while lobbying the state to increase funding to all communities.
Additional issues I wish to bring to the public’s attention:
I have been extremely discouraged with the lack of ethical integrity that has been demonstrated in this campaign by the children first party and their constituency. The dissemination of the misinformation, distortion of facts, condescending insinuations and personal vilifications on myself and my husband have been regrettably unconscionable. This assault has taken place through the media as well as mass mailing and emails to community members. This has been done to discredit, scapegoat and create a sense of mistrust and apprehension about my candidacy. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but no one should be entitled to their own set of facts. As a first-time candidate for an unpaid position, I find this perturbing and disheartening. If we cannot model integrity and talk with good purpose, what moral and ethical education are we imparting to our children?