The Voice Of Community in District 207

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of Rockton-Roscoe News management or staff.

What is the function of a school board? According to the IASB (Illinois Association Of School Boards) web page, the function of a school board is: “to provide local citizen control over public education representing the community and its aspirations for local schools.”

I have sat through nearly 2 years of monthly school board meetings now. As a mother of 2 sons in the district (and a 3rd that graduated during the pandemic) I have a vested interest in “the local control of public education”. As a teacher in a local private school, a local private teacher and a 14 year homeschooling veteran, I have a passion for educating children and adolescents in a way that prepares them, not just for the opportunities in this culture, but in equipping them to face and bring help to the struggles of the distressed world around them.

Nearly 3 years ago we entered a pandemic. My three sons were beginning only their 2nd year in the public education system. I was frightened and distressed like everyone else. I attempted to remove my boys from the system in order to protect them from not just what I saw happening in the school but from “the unknown” we were all facing at that time. Due to a recent custody agreement (pre-covid) , I was legally forced to leave them in the district. There were many parents like me during the pandemic. We heard way too often: “If you don’t like what’s happening in the district pull your kids.” Those words stung every single time.

I began attending board meetings. I began speaking at board meetings. I began sending emails and making phone calls and having meetings with administration ALL in an attempt to protect my sons from the difficult and painful situations, the strenuous requirements placed upon these young men during a school day, both of whom just wanted an education in a nearly impossible learning environment.

It became readily apparent that, while I was initially patronized, my concerns and outright pleadings were falling entirely on deaf ears. I was granted audience with “the powers that be” at our high school but they made it clear that the best interest of this school (administration/faculty) was their concern. Funding is their concern. Local, State and national reputation is their concern. My opinion is that these aspects were and are their only concern.

I have sat through so many recognition ceremonies at board meetings for high school students. These kids have done amazing things and they are rightly honored as are their teachers. I find it shocking that at school board meetings and even within school walls the parents of these students are (as I have been) ignored. There are wonderful teachers at our school and they deserve our support but the parents of these incredible students are the very first reason these students are successful. Parents are their children’s first and best teachers. They deserve to be recognized, honored AND heard, especially by teachers and administration! Parents may need that recognition but it is even more important that their children see them recognized and honored by the school.  These students have their parents to thank more than anyone else and especially more than Hononegah High School. 

My final decision to run for school board in District 207 was made when I reached out to our regional superintendent in a last ditch effort to advocate for and protect my sons. He told me there was nothing he could do, and that my only recourse was to run for school board. He said that the school board is the only voice that the parents have but it is a powerful one. I told him that that was not the case with our school board. He told me that people like me are the only ones who can change things on that board. So here I am.

I have dug through the archives. I have seen what Hononegah High School once was and what it has now become with a school board (many of whom have sat in their seats for decades) that advocates, votes, and acts upon the best interest of the school’s administration reputation and funding. Our school has lost much of its glory and most of its integrity. Are you aware of the numerous lawsuits our school has been through and lost in the past 5 years?? I’ll give you a hint. There are more than two (by parents and students) under this current administration. In one of the meetings I scheduled last year with 2 Principals after yet another incident where administration bullied my respectful son (with a sterling GPA) I told them: “My taxes pay your salary. I have the say in how you treat and educate my children. “ You (my community) also have a say even though those principals laughed at me.

My running mate Denie (Nadine) Kelley, has taught in a local district for 20 years. Her and her husband have given of their time energy and resources into this community for over 40 years and are the proud parents of 4 Hononegah High School graduates. Denie and Ken hold a special place in my and my childrens’ hearts because of the beautiful and generous way they came to my family’s rescue many years ago when our home and lives were destroyed. They didn’t just help us survive, they stayed alongside us while we recovered. Sometimes parents need support and knowing there are people in my community that I can trust when I need that support is one of the reasons I am passionate about being on District 207’s school board. I believe that with people like Denie and my other running mate, Joan Zimmerman, we can stand alongside and support the parents that need help navigating the school system. We can do this by handling situations within it that would be defeating alone. As school board members we would even help rally other parents around them. Joan Zimmerman is a business owner in our community and a full time devoted grandma who has come alongside her own adult children to help support her granddaughter while her parents manage their careers. She is committed to making sure her granddaughter receives the best education possible and is supported by family inside and outside of the school. She “picks up the slack” in her family because support is what our students need from the parents in this community NOT government-funded education with an agenda for our children.

Even now, many of us do not see eye to eye on how the pandemic was handled in our community. It doesn’t matter though because we can all agree that our children suffered TOO much! As parents and community members we are responsible for our children. We do not pass off the responsibility on our local, state or federal government I wish to raise my own children according to the values and beliefs I believe to be true. I believe that every parent should have that privilege and I believe in a community that supports families and the authority they have over their own children.

Please vote on April 4th for “Kelley, Maragia, Zimmerman” but go one step further. The school board in District 207 is only as powerful as the parents make it. If we win these school board seats we need you to show up. We want to hear from you. We want to see you. We want to know you and we want to make a difference. At some point in District 207’s history parents lost their voice. The time has come to take it back! Thank you for your vote!

Jenny Maragia

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified