Photo courtesy of Mirah Anti
Mirah Anti is the newest member of District 202/Evanston Township High School’s board, filling a vacancy left after too few candidates ran for office. Anti currently serves as the director of equity and inclusion at Township High School District 113 and is the mother of two ETHS students. She also brings her experience as a global history teacher to the role. The Daily sat down to talk with Anti about her position and hopes for the role, which she will hold through 2023. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Daily: Your journey to the District 202 school board wasn’t the traditional campaign process. What made you decide to apply?
Anti: I had thought about it on and off, being a board member, for 202 or even (District) 65 when my kids were little. But it just seemed daunting. One of the funny things that sealed the deal is where I work in my school district, the board meetings are on Mondays as well. This summer, they decided to move them to Tuesdays. So all of a sudden, I don’t have this schedule conflict. And this opportunity arises where I don’t have to run, in a sense of a political campaign. I can interview, which is a whole lot easier, and then do some good service. A perfect storm.
The Daily: What have you found being a board member entails so far?
Anti: Bottom line, we have two functions. One of them is to make sure we hire a superintendent who can continue to make the district as amazing as it is. And then, being the stewards of the district. We will vote on policy, we will establish policy really thinking about everything from the budget to student behavior to staff behavior.
I always say our espoused values should be in alignment with our values in action. So we say: “We’re about all kids,” but are we, when we look at our data? We say: “We’re about learning for freshmen and through seniors,” but are we, when we look at our data or when we talk to kids? Because they’re our bottom line and they’re who we are here for.
The Daily: In addition to being a parent to two District 202 students, you’re also a former teacher and the equity and inclusion director in a different school district. Is that at the front of your mind in your position as a board member?
Anti: Absolutely. I mean it’s kind of just who I am, how I grew up. I’m a social studies teacher, I’m a mom, I’m a friend. That’s kind of my lens. And so it is the way I enter into the conversation as a school board member as well, which means often understanding who I’m sitting at the table with. You may have noticed we’re now all women on the board, which I think, “Wow that’s powerful! That’s interesting, That’s cool!” And at the same time, then, what might we be missing, right?
The Daily: And what about how diversity is reflected across the school?
Anti: We have a really racially mixed student population and community that doesn’t even reflect the nation — it’s greater than the nation, in the sense of our percentages. So, I’m fascinated by how that gets mitigated in positive and also negative ways in the classroom, socially with kids and looking at (Human Resources) and hiring. A lot of that is in the weeds; I can’t get into that business because that’s not the role of the school board member. But I am listening and watching and then when it does come to me as a school board member, I dig in.
The Daily: What is the board focusing on in terms of the return to in-person school?
Anti: A running theme is: How do we return better than when we left? For example, (during the pandemic) we had to get kids tons of hotspots. Typically we’ve told them: “Go to the library, go to a coffee shop,” but what a luxury to be at home at 10 p.m. and have your Internet. So why can’t all kids have that same thing? During the pandemic, (the district helped provide hotspots) so let’s keep the hotspots for this year. I want to keep my ears and eyes out for that kind of thing, where we’ve learned something that we can do better, we did better during COVID, and let’s continue to do better when we come back. God forbid we return back to where we were, given that it was and is a broken system.
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— Mirah Anti appointed to ETHS Board of Education
— District 65, District 202 elect new school boards
— Here’s who’s running for D65, D202 school boards this April