Ndona Muboyayi, D65 board candidate, talks achievement gap and equity in literacy


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Ndona Muboyayi. Muboyayi is running for election to the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education.

Ella Jeffries, Development and Recruitment Editor

Ndona Muboyayi, a fifth-generation Evanston resident, attended both Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202 schools. But as a student, she said she faced adversity due to systemic barriers. 

Community leaders with similar experiences helped her overcome those barriers, Muboyayi said. That’s what she said she wants to do for children in District 65 today.

“Systemic issues that have affected people of color for generations exist in schools that cause opportunity gaps and a lack of access,” Muboyayi said. “At present, there are so many students leaving District 65 that are not at reading grade level, and this is a major concern.” 

Muboyayi has two children who attended public schools in Evanston. Now, she’s running for the District 65 Board of Education on a platform of creating a culturally relevant curriculum, increasing special education support for students with disabilities and closing the achievement gap.

Currently, District 65 has one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the country, beginning between birth and third grade. That’s why addressing the lagging literacy rate for Black and Latine students is a top priority of Muboyayi’s. 

Muboyayi initially ran for school board in 2021, but due to limited opportunities to interact with the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she felt the community did not get the opportunity to learn her story. 

Kimberly Holmes-Ross, community engagement director at Evanston Cradle to Career — a partnership of more than 40 organizations that address systems that affect and undermine children and families — said she’s worked with Muboyayi through the organization’s Advocates for Action program.

As they conducted surveys to learn about community concerns regarding affordable housing and workforce development needs and distributed information to parents to help them access  services for educational attainment, Holmes-Ross said she got to see how passionate Muboyayi was about bettering the community. 

“Ndona is a truth-teller, and she does her homework,” Holmes-Ross said. “As far as the school board is concerned, I think she would be fair because she comes from a place of knowledge and understands the social determinants that surround issues like the achievement gap.”

When her children were in school, Muboyayi said she saw many conversations within the schools about creating more space for people of color. 

Muboyayi said she feels the school district should not only incorporate conversations about equity in the curriculum but that it should hire more people of color as well. 

“I really do believe that having a diverse staff that is focused on equity and inclusion of all persons is highly important for students to succeed,” Muboyayi said. 

Muboyayi has been involved in the Evanston chapter of Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, a national group against anti-racist work. However, at a recent school board forum, she said she’d distanced herself from them.

Judith Treadway is a retired McKinney-Vento Liaison for District 65, where she provided registration services to students who were temporarily without a permanent home but lived in the school district. She met Muboyayi when she enrolled her children in the school, and the two also interacted through their involvement with District 65’s Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee. 

Treadway said Muboyayi is always looking for opportunities to understand and learn about the problems marginalized children experience within the school system.

“Ndona is very humanistic, a problem solver,” Treadway said. “As a well-informed Black woman and an Evanston native, she understands the struggles of many of the city’s children who are marginalized.”

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