Yard Signs Ordered!

Yard signs ordered! Yes! Checking things off the darn list, finally.

If you haven’t told me already that you’d like a yard sign, and would like one, please let me know!

If you HAVE told me, just hang in there — I’ll be back in touch as soon as I have them in hand. 🙂

50 yard signs in full color + stakes from a union shop, $375 — if you’d like to help defray that cost, donate here:

https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/114962

Learn more about my campaign here: http://www.mohanrajforoprf.com

Hence ActBlue

Good morning, folks! ActBlue wasn’t set up for our school board race the last time I checked, but they are now, and I’ve finished my set-up, so if you’d like to donate to my campaign, this is your chance.

This is a non-partisan election, so I’m not running as a Democrat per se, but by now, I think you know that my political leanings are strongly Democratic and progressive. (I’d actually like the Democratic party to lean more left, so I’ll keep trying to drag it in that direction, whether or not I’m elected…) Hence ActBlue.

You’ll see me talking a fair bit about campaign fundraising in the next few days — the election is April 6, so it’ll just be a short fundraising window. Costs are basically for a mailer and yard signs, plus a bit for the website, so I’m aiming to raise around $3-$4K to cover those expenses.

Donate here: https://secure.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/114962

Learn more about my campaign here: http://www.mohanrajforoprf.com

Endorsed by the Illinois Asian American Caucus

Delighted to receive an endorsement from the Illinois Asian American Caucus.

As someone who has taught Asian American literature & history at the college level, I know how far we still have to go in providing a comprehensive and complete education on those subjects to our students and the community at large.

If elected as a school board trustee, I hope to help ensure that our students receive a wide-ranging education in a diverse range of subjects, including strong understanding of the cultural, racial, and ethnic history of our country.

Building Wings

My mother, Jacintha Mohanraj, was 18 when she married, 19 when she had me, 22 when we moved from Sri Lanka to America, arriving on a cold Christmas Day in New England.

Jacintha had two more daughters after me; while my father worked long hours as a doctor at New Britain General Hospital, she kept our home spotless, cooked incredible Sri Lankan food with inadequate ingredients for her young family, and was a constant support to others in the community. She also tried to get her GED, but it wasn’t easy to study while managing three small children, with her parents and siblings in other countries, and she never quite managed to pass.

My family has always valued education highly — my father’s father was principal of three schools, including one he built up from scratch on the island of Delft, just off the coast of Sri Lanka; he was so beloved an educator that they raised a statue there in his name. Many of my relatives were teachers — in my family, we tend to be teachers or doctors. So I think it must have particularly pained my mother that due to the circumstances of immigrant women’s lives at the time, she didn’t get a chance to continue with her education.

My parents struggled to send me to the best private high school they could afford — like many immigrants, they invested their best hopes in their children’s education and future success, and made many sacrifices to cover tuition, books and fees.

It wasn’t easy for them — my parents had just bought their first house when I started high school, and there were times in those early years when the tuition was late, or I had to get books from the library because we couldn’t quite afford to buy them. But somehow, they managed to send me and my sisters to great high schools, and later, to pay for our college; being free of college debt was a tremendous gift that has opened up so many opportunities in my life, and I know it wasn’t easy for them to manage.

I went to the University of Chicago, and perhaps a little intoxicated with the freedom of it all, and with having a boyfriend for the first time, I missed quite a few early morning calculus classes, which led to a rude awakening when I flunked my freshman calculus class. I was, I have to admit, slightly terrified when I called my parents in Connecticut, to tell them I’d flunked a class — I actually had my boyfriend (that they didn’t know about) hold my hand when I made the call, because I was so nervous; I was crying when I told them.

They were actually very kind about it on the phone that day — although my parents had high expectations for me and my studies, they also wanted me to be happy. “Try your best, kunju,” was all they asked of me, really. ‘Kunju’ is a Tamil word, like ‘darling’ — my parents spoke multiple languages fluently, coming from once-colonized Sri Lanka. My mother speaks three languages (Tamil, Sinhalese, and English), despite not getting her GED.

When I came home for Christmas that year, my mother picked up my calculus textbook and started paging through it. As she went, she looked increasingly bewildered. “I don’t understand — how are you having trouble with this?”

It turned out although Sri Lanka is a tiny island nation (the size of Connecticut and Massachusetts put together), and despite dealing with the aftereffects of colonization, Sri Lanka’s educational system was still more advanced than ours in many ways; before the ethnic conflict, for example, they had a 99% literacy rate. (America currently stands at 86%.) My mother had covered calculus in her convent high school math classes, and was smart enough that she’d breezed through it.

I think of my mother, when I think about serving on the high school board as a trustee. It’s one of the great sadnesses of my life, that though it was no one’s fault, circumstances conspired to keep her from access to the kind of education that would have let her thrive and shine.

Jacintha was busy enough when her girls were young, but after we’d all graduated and flown off to our careers in other cities (ending up as a professor and two doctors), my father was still working long hours, and she didn’t have the consolation that a life of the mind might have provided. She was clearly smart as a whip, but our educational and social systems failed her.

Now I look forward to the next generation, where my parents’ hopes and my own hopes reside. My children have attended our local public schools; my daughter will be entering OPRF as a freshman this fall. As a board member, my focus will be on trying to make sure *all* of our children are well-served by the high school, so they can achieve to their fullest potential.

I want to be sure that our students have teachers who are brilliant at what they do, and who are eager to guide and support students in their studies. I want teachers and staff to be well-resourced, so they can concentrate on the students’ needs.

Perhaps most importantly, I want students from marginalized and disenfranchised backgrounds, struggling with economic or other challenges, to have everything they need to succeed in high school and beyond. None of them should look back, like my mother, with frustration at opportunities denied.

I want our students to fly high and strong.

I want our school to do everything we can, to help them build their wings.

******

Yard Sign for My Campaign

Hello, local peeps who would like to support my campaign! I have a yard sign design, woohoo!, and will be ordering signs tomorrow, to distribute hopefully by the end of the week.

If you’d like to host a sign in your yard, let me know now? It’ll help me know how many to order tomorrow!

Original design courtesy Jenn Reese, deftly adapted for this campaign by Marcy Grant. 🙂

Campaign Things I Have Finally Done Today:

– asked Jed to fix my campaign website address
– wrote apologetic note to campaign volunteer saying super sorry for being super slow
– told her yes I am committing to the postcard mailing costs
– waffled and then sent her some potential text for postcards

– sent her photo for postcards

(All of the above took no more than 30 minutes, I think, and yet it’s taken me several DAYS to make myself do it, sigh.)

***

Campaign things I still have to do (might happen tonight, might happen tomorrow):

– revise my campaign website and fill in a bunch of missing stuff
– talk to finance peeps about financial / legal requirements for campaign

– start seriously figuring out who will be hosting yard signs for me

***

Things that won’t happen ’til Monday, but really need to happen then:

– open campaign bank account
– start actually fundraising for campaign (with hope of finishing fundraising within a day or two, because I’d rather not spend weeks on this, this time around) — goal of $4500.

– order yard signs

*****

Once I do all that, I’ll be reasonably in good shape for the campaign, I think. Onwards.

A Strange Campaign Season

DPOP candidate forum done — we definitely got some questions that were a little different from the Democrat party peeps, than we’ve been getting from the general populace. Nice to have new questions to answer, though in general, much of what campaigning is, really is answering the same question over and over and over again for different people. 🙂

This weekend, I need to focus on getting some bits of campaign stuff finished. I have to:

– finish my website (and rename it)

– make a financial decision re: spending money on postcards

– prep the material for the postcards if so

I hope to have a yard sign design finalized by Monday (thanks, Marcy Grant!), and will then place an order, so if you’d like to host a yard sign for me, please do let me know. Knowing now will help me figure out how many to order on Monday!

***

I’m running a much more low-key campaign this time around than four years ago. It’s not that I care any less about serving on the board! But:

– it feels irresponsible to do in-person campaigning, especially before I’m fully vaccinated, so I haven’t been doing that at all

– money is tighter now for a lot of people, so I’m more hesitant about asking people for campaign funds; I’m going to do a little of it, but less than last time around, and if you’re in a financial position where it would be a hardship, please DON’T donate to my campaign; I can suggest other people who would be better to support

– although we don’t have polls, so I can’t know for sure, I think I have a pretty good chance of being elected to this board — I have a lot of relevant experience, 5000+ people voted for me in the last election, and I’m sure that the fact that I’m the only woman running (and a queer woman of color) will be a factor as well in many voters’ decisions

– and the rest of the candidates are pretty strong — it’s not going to be a disaster if I’m not elected, thankfully

So, I’m happy to go to forums and answer questions, and I’m thinking I’ll do at least one Facebook Ask Me Anything day before the election, but I’m spending a lot less money and a lot less time on creating campaign materials, organizing volunteers to walk for me, etc.

It’s a strange campaign season all around.

(Election is April 6. Oak Park / River Forest peeps, have you made your plans for voting? Early voting is open now, if you’d like to get it out of the way!)