Ndona Muboyayi wants to improve the education that public-school children, including her son and daughter, receive in Evanston, Illinois, where her mother’s family history goes back five generations.
As a candidate for the school board in District 65, which educates children up until eighth grade, she wants to close the academic-achievement gap separating Black and brown students from white ones, help children who need special education, and address what she sees as a lack of support for students whose first language isn’t English. That agenda would be ultra-progressive in many communities. In Evanston, however, Muboyayi is challenging not the right, but the left.
In a recent article on the Black Lives Matter at School curriculum in Evanston, I quoted Evanston parents who favor diversity, racial equality, and inclusiveness but object to lessons that they believe cross a line into indoctrination. All the parents I interviewed would be quoted only anonymously, out of fear that they would be harassed online or even lose their jobs.
Muboyayi, 44, a member of the NAACP Evanston/North Shore Branch and the Congolese Community of Chicago, shares their concerns about the curriculum and is now among its most outspoken critics. She attributes her willingness to talk openly to the fact that she is self-employed. A business consultant and translator, Muboyayi attended public schools in Evanston as a child and then moved away. When she returned with children of her own in 2018, she anticipated that they would receive the empowering, racially inclusive education she remembered. Instead she was confronted with a curriculum she deems disempowering, divisive, and ill-suited to helping students of color succeed in school.