John is an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976. He served on the District 97 school board, coached youth sports and, more recently, retired from the law. That left him time to become a Wednesday Journal columnist and now a blogger. John has some pretty strong opinions about Oak Park and a wry way of putting them across. You won't want to leave his blog without leaving a comment of your own.
My last column [Revisioning the achievement gap, Viewpoints, Sept. 14] focused on the decades of Oak Park schools' failure to make any headway toward closing the educational achievement gap between our children. That gap is, of course, not limited to Oak Park. It is a national problem. At least we have tried harder than most to close the gap, but alas, we have had no more success than anywhere else.
A long with the new fall TV lineup, the commencement of football season, and cooler temperatures, each fall we are reminded that there is an achievement gap in our schools that never closes. This year's reminder of the omnipresent gap took the form of the snarky question, "Why a referendum on a new pool, but nothing on closing the gap?"
It's not easy being a university president these days. You have a lot to do: fundraising, dealing with prickly alumni and legislators, trying to somehow reconcile athlete and student, being sensitive to the needs and whims of post-adolescents, and being the face of the university.
It seems such a long time from the halcyon days of November and December of 2008, following the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president of the United States. Many of us were genuinely hopeful that maybe his appeal to our better natures just might reverse the sclerotic, hateful partisanship of our political system. Racism in that bright shining time seemed on the wane.