Why OPRF is better than Hinsdale Central

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

My last column compared state report cards for OPRF and Hinsdale Central high schools. It was a bit provocative. On purpose. Having written a column for a long time, I know when I write on race, there will be lots of response. So when I presented data that suggests that a big reason Oak Park lags behind Hinsdale Central in test scores is because of the relatively poor performance of the black students at OPRF, I knew some readers would have strong opinions.

I concluded the column by stating that despite Hinsdale Central's superior test scores, Oak Park was the better high school. Here's why:

The newspaper listings of area high school rankings based solely on test scores in reading, math and science are flawed, perhaps pointless. Surely public education is more than test scores from three subjects. What about history, geography, government, music, art, drama, foreign language, writing essays, analyzing problems, critical thinking and collaboration? 

The best schooling educates the whole person's mind, body and spirit. Public education is premised on teaching children the importance of citizenship, community and values. How do the two schools rank with respect to student empathy, compassion, curiosity, courage, honesty, veracity and wisdom? 

The answer is that nobody knows because they aren't tested. The state tests only things that are easily measured, yet many other equally important things aren't because they're simply too hard to measure. As a result, these published test scores are hardly decisive as to the quality of education for 14- to 18-year-old students. Hinsdale Central may be a better high school than Oak Park, but not on the basis of these incomplete test scores.

The biggest reason Oak Park and River Forest High School is a better high school than Hinsdale Central is that it's in Oak Park, which is a diverse community. A devotion to multiculturalism, human dignity and cultural pluralism is essential to its history and ethos. Make no mistake: that is a big deal, not some knee jerk liberal's wet dream. 

Ask a graduate of OPRF who is now working whether the experience of living in Oak Park prepared them for work in the increasingly diverse modern world. They will tell you about their Indian boss, their African peers, their Hispanic customers. They will talk about the importance of sensitivity to race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They will tell you that having diverse friends and relationships enhances the lives they live.

Of course, you can try to learn all of this by attending high school some place other than Oak Park and River Forest High School. You can join model UN or have an exchange student stay with you or read James Baldwin or Toni Morrison. 

Or you can go to OPRF High School for four years.

Reader Comments

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Mary Unbehauen Rodrigo from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2014 6:05 AM

I am with you JR.

JR from Oak Park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2014 11:57 PM

As an Oprf student Im embarassed by this article. It attacks another school without any actual evidence, just some bs emotions. Both schools have pros and cons. It really does not matter and the fact that the writer and commenters feel the need to put teenagers down to glorify a school is sad. Makes me wonder who the adults in this situation are. Sincerely a curret oprf student

Jane Fonda from Oak park  

Posted: May 3rd, 2014 10:57 PM

Let's be real, kids who go to OPRF are better kids than HC kids. HC is full of racist spoiled kids. OPRF gets you ready for the real world and HC gets you ready for the job daddy is gonna hand down to you.


Posted: April 10th, 2014 5:55 PM

How many OPRF graduates have criminal records vs. Hinsdale?

Christopher from Hinsdale  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 5:07 PM

What an awful piece of slanted journalism. Do you think Hinsdale journalists go around saying why HC is better than other schools? It would be embarassing and would lack class. Is that the atmosphere that exists in OP that you are referring to that can't be measured?


Posted: March 18th, 2014 2:05 PM

As an OPRF Alum, AA and Ivy educated, OPRF is far from perfect. Many of the black men I went to school with were greatly let down by OPRF (as athletes) and others. What would be far more helpful would be honest analysis and ways to improve the school - not just for gifted but for all.

OPRF's Insecurity  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 1:37 PM

This is the worst excuse for journalism I have ever seen. I thought this was their school newspaper, which would have made some sense but would have still been a ridiculous article. This is just embarrassing for your community.

OPRF's insecurity  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 1:34 PM

The fact that you are even taking time to compare OPRF to Hinsdale shows how insecure you are about OPRF. You don't see any articles about why Hinsdale is better than OPRF or any other high school. Do you know why? Hinsdale Central doesn't need to because it knows it isn't even worth the time.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 9:23 AM

This article is a wast of time. Please read people or star magazine for more insightful or interesting articles. John - please stop posting this crap and give your articles real gravitas. This is sensationalism - meant to what?

Mortimus Prime from Hinsdale  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 7:09 AM

Pretty sure your right to free speech has been revoked due to your stupid article. OPRF is full of morty morts. Your mortishness will not go unnoticed.


Posted: March 17th, 2014 10:36 PM

John loves this. Hey how is your OPRF education working out? Writing for a newspaper one step above a blog. I copy and pasted this article into word, and it tells me your writing at at 7th grade level. Congrats. HC>

Craig McFly from Hinsdale  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 10:13 PM

Cont'- We get it. You like your school. However, don't lash out at other high schools because of your inferiority complex. Ultimately, this is just bad journalism; I have lost some respect for the school if this is the kind of trash perpetuated by their alums.

Craig McFly from Hinsdale  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 10:06 PM

"How do the two schools rank with respect to student empathy, compassion, curiosity, courage, honesty, veracity, and wisdom? ... The answer is that nobody knows because they aren't tested." Not true. Hinsdale Central has been nominated and won the Character Counts! National School of Character award *twice* in the past 7 years -- more character-founded awards than OPRF has won in their history. Don't plague this world with speculation and unsubstantiated claims. We don't need more ignorance.

OFPR STUD from oak park  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 10:03 PM

U kidding me? I go to OPRF and I would kill to go to central. Our school is absolutely crap. My friends use the N word more than any other sports team I've played again. Our teachers are disinterested in teaching and that is they job! I played away for soccer at central once and to me it seems a lot better than where I'm at right now.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 9:40 PM

I've always like Hinsdale, and I don't agree with all of Hubbuch's points, but, c'mon, people. If such juvenile comments as Mort's ---I think John Hubbuch is still waiting for his first wet dream (yuck yuck) --- and the sophomoric Ark of Yadda Yadda are representative of Hinsdale's collective thought process (I suspect not), then maybe Hubbuch has a better point than I thought. Btw, that's his real name, Ark.


Posted: March 17th, 2014 9:15 PM


Burchh from The Dale  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 9:11 PM

First, I played on the football team and we never used the N word and would never do such a thing. Second, I agree with Morty Craig and this is the shittiest article I have ever read. Grades, crime, sports, atmosphere, community involvement... those are all clearly in Hinsdale's favor.

joe from unknown  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 9:02 PM

It's great that OPRF has to go out of their way to write an article specifically pointing out how the are "superior" to HC. The pride HC has is themselves is what makes the school greater than any other. And that pride and success doesn't need to be justified by a biased article. Let the school and results do the talking.

Mort from Hinsdale  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 9:02 PM

I think John Hubbuch is still waiting for his first wet dream.

Chandler "The BasedGod" Hawkins from Chicago  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 8:47 PM

This isn't the civil rights movement in the 1960s. this is 2014. Blacks and whites can get along in the real world, despite how diverse your high school was. Get real. What do you think your indian boss is going to care about more when hiring: The employee with the higher GPA or the employee that went to a more diverse high school?

Morty Craig from Hinsdale  

Posted: March 17th, 2014 8:45 PM

Kind of the dumbest article of all time. Hinsdale has plenty of diversity and is far better than OPRF in all of the categories that are "hard to measure". It's not really hard to measure the amount of charity work they do, the state trophies their sports teams earn, the extremely low levels of bullying and victim-oriented crime from students at Hinsdale, especially the diverse ones. It's nice you like the town you're from but you legit know nothing about Hinsdale

long time resident  

Posted: February 11th, 2014 9:30 AM

Like so many, a big part of why I moved to Oak Park was because I believed the stuff about great schools. I soon discovered that while we have good schools, there is also lots of need for improvement, especially with regard to education of students with disabilities. Why did we stay? Because Oak Park as a community creates the diversity that the HS takes credit for. Sadly the "We're better then (fill in the blank) mentality prevents D97 and 200 from becoming the great schools they could be.

Diane Fascione from Oak Park  

Posted: January 31st, 2014 9:20 AM

OPRF is better than Hinsdale Central because HC condones racial slurs by their football team. They are known for this and have exhibited that with many N words, etc. during a game which thankfully OPRF won.

Nate Merriweather  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 2:03 PM

And if you spend all your time quantifying your interactions with non-whites, who I'm sure feel very lucky to get to deal with someone so openminded as you, you're probably not as color blind as you think you are.

Nate Merriweather  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 2:01 PM

So the reason OPRF is better than Hinsdale Central is because it's Oak Park and it has diversity? That's about as provocative as a movie where the killer turns out to be the guy who has been holding the murder weapon the whole. It's simple and predictable and I feel dumber for having read it. Try harder.

Professor Lombardi  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 1:28 PM

In my professional opinion, I'd say Oak Park has more pizazz, while Hinsdale contiains higher levels of chutzpah. But I would say they both contain equal amounts of moxie.

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 1:17 PM

While I appreciate the author's assurance that OPRF is far superior in ways that cannot be measured, I wouldn't hate it if they did a little better in ways that can be measured, too. Just saying.

Violet Aorta from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 12:22 PM

Lest anyone think that I am broad-brushing, I am pointing out that socio-economic differences are more of a factor in dividing us than race or ethnicity would ever be. I have noticed certain immigrants who seem to take to American life much better than others. It is due to their basic tenets and whether they clash or fit nicely with the dominant culture.

Violet Aorta from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 12:20 PM

Cont. Well, you get the picture. The point is that before high school it seemed to be less stratified. When White people like John live on the same block as new transplants from the 'hood who are used to blasting music and loitering in front of their apt. or on the corner, get back to me. It happened to me and my OP kumbaya-esque upbringing ran smack into reality. Merely occupying the same public space is simply not enough of an interaction to warrant patting oneself on the back. Sorry.

Violet Aorta from Panera's WIFI RF  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 12:16 PM

This sounds like an earnest White liberal fantasy to me. It is easy to "tolerate" people of color in the same public space but I wonder if John or other like-minded Whites go much farther than that. One of the things which struck me about the racial divide during my stint at OPRF in the early '80s was how visible it was. The cliques were generally formed along racial, ethnic (primarily the Eye-tah-lians, as I refer to them) and socio-economic lines. There were the gay guys in drama, the...

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 11:17 AM

Our society has become increasingly competitive as their are fewer upper income job opportunities. Smart parents know this which is what drives the obsession over school quality. My fear is that OPRF loses sight of this real fact and in the quest for diversity and all these other intangibles, finds itself behind the curve. There is a point that perception becomes reality. Once that perception is created, it is very difficult to change it.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 11:09 AM

I agree with your premise. However, the longer term issue is that whether we like it or not, those one dimensional measures of excellence such as test scores carry a lot of weight. Schools are often the biggest reason home buyers choose a community. Often times, the only objective measure is test scores. Unfortunately, most people aren't capable of looking behind the numbers. We see this even in Oak Park with parents obsessing about being in the Mann district...cont

Aging Disgracefully from Oak Park  

Posted: January 29th, 2014 10:51 AM

Bravo. And, might I add, a palate cleanser to this responses to Jim Bowman's piece on guns in churches.

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