Outside group's anti-violence presentation offends OPRF students, staff at assembly

Principal apologizes after group's use of racially-insensitive language during assembly

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The presentation by an outside group that was brought in to speak to students at an anti-violence assembly at Oak Park and River Forest High School on Monday has sparked criticism from attendees and an apology to families by the principal.

Principal Nathanial Rouse issued an apology via a letter to parents following Monday's presentation by representatives of Alexian Brothers Heath System, which runs rehabilitative, behavioral and children hospitals in Hoffman Estates and Elk Grove. One of the services Alexian representatives offer is speaking at schools about social-emotional issues faced by students.

The group was recommended to OPRF by "reliable peers, as well as other local schools," according to Rouse's letter.

But the Alexian presenters used terms like "colored people" when addressing the topic of race, which offended many students and adults who were present. The group drew other criticisms for their style and presentation. Alexian took part in a roughly hour-long assembly that was meant to kick off OPRF's weeklong anti-violence activities.

The high school received emails from upset parents about the assembly. And according to sources who were there, some students in the audience booed Alexian's presenters. One of the presenters, who is African American, discussed Rosa Parks and used the term "colored people."

"Unfortunately, the presentation missed the mark for our community," Rouse wrote. "It was unfocused, preachy, and geared for a younger audience. Worse, it addressed issues of race in a way that was offensive."

According to Rouse, the high school spoke with Alexian prior to Monday's assembly and believed the health agency was "ideal" to help launch the school's week.

"The goal for the week is to promote a culture of taking a stand against violence and showing respect and care for everyone in our school community," he wrote. "I am sorry to say that this assembly was deeply disappointing in its message and its format. We have offered an apology to students, faculty, and staff, and now I offer an apology to you, our families, as well."

Rouse adds that the assembly, though a disappointment, has sparked a good discussion in the building among the students and adults.

"Students' honest sharing of their opinions about the assembly has sparked meaningful classroom and hallway conversations about violence, race, and respect," he said. "I appreciate the willingness of our faculty, staff, and students to use this as an opportunity to move in a positive direction."

Wednesday Journal will have additional coverage in this week's paper.

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Let's think  

Posted: June 4th, 2013 2:46 PM

Perhaps the language was offensive, perhaps it was misunderstood, perhaps both. Menawhile, people are DYING. Often, not always, it's because of bad parenting. The dying is FAR more offensive than any words.


Posted: March 19th, 2013 12:33 PM

When these kids go to school, do you really think they'll hunker down and have the discipline to get through the rigours of academic life and the expectations of abiding by rules, when they've been allowed to roam the streets at any age and hour at will? I could ask you, Dylan, why you think parents allow this to happen.


Posted: March 19th, 2013 12:27 PM

Another thing to address he second question. When I'm driving around the west side in the summer at 10, 11pm, sometimes midnight or 1am etc... I see large groups of kids hanging out, 8,9, 10 year olds, teens, unsupervised by parents. I see this not only on weekends, but also during the week on school nights. This is not what I call setting your kid up for success, not what I call being involved I your kids life. This is a recipe for letting the street raise your kid, sometimes ending fatally.


Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:16 PM

an institution with the issues we have in some communities only serves to further and reward the dysfunction. I am a liberal, I believe in giving opportunities to people who are less privileged, that's part of the reason I moved to Oak Park, but I'm not going to brush serious problems under the rug just because some people are not willing to rock the boat due to the possibility of ruffling some feathers.


Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:07 PM

Dylan, I know "what's up" when I discuss kids with their parents, and through different interactions etc... As to why parents motivation, or lack there of, sometimes they just see no value in education, sometimes they just have the attitude that if the kid shows up and finishes something their child deserves an "A" etc... I could note more, but you are still missing the point. No one is saying there are no problems to address in the schools, but not addressing what a family brings to cont.


Posted: March 18th, 2013 8:56 PM

Dylan, I'm sure a good number of OPRF students went to schools outside of Oak Park, and I'm also aware of the effects of ecominics, but you make it sound like we shouldn't address, or its too late to address, parental involvement if one is poor or has gone to highly challenged schools, which I couldn't disagree with more.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 3:07 PM

Speedway - I'm not disagreeing with your goals. I just think that these types of non-academic life skills shouldn't be taught in schools. It's not reasonable to ask teachers to prevent teenage pregnancy, and ensure that the teens who do have babies are good parents. Schools cannot be allowed to become de facto parents.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 1:29 PM

I would not call it a parenting class but more a psychology class in early childhood learning and teaching based on models used today and tested by psychologists. The idea is to break the cycle.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 1:24 PM

I think it could involve teenage pregnancy, drugs and alcohol as adjuncts but geared more toward how children learn directly and indirectly. Could even a small amount learned in class benefit all those kids who will be the parents of our future. It could help older siblings be better role models for younger siblings. Aunts and uncles be better role models for their families. They might learn consequence to behaviors of hitting children, yelling at children, or being to permissive.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 1:15 PM

we start a cycle of bad parenting that can last for generations. Isn't a lot of what Collab. trying to accomplish by finding hi risk kids and going to the parents, then trying to find them help if they are willing. Instead of having to correct parenting issues after the fact, why not instill in young adults before they become parents what young children need to grow and learn properly. I am not talking about how to change a diaper, but how a child learns from his first environment, home.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 1:07 PM

Think about this. How do parents learn to become good parents. The majority will learn it from their parents, their first role models. Parents have children with no accompanying instructions and wing it. Most parents will love their child unconditionally but that is not enough in today's society. I think most parents could be better, need to be better for their child to succeed, need to be better parents at the start in early childhood. If they are not taught before becoming parents themselve

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 12:32 PM

Speedway - I'm not sure that a nonacademic class that puts teachers is the role of parents is movement in the right direction. Keep in mind that if preventing teen pregnancy becomes the job of the school, then failure to prevent teen pregnancy becomes just another thing that teachers will be blamed for.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 11:31 AM

Just had a novel idea or so I think. What if the HS's gave and required all students to take, early on say freshman or sophomore year on parenting. Could include how young children learn, difficulties young parents have, etc. Could this not help break some of the cyclical parenting problems to some degree that affect so many parents of all cultures?

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 10:06 AM

The Collab. for ECE may narrow the gap but it won't close it. If the initiatives offered by the Collab. are not accepted or utilized by the parent than the program will fail. If students are not caught early enough through the Collab. and supported by the family, trying to change it later in life will be much more difficult or to late. If you believe this much, than it still goes back to the parents.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:52 AM

Dylan, I think you can probably answer that question as well as Rez can. You are searching for answers in one area. As much as it starts with the parents it continues on with the schools, the friends, and the child itself. No, you are right. The basis of education starts at birth. Parents and older siblings are the role models. If a parent smokes, her children will probably smoke. If a parents reads and if a parent reads to her child don't you agree that the child will probably want to rea

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:33 AM

Dylan, read the early comments. I was repeating what someone said earlier. It seemed that the very people who were trying to help the kids with programs were being denigrated. So why bother than. Then there is no point to another program like the Collab. if people who need it denigrate the type of people who are trying to provide it.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:26 AM

drugs and/or alcohol. Because druggies are losers, who couldn't cut it. Tell them to use birth control at an early age so they are not children raising children. To encourage them to pick their friends wisely. If you think the school can be their parent as well as their educator, their baby sitter, the place for most of their meals. Hell, give them a bed in the gymnasium and we can really say the school has done it all. But, that would be to easy on the parents.


Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:21 AM

Rez, You say you know what's up. So then tell me, and us. Why do these parents not care about their children's education?


Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:20 AM

Furthermore, intervention needs to happen EARLY, talking in pre-k and grad school. It will be very difficult to provide great education to of students who have difficulties if you are trying to intervene in High School, or even middle school. Its not happening at the extent that it could. So no Speedway, this IS one of the biggest reasons to invest in early childhood. Also Speedway if you hate liberals so much why do you live in Oak Park? It must be like living in hell everyday.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:17 AM

Many of us came from difficult environments and still do. Yesterday, on line I witnessed a young girl who had no fingers on one hand. She had learned to play the piano beautifully using what she had. It was awesome. But she didn't achieve this by blaming her environment, her parents, her teachers. She did it with grit and determination and not giving up. So can parents not give those little words of encouragement at an early age. Dare your kids to be different from their friends who use


Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:16 AM

Rez, I have worked at schools in Oak Park, Forest Park, North Lawndale, and Cicero. Here is my question. Of the students at OPRF how many also attended pre-k, grade school, and middle school in Oak Park? Furthermore, lets look at the economics. Success in school is tied to economic status. There ARE enrichment activities that can happen, but they are not to the extent that they should.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:07 AM

be giving us any financial assistance. My brother and sister and I all started working at 13, albeit not for college but to just be able to have a hot lunch at school. I am proud to say two of us graduated college. It took me eight years with no financial aid assistance. My sister did it in six. My brother never finished freshman year in HS. All my mother kept saying is she wanted us to go to college. That we were smart. That we could do anything we wanted to do if we had an education.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 9:00 AM

learn the minimum to be successful in life. The schools are there primarily to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Today schools are teaching so much more, asking more from their students and from their students parents. What you see in Oak Park is certainly not what I grew up with. My parents made us go to school or we would get a licking. My mother told us from an early age her expectations that we go to college, because she didn't. She also reminded us that they (my parents) would not

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 8:50 AM

a parent, or a culture. So a focus that is safer to rely on is the school system. Yet, while there are better schools than others it is still an imperfect system. To fix one aspect of the problem will help a few, but most will not develop that "I can do it" attitude. I don't personally believe or expect that the schools are responsible for rearing our children. For fixing all their hurts, for changing the environments their students grew up in. They are there to educate, to help a student

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 8:41 AM

I believe the people who succeed beyond these barriers are those who say and are motivated to be different, to be more. How many children strive to not be like their parents. But, to change anything for oneself requires a lot or work, determination, and belief in oneself. I hear the reluctant admission that parents are part of the problem. Yes, they are. Reality check, most kids everywhere have one parent households or two parent households who work. I hear that it is too difficult to change

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 8:29 AM

I keep rereading the comments to try and get a handle on what I may be missing. After reading it all again one thing sticks out, "environment". What is environment but people. If one grows up with a liar will he become a liar, a thief, a bully, etc. Many will but not all. If your mother tells you that you are worthless, do you grow up to be worthless. Again many will, some won't. Most children grow up with parents who have no degrees, with parents who are far from rich.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2013 12:40 AM

Great, so now maybe we can all agree to cancel this initiative on the Collaboration for early childhood education foisted upon all of us by the uber-liberals, unsupported by Dylan as her focus is not the family or the culture and only OPRF HS. Reality check, your children will be long gone from the HS before you can make a dent.


Posted: March 17th, 2013 10:50 PM

It is exactly my place to tell my students what they need to do to succeed. It is also my place to tell parents what they need to do to help their child succeed. Your belief that I, or anyone else, who doesn't live in the community should not tell parents or students what they should do to improve is another reason why parents get away with not being involved and students get away with not caring and acting out.


Posted: March 17th, 2013 10:41 PM

Dylan, I may not live in a poor AA community, but I spend enough time in them and meet with parents to know what's up. When a school is producing high achieving kids, yet you have a disproportionate amount of AA students that are dysfunctional and failing, and everyone is getting the same education, opportunities and attention from the teacher, it is not always about the system. Unless you have taught in my situations, and have met the parents I've met, you just won't know what I do.

Dylan Bellisle from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 17th, 2013 8:26 PM

No that is not what I said. Basically what I am saying is that it's hard to point fingers at parents when the system is so messed up. If it was equitable We might see big changes but it is far from that. So how do we even know if parents are part of the problem if the system is not even doing the job it should be? As violet provided the example are there many issues and concerns within the African American community that many of us who do not live in that community will have Difficulties in fully comprehending. If you don't live and spend the majority of your time and those communities then it'll be difficult to have a good perspective in terms of what needs to change. So that is why I am critical of those who do not live in those communities who focus on the individuals and the actions they may see. If you don't live there it's not your place to tell others what they should and should not do. What is our place is to make sure that the basic institutions that provide services in education to us all are equitable fair and just.


Posted: March 17th, 2013 7:59 PM

Like it or not. You may try to shine of one side, but the other will completely affect the entire presence of the coin. Positive education is dependant upon everyone doing their part.


Posted: March 17th, 2013 7:56 PM

Dylan, so if something is too hard or sensitive, we shouldn't try to make it better? That kind of thinking is part of the problem. Some institutions need more attention vs others, so its redundant to generalise without looking at the particular. The situation the Oak Park is a constant consideration, while addressing culture is not. Trying to progress by addressing half of the problem does little good. It's like trying to make a coin with only one side, your getting 2 sides whether you cont...


Posted: March 17th, 2013 6:46 PM

Rez, And my point is that there's so much to improve in the system that will keep us busy enough. Changing culture And individuals is much more sensitive and difficult. We have much more control over the system as opposed to culture. Let's fix the system first and then see what we can do about individual people's lives


Posted: March 17th, 2013 1:50 AM

OPRF, no body said there are no instances of racism in schools, you misunderstood the point. The point is that the institution is the ONLY thing seen as a problem in need of work when it comes to issues such as the gap or disruptions. I don't really care if YOU think I protest too much, because the fact is there is little to no public of official protest on this issue.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 11:29 PM

Violet I find your character judgements and assumptions about me interesting. All u know is that i am white and SOME of my ideas. You dont know who my family is, spouse, if i have children or even where i live. All i will say is that its not simply tolerance its anger because it does affect my life. So please dont make assumptions without knowing someone.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 11:23 PM

Violet, i understand what your point is, and what you have to say. Unfortunately i feel that you are making assumptions on things i never said. I do not idolize "the poor" but what i do amd what my work is in exposing those barriees that create an unjustice system. That is what i feel like will have the largest impact. What i say here is not simply words but beliefs that i put into action and work tirelessly towards. I am not on the sidelines just talking.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 8:09 PM

By stating some obvious racism facts, I am playing the "race card?" I guess we can never talk about race then at all. If you would read my comments I said parents are very responsible but there is also racism at OPRF. I have specific instances I could relate but won't for privacy reasons. Suffice it to say that it was brought to the attention of the administration because I am not letting that stuff happen. And Rez, I do think you protest too much.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 5:11 PM

Your comment makes me realize why there is such a disconnect. We do not share the same waves.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 4:54 PM

@Speedway: Say whaa...TF?! I cannot wrap my brain around your comment (no jokes, please). I don't identify as White OR Black but as a person of color...Are you a Black woman? That would be news to me. In any case, I am saying that I feel like I am in the thick of things more than these White bleeding hearts (redundant). I am not impressed with their ivory tower liberality too much. When you are up in the ether, it's difficult to be down to earth with the people. Hey, that sort of rhymed!;)

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 3:25 PM

To Violet - You are absolutely correct. There is no way I can relate to you as a black woman to a black woman. But by your own argument you can not relate either. We are born with our ethnicity and that obviously can't be changed. So we change what we can. I admit, though I try and continue to try, I am a racist, but, so are you.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:54 PM

@Speedway: I cannot keep answering broadbrush allegations and absolutes. You know the answer to those questions. My point is that it's easy to be tolerant of something that doesn't directly affect you. It's like all the people who welcome illegal immigration because THEY don't work with their hands. It's not until THEIR positions are affected that they begin squawking. For instance, handing out work visas for white-collar contract work (a PC term for temp work).

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:23 PM

Rez, I think you attempted to educate. But, some people are not ready to hear and yes the "race card" comes out. The argument that school's, teacher's are responsible for raising our children is ridiculous. They are there to educate them. When some people in the AA stop seeing themselves as victims and feel that everyone owes them, perhaps then they will achieve what they are seeking.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:04 PM

Speedway, I appreciate you comment, thank you. All I care about is that the students are offered the best I can give them.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:03 PM

cont. I've got to laugh, they were built that way so long before there was any need for diversity in Oak Park, but, than I am a racist. The aspect of attempting diversity in Oak Park, my God, that is racist. Violet Aura, what are you?

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:55 PM

Violet Aura, Yes, I am a racist. I drive through the hood because it is not safe for me to walk around in that area, as it is not safe for me to walk around OP after dark. As far as the layout of buildings in Oak Park you ?


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:53 PM

Or anyone from any other race isn't capable of being lazy, or dysfunctional, or that their parents are completely involved... But I'm pointing to a very particular trend within a large portion of certain minority student, as oppose to isolated situations, plus I've acknowledged problems in institutions, but I refuse to disregard the important role parents play and the fact the my experice has shown me this trend indicates a lack of involvement. Kids deserve more.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:48 PM

OPRF, regarding your "lazy" comment, I never made such a distinction, I said uninvolved, which could mean a variety of things. Sometimes the student IS lazy, sometimes they don't care, sometimes they feel like they deserve more than what they are willing to put in. I've met a lot of parents and students that feel like you should be held to a different standard than other students... Would holding these students to a different standard be your idea of "fair"? I never said the white, Hispanic cont

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:41 PM

Cont. is condescending and phony. I was in an OP cafe this morning and overheard and mother discussing the notorious OPRF assembly and her child stated that one reason for it is fighting in the cafetaria. As I have stated before, I attended OPRF in the early '80s and never saw ONE FIGHT in that period of time. So it is imperative that if there is a problem of this sort, it is addressed BEFORE it gets too extreme.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:40 PM

So if a white person rides a bus or train through the "hood" they are not racist. If a white person makes more money than another they are a racist. If the reverse happens does that make them a racist? I'm having trouble with your logic here.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:36 PM

Cont. with those of lower income levels. This allows the bleeding hearts to fantasize about the Other. When you angelicize the Other, you are just as racist as those who demonize the Other. "The Magic Negro" was an essay written by a BLACK man and I find it to be utterly and devastatingly on point. White bleeding hearts who have some need (out of White liberal guilt, no doubt) to elevate BP to saint status, are not relating to the Other in a natural way. To be more solicitious to the Other...

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:33 PM

Cont. Line seems to also be going in this direction. I imagine that the bleeding hearts are taking the Metra in greater numbers yet professing tolerance out of the other sides of their progressive mouths. LOL! And then it matters where you live. Most bleeding hearts live in houses, I would imagine. By nature of the way OP is set up, the rentals are on the fringes of town for the most part. You don't have houses interspersed with apts. very much, which separates those who are of higher incomes...

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:29 PM

Cont. excursions through the 'hood (West Side). I used to take the Austin bus to Jefferson Park every other day. I also on occasion take the Divison, North Ave, and Chicago buses. Guess how many White people I see? Practically ZERO. All the tree-huggers seem to drive. Ain't that a blip? It's not about driving past the inner cities whilst on the Ike. Only by riding the bus can you get a feel for it on the ground. I also see very few Whites on the Blue Line these days. What gives? The Green cont.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:25 PM

Dylan, I bet I have had more contact with the Black community throughout my life than you could ever hope to do so. I find that White liberals tend to like to present themselves as uber tolerant and lovers of "diversity," but in reality it begins and ends with socio-economic status. In other words, a White person has no problem with associating and socializing with a person of color or other ethnicity as long as that person is of the same "level" as they are. I don't drive and enjoy *cont.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:24 PM

To Rez, I appreciate the time you have spent sharing your experiences. I especially liked your ability to articulate about difficulties in problem solving. I learned something. I am not a teacher but I do try to relate to the difficulties associated with teaching today. I think you are probably a great teacher. Have heart and don't give up.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:24 PM

Some parents have told me they think my expectations of their child (always the failing ones) are too high. The fact that a parent is telling my this, and that they don't have high expectations of their own children, is highly troubling... Yet few of these parents ever acknowledge the fact that their kid just does not try. I'm not trying to brand everyone, because like I've said I've have plenty of hard working AA students, but I've also spotted certain trends. Maybe that's hard for you to hear.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:16 PM

Class on my feet trying to help everyone, especially those in need... Now, if that's your idea of "racism" and inequality, then I don't know what to say to your. It sounds like you'd prefer a teacher that looks the other way and not hold students accountable when they are disruptive or no caring to work... I'm not that person. I don't care how rich or poor, black or white your are, if you are in my class, you are expected to follow the same rules as everybody, and you're expected to work too.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:15 PM

OPRF, Okay, I hear you. There are elements in OPRF HS that are racist. I have no disagreement. Society in general has elements of racism. Today, now no one is going to change that to a perfect scenario. Hopefully we will get there someday. I believe OPRF is better than most HS's. I see finger pointing on one side and a lot of generalizations being made. I see specifics on the other. If we don't want to accept these current realities, what more is there to say.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:11 PM

Of, and as a result, literally everything gets dumped on the institution. I already acknowledged that institutions have problems, but you missed the point that these are the only things that get addressed, while the responsibilities of parents don't. I am very fair towards ALL my students, and everyone plays by the same rules in my class. I do not speak condescendingly to any of my students, despite the fact the encounter rudeness and disrespect from more than a few, and I spend my entire cont.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:05 PM

OPRF, if you read all my comments, you'd notice that I never said ALL AA students and parents, but I was pointing towards a trend, because my experience has shown me that there is enough of a majority to create a trend. Now, you would not know what this is like unless you've actually been in a teaching position where you've taught a large diverse group of students. Your dismissive attitude is exactly the problem we face, where no one needs to be accountable for there actions, or lack there cont.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:05 PM

These comments below show why this assembly was a waste of time. AA students don't want to hear it, white students don't want to hear it. It was a poor fit for the community at this time. I don't blame the HS. They tried something but it didn't work.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:02 PM

Speedway, I don't know anything about you but I have had kids at OPRF and let me tell you that racism is very rampant among teachers. I would never say that parents should not be involved in their children's lives. But the article is about OPRF and in my opinion, if they started with the staff, they would help the school a lot -- obviously not everything. I definitely don't blame the school but I do know there's a lot they could do to fix their part of the problem. I have seen that firsthand

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 16th, 2013 12:50 PM

OPRF, sorry I don't buy your victimization. I also don't believe that the schools are responsible for raising our children. If a student needs a social worker, this should be suggested to the parents. Then the parent needs to respond to his child's need. Excuses just don't cut it.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 6:39 AM

Rez, you talk about being fair but your comments are consistently labelllng AA students and parents as not involved and not wanting to do the work (lazy?). I don't think you are as fair as you think and I am rather thankful my children weren't taught by you. It goes back to what Dylan was saying -- institutional racism is alive and well and that has a huge impact on students. You are making wide characterizations about a whole group of people you are supposedly "teaching."


Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:12 AM

parents of these students were in my class, they would not be acting much differently compared to their children, in that they expect more but are not willing to accept the amount of work and difficulty it takes to get more. This is why I believe in the importance of addressing the families involvement in their own positive development, because it takes more than a good school to achieve success. People have no problem complaining about schools, but are too scared to address parents.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 2:05 AM

are typically not interested in why their kid is failing, or to hear about their dysfunctional disruptions, but instead focuses on placing blame on the institution or the teacher for not working enough with their kid, or addressing their kid's dysfunction unfairly etc... They refuse to acknowledge that their kid can act in any way other than an angel, and that the institution is over exaggerating the disruptiveness because they don't want to deal with their child... I feel that if the cont...


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:58 AM

my classes more attention than I do the successful ones (that is if they even accept the attention), yet the result is typically the same. I have seen how a lack of will to learn, the inability to spend long amounts of time working through problems and the inability to deal with rules affects one's ability to function well in school. Unsurprisingly I experience a similar quality of entitlement when I meet the parents of these kids and try to explain why they are failing. The parents cont...


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:52 AM

retaining the policies of the class (so everyone is equal), but more often than not, these students become overly disruptive to the point where reason fails and their issues have to be address outside of class. I can point to countless specific examples of this, and I can say that 99% of these students in my schools have been low income AA. Now, we can say, for arguments sake, that the system is failing these students in some way. But I know for a fact that I give the struggling student in cont.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:45 AM

Then they feel it's unfair when they are told the way the lashed out is inappropriate. So, basically, these students feel they are entitled to higher grades than they deserve, from putting in less work and time, and feel that they are entitled to act or react with any type of language, tone and intention they wish. Typically the language, tone and intention is rude, disruptive and disrespectful. I always aim to use discussion and compassion to work through their frustrations while cont...


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:39 AM

The majority of these students that are largely dysfunctional with very little work ethic are always the ones who expect to get an A or a B when the level of work is more llke a D or F. I try to explain why they got the grade they got and how they can improve, but most of the time they are not interested in doing the work to improve, they just want a better grade that they didn't earn. They get angry at the expectation that they need to do more than the bare minimum they done, and lash out cont.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:34 AM

effort into problem solving and working through difficulties in the class... They always feel the grade they get is fair, and they can see exactly how their grade relates to the work they did. I usually have some students that are somewhere in the middle in terms of effort, and they can typically see how the achieved their grade and happily accept it. Then I usually have a group of students who put very little effort into what they do, are at times disrespectful and act out... cont...


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:28 AM

You CAN address this major issue on a large scale, just like how institutional dysfunction is addressed on a large scale, yet parental involvement is not even a real part of the discussion, because it's easy and convenient to blame the institution for failures than it is to blame one self for lack of effort. You know, I've noticed a typical trend in my classes over my 25 odd years of teaching a diverse body of students. I always have a group of students who work hard, put a lot of time and cont.


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:22 AM

of what any single teacher or institution thinks. Do you expect parents to not be involved in their child's development if there is some form is systematic dysfunction? Yes, we can change the system, and that's where all the focus has always been. There may be limitations in whether you can make a parent be involved or not, but you CAN create a wide scale public dialog on the issue focusing on it's importance and place a sense of accountability on parents who know the aren't involved cont...


Posted: March 16th, 2013 1:13 AM

Dylan, Like I said, if there is dysfunction in the school, it needs to be addressed, I'm all for that. That's not the issue, because the discussion is ALWAYS about addressing the school. If you want to talk about institutional equality, the way it currently works in Oak Park is that the majority of attention gets focused on the high achievers and the low achievers, while the middle of the road are more neglected. I expect parents to want to be involved in their kid's development regardless cont.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:27 PM

Rez, I focus on the school because its about.justice. its about equity. Neither you nor i could MAKE a parent be a better parent, but we can change the system. If the system is obviously failing students because of neglect that is a serious problem. Lets say the parents are a big problem. Why do u expect the parents to be involved when the school board and school doesnt care enough to provide equity and the necessary support services?

Mom from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:57 PM

Unless I missed it, I didn't see one of the main reasons my daughter was insulted at the assembly. The speaker apparently asked a question about psychology and when a majority of students raised their hands, she responded, "so you (guys) are educated!" What the heck!


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:53 PM

in upbringing, even though they have the same parents. I don't think we can under value the upbringing one receives in relation to their success in life. The joke is that you always blame mommy and daddy when you go to the therapist, but at the same time there can be a lot of truth to it.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:50 PM

Speedway, you bring up a good point in questioning me. I've thought about that a lot, and I'd agree that genetics plays a part, or mental illness, but still believe that context plays the most significant role. It's like how a family of three kids have the same parents, but their life experience and how they are treated in certain situations can differ greatly. The older kid typically is expected to take on more responsibility than the younger child, and in turn that affects differences cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:45 PM

in the school. The school can help by adding more social workers etc... but that's like saying it's not only the schools responsibility to educate the kids, but also take a large role in installing the types of human attributes that should have been provided by the parent. There is merit to counsilling for kids, but it should not be a replacement for parenting, or lack there of, and that's part of my gripe.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:40 PM

more money? Sure. More tutoring? yes etc... but my point was never to say that the system doesn't need to be improved. My point is that parental involvement is a huge part in determining success (and that doesn't just mean connecting with teachers, but also the general raising and supporting of kids), yet we never address it seriously, and that's a huge problem. Dysfunction starts at home, or on the streets when parents to run around without boundaries, and this translates into dysfunction cont.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:33 PM

development. I never said parental involvement was the only thing that determines a students success or failure, but it's a major factor, and one that does not get address because people are afraid to point the finger at a particular group and say "you are not doing enough for your child". That's why when a certain majority of a certain demographic underperforms, the failures are ALWAYS (officially) attributed to the system. Could schools use more social workers? Yeah, lots more. cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:28 PM

Dylan, I fully recognize other forces (which I already acknowledged) that affect a persons life and how they develop, but YOU missed my point here, which is that there is no "parental accountability" when discussion of student success are brought up. The conversation is ALWAYS how can we fix the school? How can we put more accountability on teachers? How can we get more resources and money to deal with dysfunction? But NEVER how can we get certain parents to focus more on their child's cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:22 PM

Dylan, firstly I could site many examples where parents were not involved, but that would seem redundant. And I DID get your point, but that's one example, and I never made blanket statements saying all parents don't care...

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 2:42 PM

Every individual, regardless of age, gender, or race, makes a series of choices every day. It might be, "Am I going to do my homework?" It might be, "Am I going to shoot at this guy while he's changing his baby's diaper?" Societal and cultural forces might impact your choices, but they do NOT make your choices for you. Every crime is the result of someone's conscious choice. No matter how racist a society is, no one can be forced to commit crimes if he does not want to.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 1:00 PM

Dylan, nope sorry, you are changing what I said. Bullying maybe lacking in some morals but I never said people who bully have no morals whatsoever. I feel you are taking liberties with my words and overgeneralizing. Why?

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:56 PM

Rez - You made a comment before about kids tend to grow up with the morals of their parents and their environment. I agree to a point now and use to believe it more so before. Why is that within the same family, children can turn out so differently. I think there is to some degree genetics involved. Even if children all share the same parents their genetics will not be quite the same.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:50 PM

Speedway, Not intent on blaming parents at all. Far from it. I am challenging you on that bullying=no morals. Bullying has been part of school and young people's social environments for school. Like I said I place more blame on the school for allowing the environment than the attitudes and behaviors that students bring to the school. Furthermore, bullying I think too is a cultural thing, meaning American culture associated with individualism.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:45 PM

Rez, You missed my point. This parent WAS engaged. Working with her child on this things he was struggling with, and attempting to work with the school on getting other supportive and academic resources, but was stonewalled. Not just by the teacher, but by administration as well. The issue there is that the schools are not infusing additional resources and programs that extend the learning opportunities. If a child is behind how does it help to just pass them??

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:44 PM

Dylan, If you put it that way, there is nothing I can say without blaming the parents. Most children develop their morals by the age of 5. They can be learned by parents, but also in the environment (churches, schools, clubs, friends). You seem intent on blaming the parents, young children see their parents and family as the outside world. When they mature they make conscious and unconscious decisions on their own on which path to walk. People have choices.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:42 PM

So couldn't that be an explanation. A district that has the money can address the issues of "short fuse, attention span" very early and at younger ages because they have the supportive staff to do interventions. By the time the child reaches grades when work is more intense, they have had support. Whereas districts that don't have those resources cannot provide those interventions. Couldn't that be an explanation as well? As opposed it just bad parenting?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:41 PM

Dylan, Your example shows the teacher at fault for passing a student undeserving of a grade, but it doesn't show that the parent was involved. Yes there is such dysfunction in a lot of CPS, but having experience in such institution I can also say that if such teacher were to raise the bar (so to speak) you'd have something like a 10% pass rate, and it's non-PC to try to get parent to make their kids work and not be dysfunctional, so the blame get put on the system.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:39 PM

ESPECIALLY when the students at the schools I am thinking about are encountering stressors that many adults don't have to deal with. Lack of nutrition, community violence, etc. They see violence regularly and experience other tramas but are not afforded a Full Time Social Worker at their school? How is that equitable? Another example of the institutional racism/classism.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:37 PM

Rez, Also, don't think think the fact that many schools in low-income neighborhoods usually do not have a full-time nurse or social worker could be an issue too? My Uncle is a school social worker and they have TWO full time social workers for a grade school. Whereas I have been to many schools in the city that have a part-time social worker that they share with another school. That doesn't contribute to the issues students have?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:35 PM

Rez, I do not disagree with you on parent engagement. But I challenge you on how many parents truly don't want to, or don't try to engage. Because that hasn't been my experience. My experience is the opposite, parents wanting to be engaged, but the school not wanting it, or not accommodating it. Ending an IEP meeting right when the bell rings because they don't want to stay later. Not returning phone calls, not setting up different meeting times.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:32 PM

Furthermore, If you work at a school then you know about IEPs. If you have been involved in IEPs you know that, or I hope you would know that, sometimes Administration or even teachers do not want to provide all the services or help that is necessary because they can't afford it. I hear about this all the time. Parents NOT being involved in the IEPs because the school is threatened by the possibility of having more work, and not having the funding.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:32 PM

problem positively all the way to the end. Kids can only deal with school properly if the come in with a good base (not academic level). The problem is, some parent think that it's the schools responsibility to deal with anything and everything regarding education, and outside of schools time is for whatever the kid or parents want to do. Successful education is a partnership between schools and parents, and both parties need to be responsible for their parts.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:30 PM

I was with a group of parents yesterday. One parent was explaining how she had to battle with the school to make them stop simply passing her son. They didn't take the time, and claimed they didn't have the resources to work with him. To get him up to grade level. So they just passed him. Hers is just one story. So how was that her fault? She was down at the school all the time trying to get more for her child and the school wouldn't. How do you blame her?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:28 PM

Speedway, So the students you mentioned lacked morals? So all young people who bully lack morals? If they lack morals, why is that? You say you learned morals at church, but your parents got you to church, so your family is still responsible for your morals. So again, you are blaming the family. Saying they didn't instill the morals, or they didn't have the kids go to church to learn them. Bullying is not a good example, because as I said,all young people do it. Bullying happens in Church!


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:28 PM

Dylan, yes, I am saying a lot of the problem lays in the fact that parent under prepare their kids for school, and yes, the one's that don't do so well typically have short fuses (meaning they give up on difficultly a lot sooner). It is not expected that parents know all the academic material, or are even able to help solve problems... what IS important is that parents have expectations of their kids and don't let them get away with taking the easy road or not following through on a cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:25 PM

Rez, Its not the fact that research shows that black males disproportional receive discipline for the same behavioral issues their peers display? Firstly, I think its great you have taken the task of teaching students of diverse backgrounds. It can be challenging. What I challenge you on is that you seem to fully focus on the family and the student, omitting the plethora of environmental factors that contribute to outcomes for students and families.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:20 PM

Rez, What I am not hearing from you are the environmental influences. Racism at the individual and institutional level. Speedway gave an example, teachers ending classes early. Teachers simply not have the expectations. Institutional are the barriers that are created due to policy. Do those not influence students and families? Its all the family's fault for their circumstance, not the fact that their neighborhood lacks a good school, library, decent food, and safe streets?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:19 PM

Speedway, I agree with you regarding morals, though I do believe that children are a reflection of their parents and upbringing (that could also include where they grow up and friends they grow up with) in the majority of the time, morally speaking.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:18 PM

Rez, I apologize, I should not have lumped you with Speedway. My contention was, and still is your comments in terms of culture. So you are telling me that many Black students have short fuses, short attention spans and this is is due to the lack of good parenting. So again its back to the parenting. That you are saying there is a defect in the parenting of a majority of African American Parents. I mention education of the parents, because that can determine how much help they can provide.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:16 PM

The fact is, the greater amount of time one puts into rigorously solving a problem, whether that means an academic problem or and emotional problem, the greater possible level of success one will have at solving the problem. This ability to put rigor into problem solving is not dependent on having advanced degrees or money, it has to do with having the will and self discipline to instal such habits in your child, so your child doesn't give up or lose it at the first instance of difficultly.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:14 PM

Dylan, you felt I had no experience with AA kids. While limited, I shared my personal experiences with you. Where you assumed I blamed the parents of these kids for their actions couldn't be more wrong. I blame the kids for their lack of morals. They just happened to be AA, because this environment we shared at the time. Morally, how about respecting oneself, as well as others. This is a value I try very hard to live by, it transcends. I learned it at church not from my parents.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:06 PM

It is a cultural thing.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 12:04 PM

being thoughtfully active, i.e. constantly finding opportunities that may help their kids and taking care of bad habits and dysfunctional attitudes that stunt positive development. The student that lag behind, typically AA in this case, have short fuses. They give up on difficult problems sooner, give up on being able to positively address confrontation sooner etc... This has to do with the lack of positive reenforcement, discipline and expectations certain parents provide... cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:57 AM

frustrations, and positive problem solving. This has nothing to do with whether mommy has a graduate degree, and has more to do with whether parents installed certain expectations in their kids from an early age and kept it up. It's a cultural problem, and before you jump the gun again, I'm not equating "Culture" to "race". Being "involved" doesn't always mean being present all the time, as both poor and rich parents have to work or have free time, but it has a wider means including cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:53 AM

encouragement for the child. I comes down to setting up opportunities for your child such as taking the initiative to go to the local library (free for everyone) and getting books etc... As a general rule, the students that perform the best in my classes are the Hispanic and white kids, with the black kids trailing (with exceptions). The mental intellect is generally on par between all the students, but the difference lays in the motivation and ability to rigorously work through problems cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:48 AM

Dylan, I've taught diverse bodies of students for many years. The typical racial makeup of the classes are usually 40% black, 30% Hispanic and 30% White. I've met and been involved with parents regarding their children's education for a long time, and some come from wealthy educated backgrounds, others do not. I'll tell you straight up that being able to help your kid develop does not come down to having a graduate degree, it comes down to providing certain continuous expectations and cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:41 AM

and we are dealing will issues that affect Oak Park. I think you need to actually read what I'm writing before making assumptions.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:38 AM

Dylan, please re-read my comments, I never said, or even alluded to race being the factor for dysfunction, and acknowledged the wider societal forces at work. What I did say was that the dysfunction in Oak Park is largely attributed to AA, and this needs to be acknowledge, discussed and addressed. Do you see the difference? Regarding the nation, notice I talked about white people raping native Americans on reserves as a trend... Also, we do not live in Michigan, we live in Oak Park cont...


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:30 AM

I was bullied by white students in school. And had similar events as your described by white students, and I am white. How do you explain that? If bullying is associated with race why do white students bully? Your argument holds no weight. Young people bully. Period. I blame administration and teachers for not doing something to address that. And we all know 10 plus years ago we did not have the attention on bullying as we do now.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:27 AM

Speedway, You mention values, and seem to allude that there are parents, particularly African American parents who do not value education, or do not value their children's lives. Why would you make that statement or assumption? What is your evidence of this? Why do you seem to be assuming that it was the student's race and background that made them bully? If that is true, how do you explain the class of white students playing jokes on a white teacher I have? Putting tacks on her seat?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 11:22 AM

Speedway, I don't quite follow. So you are arguing that only Black children bully? I still think you are drawing a too close connection between the person's race and their actions, while neglecting other factors. Firstly, your comment on the teacher validates what I am talking about, an environmental impact that contributes to an outcome. In terms of the other things. That is bullying. I don't kept get the reason for mentioning it. Children and young adults bully. That is not race...

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 10:50 AM

What transcends race is basic values. When we share basic moral and ethical values there are no color, no religion, no age discriminations.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 10:25 AM

a group of AA girls who was targeting a shy girl at my lunch table with a cup of leftovers in her head daily. I was surrounded by 8 AA girls who were intent on picking a fight. I managed to avoid a fight but they followed me to my next class, picking at my clothes, and trying to trip me on the stairs. My husband and I have a few close friends who are AA, but they share our values. Add to that my two ex-brother in laws and my adorable niece and nephew.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 10:16 AM

To Dylan, I grew up in Austin, near Central and Chicago. I went to Austin HS. I never learned algebra in HS because the teachers kept quitting before the 10th period. I saw my friends have garbage dumped on them in the lunch room everyday for no reason. We hid under the lunch table when the major food fights started by AA occurred with plate, silverware, and tray throwing. I saw white teachers being pushed down the stairs, When I stood up against


Posted: March 15th, 2013 9:01 AM

So to Speedway and Rez, I would encourage you to learn more, experience more. You seem to want to have an opinion on this, but frankly I feel like your opinion is ill-informed. I challenge how many working families of color you personally know and work with on a regular basis. I even challenge simply how many families of color you know personally in general, because you make very broad statements that echo individuals who have opinions, but don't have experience.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 8:58 AM

This idea that certain parents don't care about their children's school performance is completely unfounded. I have worked with very wealthy parents, and homeless parents. ALL have been concerned about their children. The issue is time and resources. If you have time to spend because your job is flexible, then you CAN be more involved. If you have a graduate degree you will be able to help your child. If you don't, you still have that desire, but maybe not the skills.


Posted: March 15th, 2013 8:56 AM

Speedway and Rez, It seems that it is you two who are focused on race by defining the individuals as dysfunctional, and neglecting to see the environments that influence people. How about looking at how many students from low-income neighbors move to OP when they get to high school? Could that account for the achievement gap? Or how about the fact that many ethic minority students in OP still come from working class families? Could that account for gaps?


Posted: March 15th, 2013 8:54 AM

To Rez and Speedway, You seem to be focused on the individual, and neglect to see what the environment does as well. Furthermore, comments like "the race card" express some of your misunderstanding. It isn't about race and it is. Someone isn't dysfunctional because of their race, they are "dysfunctional" because of the environment they grow up in. Rez, who is going down Mich. ave and beating up people? And actually at the national level whites commit more homicide.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 8:50 AM

cont. there are still so many good AA out there. There are so many great people out there of all races and yet we share some bad people too.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 15th, 2013 8:44 AM

I hear what you are saying. Sounds like if AA parents will not take the responsibility for their children, than the community should. Afraid the white community is too afraid of reprisals from AA to stick their necks out to far. I see to often just how fast the "race card" comes out when people make some of these same comments you are making. We have learned that it is better for AA to say it than for a non-AA to say what is so obvious. I still find it hard to condemn a race of people when


Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:24 PM

a regular basis to rob, steal and assault. They don't go around Michigan avenue in large mobs and pick people to beat up based on their race, they aren't the one's shooting people on a mass scale, babies and teens included etc... I swear, are people completely blind? Or do they just not want to be the person who says parents need to be accountable for their children, and communities need to hold dysfunctional people accountable?


Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:19 PM

but people don't want to talk too much about it, and articles even omit race, even though it's a part of the description, because majority of the time it's someone who's black. Now, that doesn't mean black people are any different than white or Chinese people, but it does show that for whatever societal, historical or cultural reasons, the majority of dysfunction and academic lag around the village involves AA. Yes, the mob is bad, and white, but they don't come into the village on cont...


Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:13 PM

is starting to be acknowledged, but I doubt you'll see hoards of white people rallying about being stereotyped, because the fact is, there is an overwhelmingly amount of white people raping women and girls there. So, what is the problem with this village and it's residents, that they can't address alarming trends due to worry that someone may get offended. Look at the police blotter every so often, and you'll find that the majority of criminals are coming in from Chicago and Maywood cont...


Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:08 PM

Lived here, while I agree that it's unfair to paint an entire community a certain color, we also have to acknowledge when an overwhelming majority of crime in a city is committed by a certain group, and we have to ask why and how can we address this? There are many wonderful black people, but that doesn't mean we should not acknowledge trends within certain certain communities. There's a substantial problem with white people raping native American females on reservations, and it cont...


Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:00 PM

Violet, I completely agree that a major part of the problem is the inability on the villages part to address parental involvement in relation to the achievement gap. I'd imagine that we'd have substantial demonstrations even at the suggestion that certain groups of parents are not involved enough. There have been enough studied to suggest that parental involvement is essential to academic performance and character development, yet we'd rather stick out heads in the sand to be P.C.

lived here a long time  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 9:59 PM

OP transplant - I'm really wondering why you moved to OP. Your comment about the need for the AA community to engage in introspection given the number of kids being "murdered in the street" gives the impression that you think all African Americans are responsible for the violence in some parts of Chicago. Should Italian Americans engage in introspection over the actions of the Mafia? Is it possible that the OP AA community is here because they value a life without violence?

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 7:37 PM

Cont. Since we cannot blame racism and we cannot blame unequal materials, how shall we view this disparity? Everything is looked at EXCEPT the attitudes at home.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 7:36 PM

@Rez: Yes. I find it very interesting that even in OP (the liberal bastion that it is) there are intimations that the academic performance gap and the suspension rates might be racially motivated. Even though studies tracking students have shown that the Black-White divide begins at Grade 3, critics want to place blame on outer forces. So for three years students of both races are on equal footing and then something happens where some Black students start to fall behind, EVEN in OP. (Cont.)

lucz from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 6:36 PM

As a student at OPRF I also found the many factual innacuracies to be pretty offensive. The presenters attempted to make Rosa Parks look like the founder of the civil rights movement (Don't know why) and terribly botched the Necessities of Life. Furthermore, they made many arguments that psychology disproves, and ignored socioeconomic blockades that often make the problem a whole lot more complex. I was offended by how dumbed down this presentation was.


Posted: March 14th, 2013 3:58 PM

For furthering a culture of dysfunction. No, I am not branding anyone "of color" as more criminal than anyone of "non color", but everyone needs to be accountable for what they do, and if there was a majority of white people in the village, or from its boarders that was causing dsyfunction, that would need to be acknowledged and address. Maybe the cold hard data needs to be shown to all the students and parents and discussed, and maybe the shock of that could produce something productive.


Posted: March 14th, 2013 3:53 PM

See, that's the thing. I have black friends that see the hypocrisy with how some AA will get offended when someone uses certain language, and then will go on to use the exact same language and be alright with it. If certain words or labels are so offensive to individuals, than individuals should be equally offended regardless of who's saying it. Just as we are expected to tip toe around language, we are also expected to tip toe around holding anyone who is not white accountable cont...

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 2:59 PM

Speedway - I don't think you have to worry about a "shock factor." My son listens to rap music, so he's already been exposed to the fact that there might be just a little violence in the African American community. Similarly, he's heard AA artists use racial epithets even stronger than "colored." By comparison, the assembly wasn't really all that offensive. He did report, however, that it wasn't very good.


Posted: March 14th, 2013 2:52 PM

Violet, you hit the nail on the head when you say that people are way too sensitive. We are pussy footing around the problem, and no one wants to truly address it because they are worried that they will be branded a racist. There are large societal problems like lack of positive parenting, being poor, coming from a culture with "no snitching" rules etc... But the stats don't lie. The problems with violence will only continue as long as people are too scared to say it like it is.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 2:41 PM

Well, if they were looking at the shock factor, certainly an attention getter, I believe they got it. If the point was to discuss their feelings in class. Many students might feel angry enough to explore their anger in a group discussion. If that was it, than maybe the program had some limited success.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 2:17 PM

The assembly was not intended to be about bullying, but rather about preventing violence. The program is called SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere). I'd suggest a change to "Students Against Violence Everywhere Except Violence in the AA Community In Chicago, Which We're Totally Cool With". It's clunky, but less offensive.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:56 PM

I just read the OPRF Principal's statement on the racial incident at OPRF and found it balanced, logical, and worth posting. "In discussing Rosa Parks, one of the speakers, a person of color herself, referred to "colored people." I believe she meant to echo the language of the 1960s in a sarcastic way, but that point was lost. The presenter also stated that a long history of oppression and marginalization may lead people of color to respond to situations angrily and asked that students try to recognize and let this anger go. The take-away for many in the audience was that students of color are to blame for violence." According to TribLocal, the district paid a fee for the presentation and plans to seek a refund.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:52 PM

As for your comment about students being offended, my contention is that today we are not being honest in our discussions and this is why people are way too sensitive and use "offense" as a way to silence honest explorations. But when we see a 6-month-old baby dying after much recent fanfare about senseless violence (Hadiya's death), the worry about hurting feelings should be over. We need to squarely face the truth of the matter and statistics help keep it real and focus on an epidemic.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:48 PM

they were from Maywood. Whether the kids were illegally attending the school, I am not sure. In any case, some of this pathological behavior may be considered normal in other areas. When I lived in my former suburb and inner city residents began coming in, they were play-fighting in traffic on a busy street! I had never seen such odd and self-destructive, useless behavior in my life. I also witnessed one boy shove his "friend" in front of a Pace bus. We need to stop look at this thru our eyes.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:45 PM

@Longtime OPer: I was raised in OP so I know the score there. First of all, I bet many of the Black students attending OPRF have had some history and/or ties to Chicago. Didn't an OP or former OP student die on the South Side recently? There are also other areas from which these kids hail (Maywood, Broadview, Hillside, etc.) where they may have interacted with former Chicago residents. There was a fight in front of OPRF which involved ADULTS filming teen girls fighting and I believe (Cont.)

Long time Oak Parker  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:30 PM

I also don't think it's fair to say the students don't have a right to be offended by language. I am an old timer so my parenting days are in the past but I know that the way to get a kid at any age to listen is not to insult them in the opening conversation. At that point, almost all kids of any age shut down.

Long time Oak Parker  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 1:29 PM

Oak Park is not the city of Chicago however so maybe all the Chicago stats aren't relevant to what was planned at the high school. I spoke to some friends who are staff members from the high school and the assembly was supposed to be about bullying which, while it can be violent, is not quite the same as the gang-banging remarks here and the stats on murder in Chicago. Just my two cents.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:47 AM

If we look at the numbers and round it off to say that the city is basically one-third of each group(which is a bit off, I know), we can see how many more BP lose their lives versus the other groups. And I have not mentioned the GENDER breakdown of perps and victims--males are about 95% of all cases! So when people wring their hands about Black male students getting the most suspensions, maybe the focus should be put on getting to the root of the aggression rather than evening the playing field.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:42 AM

Cont. because according to CPS, 40% of their students are Hispanic! So I believe that some of those responding to the census, etc. still identify as White, which is idiotic, but done by design to tamp down the numbers, I believe. In any case, you do the math and while you can point to White gang members and murders, you have to just deal with the sobering reality of how lopsided the numbers are. Being vague and kumbaya-esque just serves to deepen the denial.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:39 AM

If you want to know why this assembly was...assembled and why the language was likely on the blunt side, consider these sobering stats. According to chicagopolice.org, here is the racial breakdown for murders in 2011: 20 victims were White, 82 were Hispanic, and 326 were Black. In terms of the overall racial makeup of the city, according to the latest info (2009), 32% of Chicago residents are White, 27% are Hispanic and 33% are Black. I suspect that the Hispanic numbers are much higher (Cont.)

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:11 AM

When we develop complex systems of rules about what topics are allowed to be discussed, and what words are allowed to be said, and who is allowed to say this, and who is not allowed to say that, we're building barriers to meaningful discussion. Violet Aura is sometimes blunt, but I tend to agree with her. Oak Park could benefit from a village-wide reading of "The Emperor's New Clothes."

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 14th, 2013 11:07 AM

The assembly was about societal violence. You can't have an authentic discussion of violence without addressing its extraordinarily negative impact on the AA community. The program may have been terrible, but it's now wrong to suggest that the AA community could benefit from some introspection, given the number of kids being murdered in the street. I'm much more offended by the level of violence than by the fact that someone mentioned it at a school assemble ABOUT preventing violence.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:28 PM

First, Violet, there is a lot of discussion and it is now quite acceptable to use "I could care less" to show that you don't care at all. Look it up. Or stick to your guns (or your arrogance?). Secondly, the speaker was NOT African-American (how often does that need to be said on this thread). Maybe you should actually READ some of the posts.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:25 PM

The issue as I see it at the HS is one of anger and how it leads to violence. There are better ways to deal with, or control anger. This is an issue that most of us struggle with at one time or another. I am saying this, and mean it as a broad generalization across all racial lines.

Speedway from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:18 PM

I feel that some of us have tried and to a certain extent succeeded in moving beyond identifying a group of people by one or two characteristics. Blanket statements regarding any race are untrue and cruel. To hear them in any context makes me cringe. I know to many people who I respect, care for and consider friends because of their values and not their ethnic origins.


Posted: March 13th, 2013 8:53 PM

My students weren't particularly offended - but as far as I can tell it's because they weren't paying attention - as in "it was just another one of those things they do that's really just a waste of time." Offensive or not, this program missed its mark and is reflective of Rouse's inability to connect with other than a chosen few.

Trying to understand  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 8:39 PM

It is unfortunate that this speaker missed the mark. i am alarmed that we need an anti-violence week at the high school. I know kids are mean to each other. But is violence really possible? I hope our schools will continue to reinforce the importance of respect, kindness, tolerance for individual differences, and zero tolerance for hate.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 8:20 PM

@OP Parent: Then you care a little bit. You could NOT care any less is what you meant;)

joe from south oak park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 8:01 PM

maybe my south western upbringing doesn't allow me to fully comprehend things like this in a way that others do, but let me see if I have this correct. A Black American speaker uses the term "colored people" in an assembly regarding non violence when speaking about Rosa Parks. This offends the principal who is also a Black American. The principal uses the term "person of color" in the letter describing the speaker while also admonishing the speaker for using "colored people". only in Oak Park

Charles Meyerson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 7:03 PM

The bigger question here is why a religious organization was invited to address students in a public school.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 6:48 PM

@Violet, you don't have to believe me, I could care less. Obviously the administration was not comfortable with the assembly (both of them), the staff wasn't comfortable and certainly the students weren't. It was a presenter who made the comment, not a student. It happened whether you choose to believe it or not. The students, both white and black, stated it, talked about it and complained about it.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 6:29 PM

OPRF: I don't believe you. I don't believe that any student went up there and said that ALL Black teens are violent. She might have been blunt but boo-effing-woo. I am convinced that this PC crap is an Illuminati plot to encourage BP to claim victim status, even when the truth hurts.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 5:28 PM

So they are supposed to respect the viewpoints of people who tell them that African Americans are violent because of the injustices done to them over the years? That is acceptable to you? I am amazed at these comments.

Tolerance from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 4:43 PM

So much for these students, teachers and administrators respecting other peoples' viewpoints, eh? Kind of ironic, isn't it?

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 4:20 PM

(cont) students did not need to listen to this part as it only pertained to blacks and then went on to explain why blacks were violent. I find that offensive whether you all do or not. I am not implying there isn't too much violence in ALL of our society but I don't expect a group of kids to be called out by their race. You can all call them names all you want but the kids (and almost all the staff) were right. This was offensive and I am proud of our students, all of them, for standing up.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 4:17 PM

It's a shame that when a group of teenagers (and for that matter the staff at the school) felt the assembly was offensive, they are being called crybabies and overly sensitive. The whole point was against bullying and violence so thanks for the grown-up remarks, people. The woman who was the speaker was NOT African-American and the term "people of color" has come to encompass many groups. She did specifically say that African Americans were more violent and at one point said the white (cont)

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 2:47 PM

Cont. I have had such accusations hurled against me. It's just a way to derail honest, important discussions on race that get to the crux of the problem. Too effing bad if people were "offended!" Poor babies...I have strolled past OPRF in the last couple of years and the antics I have witnessed made me glad I graduated in the early '80s and not today. It's really a doggone shame that the decorum of a segment of the population is lacking and we are all supposed to excuse it and look the other way

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 2:44 PM

@OPRF Parent: So you dispute the story in terms of characterizing the girl's race/ethnicity? It states she is a person of color. This may mean that she has one Hispanic parent--it does not have to mean that she is a dark-skinned Black girl. And by the way, I seriously doubt that ALL Black teens were described as angry. One thing I find today that is incredibly disturbing is that if someone makes ANY point regarding race and trends of behavior, it's taken as a blanket statement of 100% of BP. TBC

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 1:46 PM

If these delicate students are offended by the suggestion that there is too much violence in the African-American community, then they must not read the papers. There IS, without any doubt, too much violence in the African-American community. I invite you to navigate over the the Tribune's website, if you question that. But God forbid that someone should speak that truth here in Oak Park. In an assembly about stopping violence, no less.

OPRF Parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:50 PM

A very large number of students were offended by this assembly. It wasn't just the term she used (and she was not African American), it was the tone of the message. People of color are violent -- how do you expect a group of teenagers to respond to that? My teenager, who is certainly not violent, was offended & outraged at the tone of the assembly and the implications by the presenters. It's not trivial how others are validated and it can be as simple as the difference between those two terms

The Real Issue Here  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:42 PM

We can't get distracted from this one very important issue affecting most Oak Park folks--The Packers will crush the Bears again this year. Twice.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:32 PM

Meanwhile, a six-month-old-baby (of color) is murdered, shot multiple times by an adult male (of color). Can anyone really believe that debating how to grammatically connect the words "people" and "color" makes a damn bit of difference? Please read Violet Aura's post below. Maybe several times.

op parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:22 PM

"People first" language is important and has ramifications across many characteristics. It reflects a desire to be recognized first as a person, rather than by a single demographic. For example, I know many people with diabetes who object to being labeled "diabetic" because although they have diabetes it is not the only aspect of their person and their lives. A non-racist society will see race, but only as one of many characteristics. "People first" language matters.

Utterly Offended from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:10 PM

I am offended that YOU are offended! How offensive!

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 12:05 PM

I'm not black, but I'm not white either. I kinda think I may be a "person of color" but I'm not sure, not having received the memo dictating which words we're supposed to use. I think we're all getting a little sensitive. In the Tribune, Alexian Brothers (can they call themselves "brothers"?) say they've never had this kind of negative response to their programs. Welcome to Oak Park, you past-participle-usin' racists! That'll teach you to speak out against violence!

OP parent  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:52 AM

Rouse + religious group = "preachy" comes as no surprise. Nor does Rouse's failure to gain a full understanding of what would be presented or consider how it might be perceived. However, as much as I am accustomed to Rouse's inability to consider any points of view except his own, it was still humiliating to listen to this fiasco being described on local radio this morning.

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 11:48 AM

"Colored" was the PC term in the 1950s! Society has clearly jumped the shark in its obfuscation of the REAL issues plaguing our community if people will "get offended" by the use of a term appropriate to the time of Rosa Parks. What is the race of the Principal, by the way? S/he should not have put out this statement. Too reactionary and guess what? Sometimes being "preachy" is the right way to address things! I am tired of pussy-footing around (sorry, shall I say 'female genitaling it'?).

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:50 AM

"People of color" uses a prepositional phrase, while "colored people" uses a past participle. If you can't see the white supremacy inherent in that grammatical difference, then you, sir, are clearly a racist! I hope you're ashamed of yourself!

rick from Oak Park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 9:21 AM

If you don't know the difference between "people of color" and "colored people", then you're part of the problem.

typical oak park  

Posted: March 13th, 2013 7:18 AM

How is phrase "people of color" used in the apology letter any different than the use of "colored people" by the speaker?

Jacob Meeks from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 9:43 PM

The speaker who used the term "colored people" was not African American and, although she may have been a woman of color, for her to use "colored people" and then to insinuate that African Americans bear responsibility for the violence in Chicago and for the violence of white supremacy is blaming the victim and suggests that white supremacy itself is not a violent act.


Posted: March 12th, 2013 8:45 PM

OPCitizen, I couldn't agree more. There are more churches in the Austin area of Chicago compared to the vast majority of Chicago, yet their preaching has done little, and at times has made things worse.

OPCitizen from Oak Park  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 4:18 PM

Maybe OPRF should have though twice about having Church representatives preach about morality- they're track record is not great.


Posted: March 12th, 2013 1:32 PM

I'm glad to see that OPRF students not only have the courage to speak out when offensive rhetoric is being preached, but also have the maturity to react in a positive way. The principle handled this well, considered the failure of the presenters. Hopefully this will be a springboard for addressing violence in a positive way.

Matt Baron from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:53 AM

Wow....sounds like they went far beyond acceptable language. Curious if any prior schools had an experience anything remotely like this? Perhaps the high school needs to do a more thorough vetting process before bringing in an organization like this one. And perhaps OPRF would be in the right to alert other schools to their disappointment with this particular presentation?

Colette Ann Verdun from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:52 AM

no good deed goes unpunished. Everyone thought they were doing something good but everyone is offended.

Colette Ann Verdun from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 12th, 2013 11:50 AM

monologues of violence?

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