2005 Wednesday Journal Endorsements
The OPRF board is facing any number of challenges in the next four years, including discipline, the ongoing minority student achievement gap, and, likely, the hiring of a new superintendent. We are pleased with all of these candidates, but our choices are:
? Most of these candidates clearly understand what it means to be a good school board member, in terms of fiscal policy and governance. Unlike the rest of the candidates, however, Jacques Conway has regularly walked the high school halls and truly understands the issues facing a wide variety of kids. While all school candidates give lip service to loving kids, Conway will truly be an advocate for the people who matter most at OPRF?#34;the students.
In just the same way we appreciate candidates who acknowledge that the school's early retirement program was a financial failure, we appreciate a candidate who acknowledges that Oak Park simply doesn't like or do enough for teenagers in this community.
In short, Conway will be a strong, independent board member who will also bring a unique and needed fresh perspective to OPRF.
? John Rigas and Paul Wolfman are not the same person, but we are endorsing both of them for many of the same reasons. They are both bright candidates who are dedicated to sound fiscal policy. We especially respect the tough role Rigas played in negotiating a teacher contract that kept taxpayers in mind. They are also both dedicated to looking at creative ways to close the minority achievement gap and address discipline issues at the school. Their institutional memory will also be of value to the board.
? We are always looking for school board candidates with a notable independent streak, and Dee Millard certainly has it. She may not be well versed in all the nuances of OPRF matters, but we have no doubt that she will get herself rapidly up to speed. She is a good listener, and an exceptionally open and creative thinker. Though we support the most recent teacher contract, we also respect her intentions to serve as an advocate for faculty, as well as parents.
? Valerie Fisher is obviously a well qualified candidate with a wealth of institutional memory. If elected, we have no doubt that she would continue to be an excellent and dedicated board member. We are, however, concerned that she did not seek re-election on her own, and we always look for candidates who are independently enthusiastic about the board seats they seek.