It is clear that student academic achievement is not just the responsibility of school officials and teachers. Students, of course, bear a central role. So, too, do parents. Finding positive and effective ways to pull more parents into the school community has proven difficult in Oak Park and elsewhere. That is especially the case when it comes to minority parents.
So the success of Irving School's Learning Community Initiative (LCI) is particularly gratifying. Once more, Irving School, the ugly duckling of Oak Park's system just years ago, is demonstrating how it is done. No more a school suffering from low test scores as well as poor self-esteem, Irving has become a pragmatic and inspiring laboratory for many issues several Oak Park schools face.
The LCI is a constructive, rather than a reactive approach to drawing in, welcoming in, inviting in all parents. Drew Carter's story today reflects the power of positive outreach across sometimes uncomfortable racial and socioeconomic boundaries. Just beneath the surface, most every parent shares worries and hopes, frustrations and aspirations for their kids. Getting those parents together, lowering barriers, is an essential step to bringing more parents actively into school affairs whether as members of a PTO or APPLE group, as room parents, tutors or in some other aspect of community building.
What's plain to all is that involved parents create invested students. The Irving LCI is a model that other Oak Park schools and parents should look to.
For almost two years, those who have participated in the LCI have created a strong, active network of parents, who have worked to lend support to students and school goals. The results are tangible. There are many more parents turning out for parent teacher conferences and school open houses. Some 80 percent of Irving parents turned out for last year's open house. Now that is a powerful message for kids to watch.
LCI has also worked effectively with other school organizations, such as the PTO, and has found a respectful way of approaching a progressive school administration.
The role of parents in schools can be complicated. District 97 spend considerable time last year looking for the balance as it endlessly debated a "civility" policy that would work as a basis for parent and teacher interaction. Civility policies would be needed less if there was more involvement and openness of the front end of the process.
Closing the achievement gap is complex. But, perhaps, in some respects, it is also easy.
Don't forget Peter D'Agostino Oak Park is a community that, fortunately, sees few murders such as that of Peter D'Agostino. This tragic event has left the community anxiously on edge, waiting for the police to announce that the case has been solved.
We know the police are conducting a thorough investigation. At the same time, as is often said, they need the community's help.
Though an event such as this is something many would like to put out of their minds, residents must keep it in their thoughts as the case's solution will likely come out of some community-based tip or call to 911.
Harry Potter, again We're aware of both how much fun Oak Park's last Harry Potter celebration was, and how much chaos it created in the community. Fortunately this year, many other communities have taken Oak Park's lead. There will be other Potter celebrations to attract the attention of those in Winnetka or elsewhere?#34;which should keep traffic congestion and general overcrowding down.
We would be remiss to not recognize, however, that this is a wonderful event for families community-wide. So, enjoy the butter beer and human chess games?#34;hopefully this time, in a little more peaceful atmosphere.