Sometimes we need to look back to look ahead, and then we move beyond the past and re-commit to bettering the future of our children. For two years, I have wanted to voice my opinion on issues that started at Holmes School. Having related issues at Brooks that are now behind us, it is time to frankly discuss these issues. The letter on A.P.P.L.E. tutoring at Brooks just reaffirms that parents are committed to the success and achievement of our students (“APPLE tutoring programs exemplify what’s best about OP,” June 8). Let’s talk.

Reminiscing about my Holmes School days in the early to mid 1990s, I note how things have changed. Back then, if a teacher said something negative or racial to a parent/child, many African-American parents felt this teacher was at best uninformed or at the worst ignorant and in need of training. Taking a deep breath and then letting it go, the parent would have to explain to themselves or to their child that sometimes “we just have to ignore some people because they are plain ignorant.”

That was back then, fast forward to a decade later. In the same scenario now, the African-American parent would react differently. Some teachers and parents supportive of those teachers, expecting a 1990s African-American parent mentality today, may find the behaviors of some parents to be unacceptable. In 2005, a typical African-American parent reaction might be to exclaim, “You can’t talk to me or my child in this manner,” or “I am going to complain to the board,” or “I am taking my child out of your classroom,” or “How dare you talk this way to me or my child”? etc. Teachers may not be accustomed to someone asserting themselves in this fashion or as the children say “putting them in check.”

Today, a lot of the young parents are more vocal. However, you still have the same tenured teachers of a decade ago in the classroom. Old habits are hard to break. Even though there are many young teachers coming into the district, sometimes young teachers may be strongly influenced by their environment and peers. I felt this was a major issue at Holmes School and a problem at Brooks.

Overall, I feel we have good teachers and principals at most of the schools in District 97. We, as parents and taxpayers, have hired teachers and administrators to go about the business of educating our children and this is happening. Parents seem to have a lot of energy and I strongly suggest for us to place our energies in helping our students. By doing so, we let our administrators and teachers perform their jobs well, as we concentrate on helping all students.

I agree that sharing our knowledge and expertise with our students is rewarding. I remember helping students with math at Holmes school on my day off every week. Some of those students are OPRF graduates and others are juniors or seniors now. I still volunteer at Brooks. We have A.P.P.L.E. parents who volunteer to tutor students after work one to two hours twice per week. Silent heroes, Mrs. Michelle Harton and Dr. Austin Harton have given part of their evening twice per week doing Math Academy at Brooks for the last six years. I know because my daughter was one of their first students. I am sure there are other parents helping students achieve and excel. I applaud all volunteers and reiterate that anyone can volunteer.

Michelle Darang-Coleman
Oak Park

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