Thomas Hagerman departs River Forest’s District 90 elementary schools with high marks. On his way out the door to a new superintendent’s post in Winnetka, Hagerman also leaves the River Forest school board and broader community with some things to think about.

We were struck by his exit interview comments to the Journal that the Winnetka post appealed to him not because of the raise involved or because it is a larger system but because the schools in that North Shore enclave had already achieved educational goals that River Forest ought to be pursuing.

Specifically he talked about “progressive education” that focused on children and their development in a social context. He said de-emphasizing testing and data-driven decisions also appealed to him and were already the norm in Winnetka.

Hagerman said first steps toward such an approach have already been taken during his three-year tenure in River Forest. As the school board has now hired an executive search firm and has hopes of hiring a new leader by April, we’d like to hear from the school board about its ideas of what progressive education means and would look like in the village.

Dist. 90 is an excellent school system that needs to always reach higher. We, too, are dubious about the overemphasis on repeated standardized testing. As the hiring process begins, it is a worthy time for a broader discussion

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