Over decades as Oak Park’s public elementary schools and Oak Park and River Forest High School have grappled with diversity and equity, the quiet third leg of our connected local public schools, River Forest’s District 90, has been left to its own ways.
The question, if asked at all, was more likely to be whether affluent and mostly white D90 families were still sending their kids to OPRF in healthy proportions or diverting them to private high schools.
That divide had historic roots. But as has been phrased and paraphrased, the arc of River Forest’s history bends toward equity and inclusion. We’ve seen the gratifying evidence of this in recent years in the village as the student body has grown more diverse and the district, in ways small and large, has worked to welcome and accommodate all students.
Earlier this week, after press time, D90 joined districts 97 and 200 for a town hall focused on equity.
The River Forest district’s strategic plan, its focused committees, the words of its board and its superintendent have been plain on aligning its actions with its goals.
Direct evidence of that sincerity will come this month as the school board is widely expected to adopt a “welcoming schools” resolution putting it in line with the growing number of school districts and villages in voicing the rights of its immigrant students and families. In a nation unwilling to address a broken immigration system, it is left to fair-minded local entities such as D90 to speak plainly.
We’d note that when approved, D90 will be the only River Forest government to have taken such action. Time for the village government to take this step as well.
Equity in schools is complex and difficult. But in our near 40 years of observation, we have never seen our three public school districts so ready to be conscious and aggressive in seizing this opportunity. It is a heartening moment.