Strong and getting stronger: That’s our reading of the proposed District 97 policy on equity after last week’s discussion by the school board and community members.

Long in the making, this long-overdue policy seeks to reshape, maybe upend, how our Oak Park public elementary schools view our collective responsibility to educate and nurture every single child.

With a goal of making final changes by March — before the April school board election — the draft policy is properly direct in acknowledging that racism and inequity are baked into our school system, essentially into every school system. The consequences have been brutal for generations of young black and brown children.

Tinkering about the edges hasn’t worked for the simple reason that the rot isn’t at the edges — it is at the core of the system. This policy says that, addresses that, puts in place methods of measuring that.

We heard many things we liked in the public and board comments last week. Here’s one takeaway from Rupa Datta, a soon-to-retire board member. She sought wisely to separate the progress and determination to infuse equity into our schools from discussion solely of financial resources. The promise has to be that, whether there is loads of money to throw at equity or when cash gets tight, every choice, every expectation must remain focused on growing equity. 

That is the culture shift demanded in this moment. 

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