We moved here in 1974 to raise our children in an atmosphere without prejudice. We moved here when people made a concerted effort to make this community work. This only worked because it was a rational, reasonable, accepting community where everyone worked together, and everyone’s opinion was heard. 

The taxes were high, but the village tried to accommodate its residents: small perks like junk-away days, plenty of non-metered parking spaces, and no parking on residential streets at night. 

Now we can’t even get a tree replaced. When we called the village, we were rudely told we would get a new tree when the other tree dies. Our streets today look more like Elmwood Park than Oak Park. And furthermore, we are now no longer able to recycle plastic bags. 

Then there is the issue of the high school. I was on its PTO for almost 10 years and was present in the school quite regularly. Back then the principal/superintendent always stood at the door in the morning greeting the students, and the teachers monitored the halls; everything was orderly. There was an open campus policy, and the students felt that they were treated as adults. 

The dean system dealt with the whole child and all of their siblings, so the parents got to know their child(ren)’s dean. All students were encouraged to join a team, a club, or some other activity to strengthen their relationship to the school. We used to remark about how many students bore backpacks full of books and wore lettermen’s jackets with the school’s colors. The seniors graduated in white dresses (girls) and suits with red ties (boys), a tradition that singled out OPRF from all the other high schools and signaled its spirit of excellence. 

Now we are faced with reprinting the high school yearbook at a cost of some $50,000-plus due to a dubious interpretation of a few images as offensive (apparently you see what you look for!). I do hope our taxes aren’t footing this reprint. And why do we need a new logo for the high school? Shouldn’t a re-emphasis on the school’s traditional values suffice?

Regarding the motion to remove the murals in the middle and elementary schools, was there a significant consensus of the general community behind this decision, or has a branch of the Taliban infiltrated the administration? Doesn’t anyone in the school community understand history or democracy? These murals, born out of the WPA arts program of the 1930s, belong to our history — not only the history of Oak Park, but the history of the United States. To ignore history is to ignore who we’ve become. 

And once more the question: Are the Oak Park taxpayers bearing the cost of this decision without having any say in it?

Let me close by asking what has happened to the discipline in the elementary schools? Have we now elevated too highly the rights of the individual over the good of the community? Have we become a society of the loudest competing voices rather than a community of consensus?

Ruth Kreyer is a longtime resident of Oak Park and a former member of the OPRF High School PTO.

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