Before October closes, we expect that leaders at Oak Park and River Forest High School will have voted to take the next critical step in raising expectations and opportunities for all students who enter the freshman class next fall.
By affirmatively expanding the plan to offer every freshman rigorous, high-level courses in history, English and world languages, this school will have broken the back of the historic tracking policies which from the get-go have placed the majority of students of color in lower-level courses.
This step will expand the program begun a year ago that ended freshman tracking in science by offering a single curriculum with more rigorous work expected of all.
In a presentation to the board and community on Oct. 14, administrators and division chairs in English, world languages and history explained the work they have done over two years to prepare a new freshman curriculum. The history chair, Amy Hill, told the school board her teachers have already experimented with a joint class of college prep and honors freshmen and found a strong outcome with all students.
The goal is to give opportunity to every new OPRF student to prove themselves, to chart their academic path rather than having an outcome predetermined by their performance on entry exams or their history in elementary school.
Will there be things we learn along the way? Sure. Let’s hope so. And, as discussed at the board table last week, the school needs to much better explain this major restructuring of the freshman curriculum. It’s complicated and there is misinformation and some confusion out there in our villages about what this is and what it isn’t.
We see great potential in this significant step for every one of our children. And we are proud to see a school we have long-criticized as being too timid on equity take this bold and necessary step.