Untruth #1: The fall 2019 OPRF community curriculum presentations were billed as community conversations. In fact, the title page was labeled “Freshman Curriculum Conversation.” Parents who attended these info-sessions quickly understood they were not two-way conversations. Nor were these sessions intended to foster further community deliberations. In no uncertain terms, these meetings were good old-fashioned “road-shows” trying to sell something.
During one of the presentations, a parent asked how the effectiveness of the pilot program would be evaluated to ensure we were getting the student outcomes we want from such a program. The answer was quite telling. It was explained that the pilot was never intended to understand if students were positively or negatively impacted academically, just how to make it easier to implement for the administration and teachers. Detracking was happening and these “conversations” were about telling us how it was going to happen.
The speaker said, “Based off what we see here, we do believe that combining these classes IS the path to go, there is NO DOUBT about that … but the idea of backing away … is something we are not willing to turn away from.” I encourage our community to listen to the entire school-produced presentation here to judge for themselves. For those looking for the pilot program discussion, tune into hour 1, minute 25, second 6. By the way, the pilot program was cancelled. Why?
These “road shows” were never intended to be conversations with the hopes of learning what parents wanted for their children. The message to parents and taxpayers was: You already bought the product the school is selling with your taxes anyway, thank you and move aside.
Untruth #2: During the most recent OPRF Board of Education meeting, board members suggested that our community obviously supported OPRF’s detracked curriculum initiative because people voted for pro-detracking candidates during the last election. This simply is not true.
I voted for Tom Cofsky because I thought he was thoughtful. Tom seemed to appreciate the value of historical data. He liked looking at numbers and trends and seemed reasonable. I still think that today and appreciate his service. However, before voting for Tom, I knew he favored OPRF’s detracking plan even though I didn’t. I believed Tom would continue to look at data and to continue to listen and learn during his service to our community. That is why I voted for him, not because of his position on detracking. Many people are not single-issue voters. And, sadly, there was only one candidate who wanted to understand the actual OPRF specific plan before committing to it.
So while I don’t believe the last election was a referendum on detracking, the next election is now shaping up to be just that. Our children would have benefited from a community coalescing around an agreed upon path with full transparency, more relevant research, honest dialogue and deliberation, and a true pilot with student achievement at the center of that process. We unfortunately did not get any of that.
Now that our board brought it up, maybe we do need a referendum on detracking?
Ross Lissuzzo, a former Oak Park resident, lives in River Forest.