Getting parents to attend school board meetings

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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In Wednesday Journal's account of the school board candidates forum in your January 23 issue [Equity dominates King Day candidates forum, News], one focus of the article was the discussion of how the school districts might better hear the perspective of marginal or lower-income families. 

Perhaps the question invited the kinds of responses it received, but I was struck by candidates suggesting things like taping the board of education meetings and putting them on the website, or continuing to have some of the board meetings more like town hall forums, or providing meals and baby-sitting at school board meetings to make it easier for parents to attend. 

While I think trying harder to get the perspective of such families is worthwhile, I suggest it will require pro-active reaching out to such families rather than sitting back and unrealistically expecting them to have any desire whatsoever to attend a school board meeting, much less watch a taped version on a website. 

My wife and I had a daughter go through 12 years of Oak Park public schools and while we conscientiously attended every single open-house walk-through of classes, every parent assembly led by the principal, every one-on-one conference with a teacher or guidance counselor, it never once even occurred to us to attend a meeting of the District 97 or District 200 school boards. 

I suspect most marginal and low-income families would share that general disinclination.

Christopher Damon

Oak Park

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