Start with disruption

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Disrupt. That's the key word in the draft of a first-ever policy on equity being considered in Oak Park's District 97 public elementary schools.

The district "seeks to disrupt societal and historical inequities and eliminate disparities based on student status." That's how it reads in a December memo from a policy review team working on a policy that will eventually make it to the full school board. 

Oak Park has been giving lip service to matters of race for decades, since racial integration first become an expressed goal way back in the 1960s. Always, though, integration was on the terms of the white established power structure. And while bold and progressive choices were made in our schools, the version of history coming out of that era in Oak Park reads heroically — if you are white.

It has been a slow and painful road for key institutions in this village to acknowledge that all the years they've been taking bows for their good intentions, they have been running schools rife with institutional racism baked in. We recall the OPRF school board member a generation back just sputtering with rage at the charge that his beloved school was, in fundamental ways, racist.

As we've noted over the past two years, both of our public school systems in Oak Park are in a new place. Credit voters who have elected school boards that have actively embraced equity as the single most important goal. Credit those school boards for hiring superintendents — Carole Kelley at D97 and Joylynn Pruitt-Adams at the high school — who are committed to the core to transform the culture and the practices of these schools. 

We have also recently touted the bold efforts to tackle equity at the more affluent and less diverse River Forest District 90 schools. 

Incremental change is of little value in this full-tilt battle. That's why it is so critical that the equity policy taking shape in D97 starts with disruption. Bring it on.

Reader Comments

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2018 5:12 PM

OK Dwyer, pick through the poorly worded and badly phrased goals and policies no one can be specific about, and I promise to bother to read your posts to learn what it might all mean. Can't wait.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: January 16th, 2018 1:25 PM

Why, you're absolutely correct, MacMillan, since, as the editorial clearly states, there's "a policy review team working on a policy that will eventually make it to the full school board," nobody can be certain as to what specifics will be in it. But, as I clearly wrote, if you had bothered to read my post, I support the goals of the policy review process. .

Nick Polido  

Posted: January 16th, 2018 11:53 AM

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 16th, 2018 11:28 AM

Mr. Dwyer isn't quiet sure what exactly they are going to do, but he is for it.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: January 15th, 2018 1:24 PM

I'm not "spinning" anything, MacMillan. But unlike you, I'm not dismissing the entire idea because of one poorly chosen word.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 15th, 2018 12:14 PM

Bill Dwyer - badly phrased and as they say, the key word because what they meant was not the softer version you are spinning. All history teaching is going to be political in this town, so maybe the focus should be entirely on math, science and english. Let the kids grow up, read and decide for themselves on the history. Because the spin on history is going to make no one happy around here. They do not teach religion in public schools for the same reason.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: January 15th, 2018 9:43 AM

How is "disrupt" working for the Democrat party? No solutions just pissy sniping! A new chapter in American greatness.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: January 15th, 2018 9:43 AM

Badly phrased, for sure. I believe better words would be "confront" or "challenge." But the intent of the policy is quite clear. And well worth supporting.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 15th, 2018 9:04 AM

disrupt - throw into confusion, throw into disorder, throw into disarray, cause confusion / turmoil in, play havoc with. Nice recommendation WJ, we all need more confusion and turmoil in our life. Especially around the children.

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