OPRF students protest suspensions of 2 employees

Students staged sit-ins on Monday to protest suspensions of Anthony Clark, Shoneice Reynolds

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Another protest demonstration erupted at Oak Park and River Forest High School on March 4 — the third demonstration in roughly a week. This time, students and community members are speaking out against the reported suspension of two popular OPRF employees.

According to reports that have been circulated by students, OPRF parents and community members, but unconfirmed by district officials, special education teacher Anthony Clark and Shoneice Reynolds, an administrative assistant at the school, have been placed on administrative leave for their parts in helping students organize a walkout that took place on Feb. 26.

When reached for comment on Feb. 4 confirming his leave of absence, Clark simply offered up a quote by Martin Luther King: "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education."

In a statement sent to OPRF community members on March 3, District 200 Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams explained that district officials were aware "that some students are planning another walkout during the school day tomorrow. We understand that they are frustrated and angry, and we are committed to partnering with them to hear and address their concerns."

Pruitt-Adams added that she and Principal Nate Rouse planned to reach out to students on March 4, asking for a meeting to discuss some of their concerns, but that students "should understand, however, that we cannot and will not discuss any specifics related to personnel matters."

Antoine Ford, the student who was the lead organizer of the Feb. 26 walkout, said during an interview at around 8 a.m. on Monday that he and some other students were planning to stage a peaceful sit-in starting second period. As he talked, a crowd of roughly 10 community members stood shivering outside of the main entrance in support of the student activists.

By the end of the school day, a few dozen students could still be seen on a student leader's Facebook livestream sitting on the floor of the common area near the school's main entrance, some confronting Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams in the roughly 11-minute video clip.

"Mr. Clark is not just a teacher," Ford said. "Mr. Clark is a mentor. He comes through for everybody. He does work outside of this building and in the community. For y'all to put him on leave … That's not right."

Other students said that Clark and Reynolds are the only "trusted adults" they believe they have at OPRF.

Jocelyn Meraz, a sophomore at OPRF who helped plan Monday's sit-in, said during an interview that morning that students would not move until the superintendent announces that Clark and Reynolds are reinstated "effective immediately." The students also wanted Pruitt-Adams to sign a document guaranteeing the teachers' reinstatement.

"If she doesn't sign this, then the sit-in will last longer and escalate," Ford said. "It's annoying that when we have good teachers they try to get rid of them."

Meraz said that district officials "are so quick to suspend our black teachers," but when white teachers engage in racist acts "they're not as quick to suspend them." 

Ford and other students have indicated that Clark and Reynolds may have been placed on leave due to their parts in allegedly helping to plan the Feb. 28 march that was designed to commemorate the death of Trayvon Martin and other African American people who have died by police violence.

Ford said that he got the idea for the march after Julian Principal Todd Fitzgerald did not allow him the opportunity to stage a 3-minute reenactment of Martin's shooting death. During the Feb. 28 demonstration — which involved OPRF students walking out of school at 10 a.m. before meeting up with Julian students and heading to the police station — Fitzgerald explained his decision to Ford and other students.

"I didn't feel comfortable having a reenactment of a young boy being murdered here in our school, in a middle school," Fitzgerald said. "In sharing that with the social justice club, we then had some conversations over some other options."

In an interview the Sunday before the walkout, Ford said that he had originally intended for the walkout demonstration to be kept secret from administration officials and police, adding that he didn't want the protest against the racism he feels is rampant in the schools and police department co-opted by those authorities.

Although administration officials have not commented directly on Clark and Reynolds, Supt. Pruitt-Adams told students on Monday that there is an ongoing investigation.

 "No one has been charged with anything," Pruitt-Adams says in one of the Facebook videos. "It is strictly an investigation."

The superintendent said that the administration is "committed to bringing this to a resolution as soon as we possibly can" and that she'll update students on Wednesday.

That investigation is likely designed to explore the extent of Clark's and Reynolds' participation in the planning of the walkout, which both employees attended. Ford said on Monday morning that he had no help from either teacher.

Meanwhile, some community members created a change.org petition on March 3 demanding that the D200 school board "immediately reinstate the teacher and staff member who were suspended after Tuesday's student-led walkout."

The petition chastises the administration's "response of control, contain and punish," adding that "teachers and mentors engaged in this profoundly important work should be lifted up, not made into scapegoats for institutions afraid to show true leadership" and that the "suspensions will have a devastating chilling effect on teachers' efforts to address racial equity issues and must be resolved immediately." As of Monday evening, the petition had garnered 139 out of its goal of 200 signatures.

The district had planned to hold a town hall on racial equity and school safety on Thursday, March 7, 6:30 p.m., in the south cafeteria at OPRF, 201 N. Scoville Ave. That meeting has since been postponed. 

Email: michael@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

72 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Drue Ferguson from Oak Park  

Posted: April 29th, 2019 10:18 AM

Les Golden,the congressperson, ( Ilhan Omar) that you are referring to, did not make an anti-semitic statement...Please, go back and read her statement in context.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 10th, 2019 1:45 PM

@Les, what are you talking about and why are you suddenly pitting Jews against blacks here? That has nothing to do with this thread and it's not helping anything to try to create yet another useless division here.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 3:02 PM

I was joking! .... much worse has been said and I am honored that someone would make fake profile to troll me. Good press and bad press - its all press.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 2:31 PM

LOL - coming soon to an octagon near you - Fake Jameel vs. Fake Christopher. Get the popcorn poppin' folks!

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 1:37 PM

Fake Jameel - I am tracing your IP address and going to kick your as_ when I find out who you are. Be a man and feel free to contact me at 3129536104 if you want to meet.

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 9:11 AM

So Basically someone has gone through the trouble of creating duplication of my name, and is posting on this site.. And we know who it is Boot licking ass kissing Christop Bell. We can play this game until they shut the page down dumb ass. He thinks because he graduated num cum load, he is better..

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 9th, 2019 8:04 AM

What?! CHRISTOPHER BELL DIDN"T WRITE THAT COMMENT. Dude is a pompous a99 but wouldn't do that. And imo most of what he says is oversimplification. But he is entitled to his opinion without being personally attacked. Let's just say that this is someone who is tire of inflammatory, threatening trolling on this site when there are others who just want to have a respectful, honest dialogue about REAL things.

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 10:15 PM

Jameel Rafia from oak park (Facebook Verified) Posted: March 8th, 2019 4:23 PM {{ I'm also sick yall sayin that just cuz I volunteered at some shelter or read some book you get what iz like to be someone you not. I said it ?yall write the same, say the same.. just to make yourselves feel better or look better to the world than yall really are. End of the day, nothing changes just like yall want it. What we need is a place that folks not like this sorry crew feel safe which is not here. Or OPRF...} * THE ABOVED STATEMENT WAS NOT WRITTEN BY MY. CHRISTOPER BELL WROTE THAT, TRYING TO SAY WHAT AN IGNORANT NIGGA I AM. *Chris Johnson, Thank you My Brother

Les Golden  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 8:03 PM

Equity? If a Jewish congressman had made derogatory comments about blacks he would have been forced to resign. But a black Congresswoman can say anything she wants about Jews and nothing happens, except her disgusting smirk widens. Jews died in Selma. Jews led Obama's campaign. What have blacks done to reciprocate except contribute to the intensifying anti-Semitism in this country, ala LaBron, ala the Congresswoman?

Chris Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 6:21 PM

Holy crap - You think you know me? I can tell you definitely excelled in school I can tell you did everything that we are talking about. I can tell that you aren't telling your kids or those around you that if they aren't black they are the enemy. Holy crap. I was born into a "house" that was a shack (I cried when I saw it when I was older). No real bedroom, running water wasn't a given, the kitchen wasn't even a "kitchen", etc. There were 6 of us in that place. I lost a brother because the hospital wasn't good enough. Screw you. People die trying to get into this country to have the opportunity you were born into. *You* are ungrateful. Not everyone. I'm calling *you* out. Hopefully its clear enough. I volunteer because I know the difference THAT I CAN MAKE. What do you do that is so amazing and great to help people? What are you doing to improve things? All I see is someone that is bitter with that status quo. That would rather continue to blame absolutely everyone. You say those of us on here voicing our opinion is a problem. At least its a right we have. Yes, many were born into that holier than thou status but you are also trying to destroy those that worked to get beyond the "status quo." What are the ways you are strategizing to close the achievement gap and end the violence? Jobs, I get that but how do you get every kid to close that achievement gap? How are you "motivating" them... I'm worried to think about it. You aren't the least bit hopeful in reality, are you? Not even for the next generation... It might just upset you further. But I think this is what we are actually trying to get at. For whatever its worth. http://freakonomics.com/podcast/early-education-rebroadcast/

Jameel Rafia from oak park  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 4:23 PM

I'm also sick yall sayin that just cuz I volunteered at some shelter or read some book you get what iz like to be someone you not. I said it ?yall write the same, say the same.. just to make yourselves feel better or look better to the world than yall really are. End of the day, nothing changes just like yall want it. What we need is a place that folks not like this sorry crew feel safe which is not here. Or OPRF

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 12:31 PM

@Rob, your comments are ignorant and offer no value. The teachers are on leave which is the correct action. The school did the right thing and tackled the issue appropriately by looking into what actually happened. Guilt or the exact rules possibly broken isn't something you or I can decide. The school is investigating which is appropriate. The idea that there's no educational value to anything that's happened is also silly. I guarantee you a lot of these students are learning some valuable positive and negative lessons from all this. Your dinner that these kids should be expelled is so beyond stupid. Let's kick out a bunch of kids that may not have any other issues for a couple of non violent protests helps who exactly? These are kids after all. The school is here to help them not hurt them. My son is at the HS and I haven't had any concern that these protests are impacting his education. Putting a bunch of kids on the streets only makes OP worse not better.

Chris Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 11:25 AM

@Jameel: I'm sincerely sorry my comments came out that way with my bias. I did not intend for it to be as a group is silly/lazy but rather that the act of not pushing a child to be their best is. I meant that if a child is struggling or not getting what one thinks they should be getting in school, supplementing at home is the only other way. I used to volunteer at Cabrini Connections to support kids that didn't have parents who could (either financially, time or because they lacked the education). Not everyone can afford a tutor or special classes to support their child - is there a program like this in OP (I have not looked). The school system EVERYWHERE is not setup well. Money goes to the rich schools (the ones that have plenty. Look at all the new expansion plans we have at OPRF! And then look at other pub schools that are falling apart with no funds) and the ones that need it, don't get it. Leaving those children to have even fewer tools. I agree. No arguments. I'm sorry. English is my second language, I was never a strong writer, so I apologize for my blatant bias. I come from a past situation and made the best of it, no one fought like this for us. If I had failed, so what? We all have bias and it comes through in these comments. Parents fight to have the best for their children. That much is clear. Any talk of money heats things up and pushes the bias/race buttons. @Kathleen: I agree - does a liaison do that at the HS level? These kids need to hear differing opinions and thoughts from pre-k. In HS, they have formed many ideals and will take forever to fight them in their lives. Maybe if they tied something else to that $10k extra cash they give teachers when they become a star/golden teacher whatever that is. They have to take equity courses. Work with their students to teach them that a color, face, size, etc still means we feel the same way, love, play, learn, grow, cry, etc. THEN give them that crazy $10k bump. AND parents to support those ideals.

Kathleen Priceman  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 10:36 AM

Dear Neighbors and Friends, having just spent 20 minutes reading the various comments regarding the student walk out and the after effects, I'm wondering how anyone can question the need for a community liaison to assist with equity at OPRF. We need help. It is clear that our community, while espousing our love of "diversity and equity for all" has myriad opinions on what that looks like and even more opinions on how to live it. To some it is a list of required books to read, to others it is prominently displaying yard signs, to others it is walking out, sitting down or speaking up. Probably it begins with respecting each other's right to act and think differently than oneself. I suggest that we all begin to assume responsibility for the lack of rigor, innovation and participatory decision making in all of our Oak Park Schools, Pre-K-12. It is unfortunate that too often parents and students don't discover how ill-prepared their students are for university and life after OPRF until they have graduated with their inflated grades and have to compete in the wider world. All of our children lose when we don't work together to support every child. We have very important school board elections coming up. I suggest that everyone avail themselves of the opportunities to get to know the candidates and vote for those who will bring change to our schools that have bloated administrative staffs, antiquated curriculae and lack of 21st Century thought. Equity and diversity cannot exist without divergent thought and opinions. They also cannot exist when there are serious power struggles within organizations. At this time our schools are being run by too many administrators who neither live in nor understand Oak Parkers. The students recognize this, perhaps the adults should take notice.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: March 8th, 2019 6:24 AM

OPRFHS hides and does not enforce school policies out of fear. Why would any parent in OP or RF or Chicago !send their kids to this circus of a school is idiotic. OPRF creates more problems then they solve. School is for learning. Protest on your own time.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 2:01 PM

Whether one agrees with the protest or not, i think most of us can agree that Rob Ruffulo's comment is idiotic (yet again).

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 11:36 AM

Both teachers should be fired immediately, and any student who left campus should be expelled. Put an end to this joke.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 8:31 AM

@Les that blonde Dagwood statement would be perfect explanation for your comment. I detected your belief about those group of books and I found it insulting. That group of books in my eyes was a group of great books and authors not based on race. Your thoughts went directly to race but didn't see the flawed thinking when you listed a group of books. So yes I agree Dagwood and blondie certainly fits your level of comprehension.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 8:25 AM

@Alex please point out a specific statement from me that lead you to your beliefs about me. Because I most certainly have not said any such thing that you claim. So give me the actual quote from my comment. I want to stop the miscommunication that is happening between us.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 7:14 AM

Katina: Your preoccupation seems to be the division of people into "affected groups" (of victims of "institutional racism") and making assumptions of which other groups are or aren't acknowledging that a problem exists in Oak Park, as you see it. Further, you seem to believe that books read by kids in the district should be based on the underlying racial characteristics of the authors. So, my question for you is whether you believe that that our increasingly racially mixed society where lines between racial groups will be increasingly blurred will make the raced-based activism of folks like Mr. Clark et al more challenging.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 7th, 2019 6:48 AM

When, as a professional actor, I had the good fortune to work with the famed Del Close of Second City, he would refer to the Dagwood and Blondie syndrome, in which in his words "brain dead" people could not understand the actual message that was being communicated in words but took the words, as in Dagwood and Blondie, literally. When I referred to ethnic lists of potential authors in response to RM's race-based criterion, the message I was communicating was not that reading lists should be so constructed but rather the irrationality of book selection on such a basis. Certain people here did not understand what was being communicated. Del Close would refer to such people in his colorful way.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 11:17 PM

@Les you have a list of books you feel acknowledges a well read person and someone else listed a different group of books for suggested reading. You response was "Nice idea, RM. I wonder if the Jewish students, the Asian students, the subcontinent Indian students, the native American Indian students, and the Mexican students would feel about their cultures being ignored." So you are the person that first suggested race into the conversation about books. Now you are flabbergasted that someone is questioning your statements? Seems a bit insincere at this point.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 11:10 PM

@Alex why would you presume race matters to me? Reading comprehension matters to me. So I suggest you re read my comment. I questioned someone else's preoccupation with race representation.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 9:42 PM

Katina: If an author is mixed race, or does not identify with any particular race, does that present a challenge for you? Since you seem proccupied with the racial identity of authorship, it would seem that our increasing melding of racial characteristics will make it somewhat more challenging going forward to practice that type of identity politics that is so en vogue right now.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 8:49 PM

This is truly an abysmal state, when people even consider suggesting that a required book list is based not on the quality of the writing but on the color of the skin of the writer.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 7:21 PM

@Les you didn't show a concern for representation when you listed your random book titles. Why is it your concern now that the list is mainly black authors? I've noticed a few assumptions you made about my statements w/o any corroborating information. Hmmmmm

Ken Hayes  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 6:28 PM

I feel like 12.3% of the required reading (if there is such a thing anymore) should be by black authors and 17.% by Latinx. Seems like about the right percentages based on the makeup of the US population. The student body is made up of about 3500 people and 120 of them felt like they were treated poorly enough to protest. 3% of the school. What percentage of people working would like to be happy enough not to protest 97% of the time?

Les Golden  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 4:05 PM

Nice idea, RM. I wonder if the Jewish students, the Asian students, the subcontinent Indian students, the native American Indian students, and the Mexican students would feel about their cultures being ignored.

Rosemary McKillip from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 2:35 PM

W.E.B. Du Bois, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and many other African American authors, such as James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, and Langston Huges should be on the required reading list for every student at OPRF. However, I wondered if written English is still in the curriculum? Is writing instruction a part of the plan for equity education? Another book I recommend for both students and adults is Becoming (should be underlined) by Michele Obama. It is an inspiring work.

Nick Polido  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 2:30 PM

Katina, Received an e-mail from the High School yesterday, the Thursday town hall has been postponed....

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:50 PM

Christopher.. let me say this please with all due respect, you read people using words such as Lazy in terms of black people, Silly in terms of black people, saying that blacks dont read to their children and all that and you pick me to come at... WOW..not once did you ask others not to race bate.... but you come at me.. hahahahahsh...hahahahahsh

Ken Hayes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:47 PM

Well, that's really helping, isn't it.

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:45 PM

another example of someone thinking because they use words in such a way that they are better...

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:44 PM

@ jameell - pump your brakes. Before you go thug life on me, just consider that you would never allow someone to tell you be quiet. Unlike, your generation that wants to fight any time you are challenged, us O G's prefer to use another weapon - our mind, our game and hustle. So relax young buck - just sayin

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:37 PM

Christopher "how silly I sound" yall study wanna call name and talk shit behind your keyboard I dont sound Silly and I dont Remember talking to you.. and I'm really not the one to start talking shit too.. keep your opinion to yourself you don't know me, ok little man

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:25 PM

@ jameel. Every person here is entitled to their point of view or idea regardless of how silly they sound (you for example). Jason makes great points and some I don't agree with - but we can all respect the other - if you don't like it, I am in big believer don't have to read it or STEP OFF ( mean that in nicest way possible). And yes, some of us (me) are know it alls - but at least we care - once people stop responding you should more concerned as it means don't give a fu_k.

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:16 PM

What's your point Jason.. Some of yall write the same , say the same.. and I personally getting tire of seeing the same people saying the same shit like they experts...

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 1:07 PM

@Jameel, you posted the exact same thing just a few days ago. Not sure why you are writing the same thing all over again. We can all read what you wrote below.

Jameel Rafia from oak park   

Posted: March 6th, 2019 12:36 PM

Yall ever noticed how certain people are in the wednesday journal all over on every story like they the expert on every topic, using Big-Ly words to impress the masses, and then try on the sly to put others down, calling people Silly and Lazy. Yall noticed them. If you dont have anything Positive to add to this conversation go sit yo a66 down somewhere.. Have some Dacurum. Show some respect. Check the quote "Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin' to say But nothin' comes out when they move their lips Just a bunch of gibberish"

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 12:31 PM

Bickering here about the right way to help these kids isn't going to actually help. All points have some validity. It would clearly be great if all parents helped their kids learn and be better people but that's not the reality for all kids so we can't jusy say that's the fix for all issues because that leaves many children caught in limbo. We have to remember the goal is to help the kids not to punish them for having less than ideal parents. On the flip side we can't expect the school to solve all these issues either. There are ways to improve and that's what OPRF should be focused on. As far as the main point of this article I still support the schools decision here while also recognizing racism is an issue at the school. The staff works for everyone not just one group of students. They can't decide to help these students plan things like this because it opens up a giant can of worms. When does it then become not ok to help students protest? These are things that the staff shouldn't be a part of us as it's a slippery slope. That doesn't mean they can't be supportive in other ways and voice their support. Our kids need to be in school and have the opportunity to stand up for what they believe in. Let's just do it in a way that actually constructive dialog. In one protest the kids literally said they want to sit and not speak to any administrators. What exactly does that accomplish? This is about all of our kids growing and having as many opportunities as possible. Let's discuss the hard topics together and not war with each other. That's not going to help anyone.

Jameel Rafia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 12:28 PM

Why yall keep bringing up reading at home, like black people dont read to their children? Is that what I'm hearing..

Les Golden  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 11:10 AM

JBR, CJ is right, and you've missed the forest for the trees. The issue isn't which specific books have been read, but have the parents instilled a love of learning by providing books. The primary goal of education is to instill a life-long love of learning; everything else follows as collateral. That love of learning begins pre-school, at home. KS: I didn't say anything about intelligence, did I?

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 9:53 AM

@JBR read my comment again before you make inaccurate statements about me. I most definitely gave a suggestion for a resolution. Also this very post is filled with comments proving people on OP don't believe there is a problem. And @Les reading that list of books is not an example of intelligence. This group is a prime example of what occurs when people discuss race relations. No one really listens (or read in this case). Everything is understood through a filter. I hope everyone is this "honest" during the meeting in thursday evening.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 9:38 AM

It is almost as if there was just one person in the middle of this, trying to do anything to keep his name in the papers for the next congressional election. Slow news day? Lets have a demonstration.

Ken Hayes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 9:31 AM

Chris Johnson. Amen.

Alex Garcia  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 8:30 AM

Oak Park leftists versus Oak Park leftists. What else is new in the "community" today?

Chris Johnson  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 8:02 AM

JBR: I don't think the issue is not reading those specific books. I think the issue is with not supporting a student at home and pushing them. The fact that you have an AP student that has read other books is fantastic and still hits the same point. Some kids will naturally flock to reading and academia. But many still require a "parent" at home to help and show them through example what it is to achieve more. If someone can come here from China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe, etc And most likely don't have a lot of means/support. Yet their children out achieve (based on what society deems is achieving) more than their parents? what does that say? I've spoken with students from OPRF that have never read any common books and books that would set the platform for understanding business/life. Doesn't matter if they read more books written by black writers, white, whatever. Its important to read from different views (which definitely doesn't always happen? and that's where a parent can help drive it further, no?). I mean, for crying out loud, I spoke with a few students that had never even played chess. Did some research, chess is from somewhere in Africa (blackvoice website). So lets not just say its a "white persons game". I'd like to see more south of the border writers being brought in as well. But guess what? I work on that with my children. Just like I do with math, writing, etc. I also work anywhere from 12-15 hour days. So it is a commitment to support them. But I know it will help them immensely. Don't get me wrong, there are problems in education. But putting that gap fully on the school? That just seems silly and lazy. What will be hilarious is when our property taxes are so high that Oak Park will collapse. So, yes, lets keep hiring more and more people to fix this gap. Those with money and drive will move away and leave the mess with those that didn't care to try but instead blamed everything else. And that goes for any co

Jameel Rafia from oak park  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 7:33 AM

Bless this space* Yall ever noticed how certain people show up on this Wednesday journal on every story like they some kind of expert on every topic: you notice that.?? They try and use Bigly words to sound important, or try and disrespect other on the sky. If you dont have anything Positive to add to the discussion you really need to go sit yo a66 down somewhere. Have you read W.E.B Dubois Malcolm X Message to the Black We know why the cage bird sing Here's the qoute: "Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin' to say But nothin' comes out when they move their lips Just a bunch of gibberish" Dr Dre...fym

Jenna Brown Russell  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 7:31 AM

LG, stop. My AP student hasn't read a single book/author you listed. KS, I don't think this community refuses to admit there are structural issues, they are frequently discussed-and very often by those not directly harmed, to the contrary of your claim. The issue is truly NOT the community refusing to acknowledge a problem unless students disrupt their own and others' learning. We know there is a problem. It's the solution that eludes us. Your reply offered none but protesting. The path of progress is complex, messy and multi-faceted. But it really should involve education-not eschewing it to make a point everyone already concedes.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 6th, 2019 6:17 AM

KS, let's do a research study, you and I, to determine the cause of the grade gap. Please provide the titles of ten classic books, such as Gulliver's Travels, 1001 Nights, or Hans Brinker, or any by Dickens, Sagan, Asimov, Gould, Gleick, or Rachel Carson, that your children have read outside of school and that reside in your home library.

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 7:44 PM

Institutional racism does exist at OPRFHS I know it may be difficult for some to believe. But please educate yourself on institutional racism before marginalizing the experience of others. Every student at school should be given the tools and support to realize their full potential. Those tools and support differs by student/group/gender/race etc. The difficulty experienced with the OP97 and OPRFHS is: 1. Their inability to acknowledge there is a problem. 2. Their inability to have a thoughtful dialogue around the racial education achievement gap that includes experts (outside of the current school administrators) that can give an objective insight to the support needed in place to help all students learn and succeed. 3. The OP97 Snd OPRFHS school systems has an egregious lack of urgency to this matter even kids of color are being harmed by this divide everyday. 4. The silent complicity by the unaffected parents and community members who vest nothing of themselves to help the change occur. They either have a lack of empathy for the effected group or they don't believe the group should be at the schools or they ignorantly believe equality exist at the schools. 5. Then there are willfully ignorant that think not my child not my problem. Huffington Post has a surface level article about institutional racism. It's a quick read that gives some good insight on it. Here is the link: https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_593bff26e4b014ae8c69e0cc/amp

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 6:05 PM

What is needed is a simple framework that effectviely communicates needed changes and easily explained. For example, We want NICE - New Policies, Early Idenfitcation, Changes in Policy and Enrichment for students in need. the reason we are all aguring is we have no idea what is needed /asked for except don't punich teach for not following the rules. This is NOT a policy question - this is all about innovation/process/culture change.

Les Golden  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 5:47 PM

CB: You did not understand my point, I was quoting Katina but failed to put it in quotes. I'll remediate. Katina wrote: "The widening achievements gap between black students vs white students is about institutional RACISM." Really? Please apply Ockham's Razor to this conclusion.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 5:44 PM

@ LES and @ Katina - your comments support my points below. This is and should always be about driving a great education for black kids (all for that matter) and it is that goal which must be focus on protests. For example, we need early identification of low performings students with a plan for each student, or we need after school enrichment just for kids in the gap. Without specifics, the protest loose effectiveness and focus. Yes, racism certainly still exists (as does anti gay, anti jew, anti muslim, etc) but one of the greatest equalizers is a great education/academic excellence - cant argue with it and will create economic equity. Clark is well intentioned but no person is above the school nor free to disobey direct policies - without consequences.

Chris Johnson  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 5:38 PM

@Katina: Yes, you are right. Protests aren't supposed to be convenient. They shouldn't cause harm either. And even in those that don't, there are consequences. People of all backgrounds have protested and been arrested. I don't think these kids did anything wrong with protesting, apart from trying to hide it. My hunch is there'd be a lawsuit if something happened. Boss says you can't do it, don't. The blackface photo is stupid/idiotic. The person apologized immediately, took it down. That person was part of the groups supporting equity and supporting Anthony Clark. He thought it was funny without thinking and should have known better. Celebrities do Whiteface to stir the pot and its funny?, Nick C.: "It's funny how people take themselves so seriously. People love drama! We feed off of it. Just relax and have fun!!" Sadly, many whites try to turn brown ?" can the rest of us that are not "white/black" get offended? Obviously, a joke. Get it? About the N word. I hate that word. I hate any word that is used to take down a group of people/insult them. All of them are terrible. And most groups don't really use them on each other? but whatever. That's what my friends and I did as kids. "Hey S**c, what you doing?" Because that was so cool. But again, NOT ok for ANYONE to be writing that. And they don't get it because whatever you throw at the kid just rolls off because of privilege. I don't know enough about those other people. I agree with what you say. I would have loved equal education. Because I spoke primarily Spanish when I first started in school. They put me in learning disabled classes (lazy teachers). Funny enough, I worked hard (in school/jobs) and my parents supported/pushed. Went to a great uni and ended up in a very good job that pays super well. Oddly, I managed to do all of that without that custom support for equality. Heck, I didn't have the language skills. Like many other immigrants and their kids that excel. hmmm

Les Golden  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 5:24 PM

The widening achievements gap between black students vs white students is about institutional RACISM. Really? Please apply Ockham's Razor to this conclusion.

Chris Johnson from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 4:50 PM

@Dima Ali: I really hope those people that you are targeting for donations on your Facebook page or interviews don't get offended by your negative comments to something not about race. As noted by others - if you have a policy on something it doesn't make it ok to break it (consequences are known). One of the teachers on suspension has been suspended before for posting a photo of a minor doing something idiotic/stupid. As an educator, he should have taken the opportunity to sit with the person who did it and really understand why they thought the behavior was funny/ok. And worked it in a more supportive way. Oh well. More support. Hot dangit. Gun violence is a huge issue for everyone, no? And don't get me wrong - I HATE THAT POLICE HAVE KILLED PEOPLE THE WAY THEY HAVE. But so long as that gun violence keeps poking its head- people will continue to have biased fear. Police are dealing with terrible situations all the time. I'm not excusing what they've done incorrectly - but I'd like to think that they have done far more "good". But they react based on experience too... I imagine that living in Baghdad you developed certain stereotypes for people (or areas, streets, etc) that could potentially hurt you or your family. Even though its also quite possible you would have been ok. Now imagine a police officer working in an area that hates police (seemingly), respectful conversation is not a thing, and if you aren't paying attention, anyone there would love to hurt you. They too have families, children, etc. They are putting their lives on the line to help many people. (police officers are blue ?" not black, white, brown, etc) (completely different situation but think about fear and instinct taking over when someone might kill you.) Don't worry about me. Someone blames where I'm from for being murderers and rapists. I've seen bias first hand. Love being worried about my "papers". But us Latino/as work our butts off and make sure our kids work hard too. No handouts

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 4:28 PM

I can tell from the comments of people condemning the protest that they aren't familiar with the facts surrounding this matter. A white kid in blackface is RACISM. There is no doubt about that. Graffiti on school grounds calling Mr. Clark the N word is RACISM. No doubt about that. The widening achievements gap between black students vs white students is about institutional RACISM. There is no doubt about that. When people feel or say a protest against racism is inconvenient and those protest should held at convenient times for the non oppressed is indeed a bigoted statement. Protest are meant to disrupt the normal order of things because there is a group that has injustice. Protest ARE NOT meant to be convenient and approved by the non oppressed. Also while officially Ms Stovall is on leave to finish a masters program at Stanford, she has also been a catalyst for change there was able to get a class taught about race relations based on the documentary of "America to Me". Anyone who watched the documentary would understand Ms. Stovall was frustrated with the lack urgency in regards to equal education achievement with black students. So if you aren't allowed to use your talents to help students of course leaving to find a fresh prospective would seem to be a good option. I believe had the board allowed her to institute her program at OPRFHS she'd still be at the school now. Also to sully an established woman's career by calling her combative is wrong. I cringed at the way people spoke to Ms. Khan. The disrespect and obvious annoyance be her very presence was so apparent to anyone who has experienced that kind of treatment. I believe it is rumored that Oak Park's beloved Hemingway once said of Oak Park "wide lawns narrow minds". If he said it or not there seems to be a bit of truth in the statement.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 2:02 PM

This issue isn't about race or the abilities of the staff in question. It's about working at a job and adhering to the rules where you work. Imagine if the teachers helped organize a march for white pride for example. This wouldn't happen but that's not really the point. The school can't say it's ok for teachers to help organize only certain marches like this. It has to be a blanket policy. I doubt the consequences will be severe nor should they be but it's fair to investigate and find out if these people broke the rules. This isn't a free speech issue. It's a a workplace rules violation that's all.

Nick Polido  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 1:28 PM

Katina Hayes, Ms. Stovall is taking a leave of absence to teach a course at Stanford based on the series America to me according to the Sun-Times, hardly a banishment. Ms. Khans combative style with the teachers and parents not to mention her declaration that she would not even send her son to Brooks might be interpreted as not the right fit.

Christopher Bell  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 11:46 AM

No individual is more important than school and its mission (or any institution). Kids should protest with clear roles and goals but there are dimishing returns after first /second time. (like eating your third big mac). My parents Academic excellence and hard work are the best way to work toward equity - its what my mom told me and we tell our kids (my OPRF senior is going Ivy LEague in fall). What kids need most is help in classroom getting great grades finding summer/long term jobs and executive function - as long as protest focus on those objectives - go for it.

Nick Polido  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 10:59 AM

Dima Ali, I missed that part about the lil Princess? Do you care to elaborate?

Ken Hayes  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 10:35 AM

And Dima Ali. I don't know about you, but I can't see what color someone is through a comment on here. It is all black and white, but that's just the font that was chosen for us. I believe you have the only comments calling anyone out negatively because of their race. Black lives matter - yes but so do all others. Walkout because of gun violence in schools - don't agree with doing that on school time either. This isn't a race issue. If a white teacher was organizing this walkout he/she would face the same consequences. I'm pretty sure the people making these punishment decisions are about the same color as you (and maybe me).

Les Golden  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 10:35 AM

The suspension of these people has nothing to do with racism. The supervisor gave an order. The subordinate ignored that order. Without clear and respected lines of authority, chaos ensues, and, if allowed to fester to an extreme, destroys the fabric of society. Our massive Oak Park tax dollars are spent mainly to educate. These disruptions interfere with that mission and squander our taxes, both for the participating students and those in class aware of the disruption. If the students want to protest, do it on Saturday or Sunday or holiday, stop your selfish goals from disrupting the orderly process of education, and let those students who want to learn in the classroom, learn.

Ken Hayes  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 10:24 AM

The kids job is to go to school and learn about math, science, language and arts. My daughter couldn't get to her English Lit teacher yesterday to ask a question about an upcoming assignment because the "protesters" were blocking the hallway. So, these lovely young activists were keeping my child from getting her education during school hours. Again, protests are a good thing but during school you are supposed to be in class. Protest on your own time. I'm guessing there wouldn't be these same 120 students protesting their for their teacher if it was 8am on a Saturday.

Rosemary McKillip from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 10:24 AM

What are the alleged acts of racism at OPRF and OP Middle Schools? To those with information, please educate the public with specific incidents, dates, and non- identifying description of persons involved. My kids were students at OPRF, I live in OP, and I am concerned about these issues but , as a lawyer, I need evidence. We cannot evaluate the merits of complaints and rebuttals if we are uninformed. Will we be provided with evidence-based explanations at the forum on March 7?. Thank you. Respectfully submitted, Rosemary M.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 9:17 AM

Saturday March 16 at the OP main Library a conference/workshop is scheduled titled "EDUCATE TO LIBERATE: YOUTH SOCIAL JUSTICE CONFERENCE" specifically designed for high-school and middle-school age students. I hope those who are so enthusiastically supporting our children skipping class are equally supportive of their participation in this event, dedicated to empowering them and helping them connect around social justice issues. Here's a link with more info: http://oppl.evanced.info/signup/EventDetails?EventId=42494&lib=0,1,2,7,1003&backTo=Week&startDate=2019/03/12

Dima Ali  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 8:56 AM

I support these students and I applaud their courage. Notice the lack of community support comparing to last year gun vilolence walk- out? White peopl of OP care only when their kids are effecte but hay, they have BLM yard signs and know a black family so it's all good. Check your bias and work on them, *progressive* people of Oak Park

Katina Smith  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 6:35 AM

Wow!!! The definition of "just" is not suspending a teacher for allowing students to fight against racism. "Just" would be to attend a school free of racist behavior. The school has some very big RACIAL problems and scapegoating a very good teacher of color like Mr. Clark is not the answer. The school ran away another great teacher of color Ms Stovall. Oak Park also ran away a wonderful principal of color Ms. Khan from Brooks. I see a pattern. Oak Park school district needs to get its act together and actually narrow racial the gaps in education received at its school district. Pretending the racial divide doesn't exist is not an action plan.

Nick Polido  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 5:09 AM

Thank you Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams. Mr Clark should have faced consequences for his last infraction by publicly posting the OPRF H.S. student in blackface on his social media account. I have since visited Mr. Clark's several social media accounts and his shared links . As recent as yesterday he's sharing incendiary posts on Nazis games and high school students chanting racist slurs (disgusting). Mr. Clark (Teacher/Activist/CommUNITY organizer Founder SUA Co-founder Illinois 4 All Former Candidate IL 7) seems to believe that rules don't apply to him as he promotes his celebrity status.

Christine Popowits from Oak Park  

Posted: March 5th, 2019 12:40 AM

Wow, I really disagree that there must be consequences to those who protest. Students have first amendment rights to protest peacefully. For the superintendent to forbid teachers from helping students is wrong. Just because she warned teachers, it doesn't give her moral grounds to punish free and lawful assembly of anyone. I've observed Mr Clark with students, at the march in the fall and I have read and watched his interviews. I am impressed with his quality of thought and action. Students are angry about inequitable treatment in the school and community. Emotions run high and need outlet. Those can be productive or unproductive. Mr Clark teaches the students productive forms of expression that are the right of all Americans. I applaud him for his willingness to make difficult decisions and stand by his principles.

Ken Hayes from Oak Park  

Posted: March 4th, 2019 8:25 PM

Protests without consequences are just an excuse to do whatever you want. The school superintendent and the principal made it very clear in an email before the protest that no teachers were to assist in the protest. If they did, the consequences are just. If you teach a civil justice class you can teach students how to protest. If not, teach what you are paid to teach.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad