Addressing mistakes, moving forward

Opinion: Columns

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Supt. Al Roberts and Board President Peter Barber

One View

The recent developments at Mann have presented the school and our district with lessons to learn and challenges to overcome. They highlight the importance of continuously reviewing our practices to ensure that we are not only following the high standards for education that have been established by the state, but also the ones we have prescribed to in Oak Park for more than 150 years. They underscore the need for us to never stop trying to meet and exceed the expectations we have set for ourselves and our students. In addition, they confirm that our ultimate success in these and all of our endeavors are largely dependent upon our ability to act with civility and compassion, to work collaboratively rather than in opposition of each other, and to learn from the past but focus on the future.

The staff members who are at the center of this issue clearly exercised poor judgment. However, we do not believe their actions were carried out with malice or with the intention of providing anyone with an unfair advantage on the test. They were an anomaly that does not represent the culture at Mann or diminish its reputation as an exemplary school with hard-working students, dedicated parents/guardians and an extraordinary staff.

It is a reputation that has been earned, like the school's myriad academic, artistic and community service accolades. It is a reputation that reflects Mann's strong commitment to education, which is highlighted by its impressive achievements in prestigious competitions such as the Odyssey of the Mind. It is a reputation that is strengthened by the efforts of the teachers and parent volunteers who created and implemented an innovative technology plan that will help our students succeed both in and out of the classroom. It is also a reputation that is symbolized by the school's generous contributions of time, energy and resources to improve the lives of people in our village and beyond, including the $4,000 the students raised through the Read to Feed program to help the impoverished communities served by Heifer International.

Although we are still awaiting the final ruling from the state regarding this matter, the time has come for us to move forward. We have already taken initial steps to enhance our existing staff training regarding the administration of the ISAT and begun the process of filling the vacancy created by Ms. Kumar's resignation.

While we cannot and will not excuse the mistakes that were made in this situation, we also cannot effectively correct them by finger-pointing and name-calling. Instead, we must continue to come together as a community to support one another in good times and bad, and use teachable moments such as this to build a better tomorrow for everyone involved.

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