Thanks for highlighting the need for equity

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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I would like to thank ShaRhonda Knott Dawson for her recent columns citing issues of race and inequity in Oak Park [Back on the racism-monitor beat, Viewpoints, June 12]. I appreciate you raising your viewpoint and challenging the prevailing idea that Oak Park is a diverse, welcoming place for all, and even if that were the case, it would not be the same as creating a truly equitable community. Too many of our fellow Oak Parkers do not believe that we should be working toward equity — achieving equal outcomes across groups. 

If one believes, as I do, that human qualities are not passed out in different measures to different racial, ethnic, gender, or other groups, then it is natural to believe that an equal distribution of intelligence, persistence, and other qualities should lead to equal outcomes, not between all individuals, but between racial, ethnic, gender, and other groups. 

Since that is not the case, something is getting in the way, namely systems of oppression. Thank you again, Ms. Dawson, for continuing to call this out in Wednesday Journal.

Jim Schwartz

Oak Park

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Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 21st, 2019 8:14 AM

Mr. Schwartz. Thank you for your response. If the end goal is to have equal outcomes, then we must make the assumption as well that all students are different. When all students are different, in order to achieve the same results, then they each must be treated differently. In a public school system, that would be extremely expensive and cumbersome. So let's take a step back and ask why is it in the current "oppressive" education system in Oak Park do Asian and Indian kids excel, Latino kids fare well, but black kids do not? Instead a question of opportunity, I think we should ask if our school system is fair to all students. Most would agree if a system is fair and the individual doesn't succeed, the individual would then be primarily responsible for his/her outcome. I would argue that D200 and D97 are fair institutions and not oppressive as you believe. If these oppressive institutions are doing a disservice to black students, why isn't black leadership at OPRF correcting it? Wouldn't they be "woke" to see the rampant oppression of black children and intervene to rectify it? Are they not in charge of the day-to-day operations of OPRF? Why do they allow this "oppressive system" to continue? Who is holding their feet to the fire? Why is the burden placed on "the community" who is in no position of power to change anything at the schools?

Alice Caputo  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 4:45 PM

Nice try Ramona but you're not going to get a scientific answer as to causation of the outcomes as the writer has already made up his mind to the cause without any scientific proof. Connecting together a series or correlations doesn't prove causation nor aid in finding a solution.

Jim Schwartz  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 4:13 PM

Ms. Lopez, thanks for your comments. In regards to your first comment, I just wanted to reiterate that I do not think there should be equality in individual outcomes, but that there should be equality in outcomes between groups, since I believe that each group has equal qualities of intelligence, persistence, etc. (I also believe we should have a floor below which we don't allow people to drop in terms of income, education, and health care, but that is another conversation.) As far as your question about systems of oppression, there are numerous examples. Unequal outcomes in our schools between different racial groups is just one example, which is perpetuated by the unequal access that Black children have to educational opportunities based on the dramatically lower levels of wealth and income that Black parents have than white parents. We could probably have an extremely long discussion about the different views we have on these issues, but I'll just leave it there. Thanks!

Jim Schwartz  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 4:04 PM

Ms. Knott-Dawson -- you are so welcome!

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 8:45 AM

Mr. Scwartz, the good citizens of the Republic of Oak Park are champing at the bit to fight these "systems of oppression" you speak of. Please tell us where to focus our attention, so all of us can put at end to it. Speaking in general and vague terms doesn't do any of us who are willing to join you in your fight any good.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 20th, 2019 8:41 AM

Equal outcomes is an extremely problematic, orderly and communistic view of the world. Why would anyone desire equal outcomes? Personally, I want disparity. I want the kid who studied more for the ACT to get a better score. I want the kid who practiced their instrument after hours and on weekends at home to be the 1st chair. I want the entrepreneur who puts in 80 hours a week, does their due diligence and strategizes to be more successful than the one who doesn't. Without disparity then the Einsteins, Baldwins, Frida Kahlos and Picassos of the world will just be, well equal.

ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson  

Posted: June 19th, 2019 7:56 PM

Jim Schwartz, thanks so much for these kind words. They are much appreciated!!! <3

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