OPRF kids upset over teacher dismissals

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Students at Oak Park and River Forest High School are upset that some of their teachers will not be back in the next school year.

Several teachers were "dismissed" by the school board on March 22. OPRF, along with other school districts in the area and state, each spring routinely let's go of some part-time and non-tenured teachers as part of their class scheduling process for the following school year. Some teachers are often hired back even after receiving a "Reduction In Force" notice from the school.

Still, some OPRF students are protesting the dismissal and have set up a Facebook page and a website, "SAVE OPRF" in support of the teachers. More than 1,000 signatures have been gathered in an online petition against the dismissals.

"We're calling on the school board and the administration of OPRF to repeal the dismissals they voted upon and to support the educational well being of students by reexamining the budget and, if necessary, cutting from elsewhere," according to the website.

School officials, meanwhile, insist the dismissals were not budget related but part of the difficult process of planning next year's class schedule and faculty workforce.

Among the teachers to be let go is history teacher Daniel Greenstone, who recently wrote a fiction novel, A Theory of Great Men, which I just finished reading. Good book about a fictional high school teacher who doesn't subscribe to the Theory--basically that people shape events in their lives and the world. I don't normally read fiction but enjoyed the book greatly. Would make for good screenplay and film.

Save OPRF group

Website: SaveOPRF.org
Twitter: @SaveOPRF
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/381530861869419

Read Publisher Dan Haley's column this week on "OPRF and the RIF."

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Reader Comments

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PE Teacher residing in OP from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2012 8:37 PM

I'm a PE teacher and can speak to the reason why PE teachers make so much money in comparison to faculty in what you're calling "real subjects". To put it simply, teachers in any subject area get paid on years of experience and degrees earned. A majority of the PE teachers @ OPRF have been there a long time and have masters degrees. Also the majority of them coach several sports, which earns them extra stipends. Its a simple concept to understand.

PE Defense  

Posted: April 15th, 2012 5:37 PM

In defense for the PE teachers, at least 6 of the 15 PE teachers have been there longer than 10 years. I know that for a fact seeing that I was in high school when they were teachers there and that was 17 years ago. Majority of the academic teachers are all new. With all that being said, I still do not agree with what they are doing to any of the teachers. The board needs to cut into their million dollar surplus to keep all 24 teachers on staff.

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 4:45 PM

way that the high school shells resources towards it clearly diminishes from teaching subjects that actually mater. I cant ever recall being glad that I took PE because I needed to use a practical skill I learned it in later on in life. I do however wish I gained a better foundation in Calc and physics in high school.

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 14th, 2012 4:42 PM

They way that Oak Park pays there teachers reflects the educational values of the administration, which can answer the question regarding how the High School isnt doing so good academically. Why do the PE teachers make so much more money as opposed to actual teachers of real subjects? There are some PE teachers there now who make twice as much as both my parents combined when I attended OPRF back in the day. I know that its an Illinois state mandate that high schools must have PE, but the...

Upset Parent  

Posted: April 13th, 2012 1:05 PM

RECALL THE SCHOOL BOARD. Enough is enough! Let's start a recall campaign to remove the school board. Fire the school administrators.

ArtsParent from River Forest  

Posted: April 12th, 2012 11:33 AM

Also attended the session last night. Although we were very impressed by the sympathetic Board's endurance and the superintendent's explanation, it became very clear that the prestigious OPRF theatre program will be gutted by the RIF, while athletics dept. had no cutbacks. It's going to be unfortunate that all the talent being developed by the wonderful Bravo and CAST programs in Dist. 97 will have nowhere to go at OPRF.

CuriousDad from Oak Park  

Posted: April 12th, 2012 9:47 AM

It is understandable, and in a way reassuring, the loyalty and respect, those RIFed teacher generated in our students body. I know (now) the process and is nothing like people think. They are not getting rid of good teachers to save a buck. Is is simply balancing resources and needs. I am confident good teachers will be back, and new ones will be just as good. And hopefully they too will generate this passion when they get RIFed next year.They did it before.

Oak Park Voter from Oak Park  

Posted: April 12th, 2012 9:38 AM

Last night I attended the high school special board meeting and I'm dismayed at what I found out: Students are being crammed 30 to a class to justify the reduction in the number of teachers. Teachers with advanced degrees will not be considered to teach at OPRFHS. Teachers agreed to a multi-year pay freeze in their contract negotiations. Then the school board gave themselves a huge raise. Teachers not qualified to instruct the classes vacated by fired faculty will fill the positions. V


Posted: April 11th, 2012 8:49 PM

The first lesson from this that high school students should receive is that education in the US is becoming more and more of a business. Pushing out older, more experienced teachers who've had longer careers for younger teachers that can be paid less is something that's happening on a wide scale, in schools and universities. Educational institutions in the US are turning into corporations, and OPRF student need to know that, as hopefully some can bring change in the future.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: April 11th, 2012 6:50 PM

Parce nobis

Debbie from Oak Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2012 8:17 PM

I'm a teacher at a norht shore high school with a balanced budget, and teachers at our school get "RiFed" every year. It's really not a big deal as long as OPRF does what my school does, which is hire those teachers back when enrollment and next year's sections are all mapped out. But it is upsetting for staff and kids alike.

Dual Standard from Oak Park  

Posted: April 7th, 2012 11:50 AM

The problem isn't necessarily the RIF, it's when they RIF good teachers and keep bad ones.

OPRF Parent too  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 11:19 AM

I understand the students being upset. But we also want qualified teachers. We just can't put any teacher in a position. (No offense to anyone but you don't want a PE teacher in history or a history teacher in language, etc.). We also don't want people complaining about class sizes being too small (we have heard all the teacher bashing this last year or so). At this point, we will lose some good teachers. Happens all the time though. Hopefully most will be rehired.

Mom for many years  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 9:38 AM

The "top" says this is routine, but I always thought the high school did a good job of protecting good, young teachers. I've never seen anything like this over many years. Don't believe the spin! The kids know this is wrong, read their website.

OPRF Student from Oak Park  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:28 AM

It is ignorant to think that they plan to bring all these teachers back. We know better. And as much as Greenstone is a great teacher, most kids are upset about Silver more than any of the others.

RF Mom  

Posted: April 6th, 2012 8:18 AM

I'm upset, too, because one of my daughter's favorites is on the list. However, for those of you who don't know the story, I just heard a very complete run-down on this situation last night, from the "top," - RIFs are done by every school at this time of year. PT and non-tenured teachers know they're vulnerable to this. State law requires that teachers be given this kind of notice, as the board makes room for teachers coming back from leaves and sabbaticals. Routine, albeit painful.

student at oprf  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 10:46 PM

i am a freshman and i just want the same meaning of those things that are best that my older brother had 4 years ago in my place.

OPRF Alum  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 8:54 PM

This makes no sense seeing that the school has millions of dollars in surplus. Why get rid of the good teachers and bring in young, inexperienced ones that they can play less? I thought the high school motto was, "Those Things That Are Best." Clearly, they won't be if the good teachers are eliminated. We pay tons in taxes for that school and I think the students who attend should get the best education they can.

Oak Park Voter  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:29 PM

Sounds like a terrible way to treat teachers. May be the school administrators should go though the same process.

another teacher from Oak Park  

Posted: April 5th, 2012 4:06 PM

Dan Greenstone is great. My son has him after I moved him to his class. He's intellectual, progressive, rigorous and very student-centered. This is a big loss for our kids.

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