D91's positive story

Opinion: Columns

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It is a perpetual split in every town. There are the residents with kids in the public schools. And there are residents without kids, with kids in private schools, with kids who graduated years back, you know, way back when everything including the schools "was better."

In most towns, most of the time, the divide isn't significant. Parents with kids in public school are usually reasonably pleased. And the non-parents are either indifferent or actually grasp the vital role that good schools play in building their property values and the reputation of the community.

However, when it comes to its public schools, Forest Park is different. And this time different is not good.  The village has long had – and we're talking nearly 50 years – a strangled relationship with its public high schools in Proviso Township. All sides of this sorry tale have truth. Forest Park abandoned Proviso East due to racial fears. Proviso East spiraled into an utterly failed school as the social ills of other communities festered, instability took hold of educational leadership and politics entered governance.

The impact of not having a viable public high school system has undermined Forest Park as residents moved out as their kids grew up or double taxed themselves to pay private high school tuition.

As grim as the high school situation has become, Forest Park has always and rightfully taken pride in its elementary and middle schools. Until recently. There were, a half decade back, rightful concerns about behavior issues at the middle school. Those have been directly addressed with measurable success. The district had some financial stress that was relieved by generous taxpayers. 

Today the D91 schools move sharply forward under able school board leadership and a progressive administration. But you might not know that if you were simply listening to the chatter. There is negativity in the air and the school board has heard it. Last week after a long discussion and some disagreement with its superintendent on next steps, the board agreed that it needs to proactively celebrate its successes and tell that story to all Forest Park residents, particularly those without kids in the schools. 

We agree with this positive choice. There are many positive stories to tell and it is better to be pro-active in making news than reactive in responding to rumors, doubts and active smears. 

We'll close with the active smears. Two elected Forest Park village commissioners – Mark Hosty and Tom Mannix -- have actively and determinedly smeared our public schools. Outside of possible political gain in gaining a foothold on the school board, an attempt that failed miserably, we cannot figure the upside to village officials undermining local schools. But both Mannix and Hosty have done it repeatedly. And for that they should both be turned out of office next spring when village elections come round.   

It is time for Forest Park to pull together and move forward. 

Reader Comments

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not shocked  

Posted: July 13th, 2014 12:47 AM

I don't have special knowledge of the workings of the paper. It's pretty much all spelled out in the comment policy under the link below the "Add Your Comment" link. I've seen comments that seemed in conflict with the policy later disappear. When this happens I've seen comments which were commenting on the deleted comment remain. The original commenter might write an acceptable modified comment and post again . That is what I think happened here. I agree the timestamps looked odd.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 6:19 PM

@not shocked: You seem to know a lot about the inner workings at the paper, so I'll take your word for it. No, actually, I wasn't considering the scenario that they are manipulating the comment section at will. I was thinking people owned their own voices. But now that you mention it it's a good chance to remember that it's private enterprise and they can do whatever they want (or their readers demands) in the way of making news, publishing opinions or allowing comments. I'm naive, for sure:(

not shocked  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 2:10 PM

comments can be flagged by readers and deleted by the editor and then maybe reposted with revisions. Given this I'm sure you can imagine scenarios that end up with odd timestamps. This seems more likely than someone hacking the comments.


Posted: July 12th, 2014 1:16 PM

@Nothing Baffling: How the heck did you HACK THE COMMENTS section like this??? You wrote a response to a comment made on the morning of the 11th sometime after 7pm on the 11th but had it dated the 10th and inserted below rather than above the comment you were responding to!?! How do you have access to do this? (And, whoops, I think you meant to date it the 11th and place it right on top, not below, the other comment.) Either you need to explain yourself or the paper needs to do some explaining.

No Kids from Forest Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 11:18 AM

@Gina: Deal! Full disclosure: I've never seen that movie. HaHa. Funny how some things just become part of the vernacular! See you around the board!

Gina Thomas from FP  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 8:03 AM

@no kids - agreed it's getting super weird! ha. I apologize. Let's be friends. Seriously. I'm also going to go watch Mean Girls again because that is constantly being referenced by my coworkers and it's been so long since I've seen it. "You can't just ask someone why they're white!" I hear this at least once a week at work.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 5:29 AM

How utterly idiotic- people critical of an elected board reaching out to the taxpayers who fund it. Proof that people can criticize anything.

Heather Cianciolo from Forest Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2014 12:10 AM

@no kids, no kids either, People Without Postcards, and self-identified "old geezers" -- how do we reach you? Good question! This is where the communication comes in. Please send us your ideas! Rafael Rosa and I are the Board's Community Engagement Committee, and you can reach either of us via the D91 webpage: http://www.forestparkschools.org/board-education We'd love to hear from you, and we will do our very best to not be insipid.

No Kids from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 8:27 PM

@Gina :Okay this is getting very weird. Are you aware that your posts are still sitting right here? Call it "simply" or call it "harry". It is what it is. Glad you are not fainting now but the bad take-off of "Mean Girls" is also weird. You're being too personal and coming on way too strong to a total stranger!! I simply asked a simple question. Which as it turns out was ably answered by the board in an article. I told Heather I appreciate her work and the boards, and thanked them. The End.

No kids from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 7:29 PM

Heather! Somehow I missed the original article about this in the paper. Good article. Very well articulated by you and other board members. I hope you didn't think I was against this concept; I just wanted more information and seeing the emphasis on young people without children or without children in school, that makes perfect sense. Hopefully the old geezers who know-it-all from the good old days will also take note and respect the future and those who will create it--the young. Best of luck!

no kids either  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 6:33 PM

@ no kids: I'm fine with being asked for feedback. It's not like I'm on the PTO mailing list, or get notes sent home with my kid's homework. So how are they supposed to get input from taxpayers, thus stakeholders, who aren't otherwise in their rolodex? One request to D91: please, just don't send me insipid, poorly written glossy mailers like Proviso Rising. Sounds like they're following established statewide governing principles as HC cited. Don't see what the fuss is about.

Gina Thomas from FP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 5:59 PM

@No - I didn't say how dare you I simply said I'm shocked, which I am. As for the rest of your post to me I don't really understand it and don't feel it'll be very rewarding to go back and forth with you. You could just ignore it all rather than get all flamed because they're trying to do a good thing, here.

No kids from Forest Park from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 5:14 PM

@Gina: How dare I "call into question" the authority of the authorities? Wow, that sounds a little . . .authoritarian? I'm sure the board has a better response to a reasonable question than "How dare you ask!". It's a very out of the box decision for a school board to PARTICULARLY target non parents in a PR blitz.Obviously you personally welcome the extra attention. Elsewhere I saw someone without kids complaining they didn't get their postcard. Who knows, maybe this is the new "Guard-Gate"?

Heather Cianciolo from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 1:17 PM

@Gina - It's a fair and good question, because most people (at one point, myself included) assume that the School Board serves only students and staff. Anyone who wants to learn more about the governing principles of Illinois public school boards can go to http://www.iasb.com/principles.cfm You can also attend the Board self-evaluation meeting next Saturday, 7/19, at 1pm at the D91 office where we'll strategize ways to improve our effectiveness as a School Board. More exciting than it sounds!

Gina Thomas from FP  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 12:49 PM

I'm shocked that people would call into question D91 wanting to communicate better with people in the community that do not have kids. My husband and I do not have children and I still care very much about good schools. We may not be as involved in the day to day operations of the schools but we support them. They are our futures, too. We care about this!

Heather Cianciolo from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 12:32 PM

"As the corporate entity charged by law with governing a school district, each School Board sits in trust for its entire community." (IL School Board website.) We *are* trying to reach the childless, because the Board represents them too, along with all other Forest Park taxpayers. And effective communication helps the School Board govern effectively, toward the ultimate goal of academic excellence for all students. Even those without kids benefit from a community with good public schools.

No kids from Forest Park  

Posted: July 11th, 2014 10:45 AM

Who is the "We"? Is that the royal "we", a couple, a group?When you call yourself "we" in an opinion piece it's usual to identify the organization by name. Anyway,. Why is the school board targeting people #without# children? Rallying spirit within groups -- say within the student body and their families -is crucial. They are the best advertisement for the schools.And I say find out how all the charter schools are promoting themselves and follow that model. Why the focus on childless folks?

Nothing baffling here from Forest Park  

Posted: July 10th, 2014 10:25 PM

Twain: "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we.'" D91 is trying to reach people without kids in schools, not the childless.

recent history  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 6:45 PM

Here is a google shortened link at the village website to video of Village Board discussion in which Mannix and Hosty, ignoring the data RedSpeed themselves provided that their school bus stop sign cameras did not increase safety, rant that the D91 school board doesn't care about our childrens safety. Click on unfinished business item 4. or forward to the 43:12 mark: goo.gl/kFS74V

Gina Thomas from FP  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 6:24 PM

Institutional memory is so overrated! That we need to "fix" the problem of some village counsel members gunning for D91 does not require a history lesson. I remain tired of these old relics of history and still feel they stand in the way of progress. I'm proud of the job D91 is doing and will continue to support them and oppose those looking to tear them down.

Concerned . . . from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 3:14 PM

PS to Brian -- Whatever racial slurs/comments were posted by the other article seem to have been removed, possibly due to your pointing them out (?). This is a good thing.

FoPa Watcher  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 3:04 PM

Dear Concerned, You'd prefer your racists closeted? I acknowledge they live among us, but they are NOT what makes this village. I encourage you to fact-check what I wrote about building the middle school, Community Ed and the vocal opponents of the referendum. Community Ed worked hard to counter the perceptions and built a buy-in coalition. It continued to function after the vote but was unable to sustain its own mission. Over time, it narrowed its function; sponsored the health fair and inter-generational breakfast, but abandoned trying to keep the community working together. The village, park, library and schools went their own ways. Civic organizations withered through attrition and apathy. and we are here.

Concerned Citizen from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 3:02 PM

Brian, I appreciate your comment defending FoPa. At a casual read, not a close read, what you are saying makes sense. However I would posit that the racial comments about how we saved ourselves from being overrun by brown skin were not even germane to the point "Let's all work together."Or to the column itself which is about Hosty. That makes them suggestive, intended or not. That said I appreciate your comment to me as well as your positive comment about the schools - thoughtful & considered.

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 12:41 PM

I want to echo the last line of this editorial--"It is time for Forest Park to pull together and move forward". Let's keep in mind who in this town is truly trying to divide us. Let's all try to be good neighbors, working for the common good.

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 11:35 AM

Concerned Resident--Yes, a lot of white people in town could use some racial sensitivity training---for evidence, see some of the irrelevant comments made on the threads about the mayor's guard rail. But Watcher was not stating his own opinion with that phrase, he was reporting on a perceived sentiment in town, a sentiment which ultimately did not win out. Please read more carefully, and lets not get distracted from the actual topic.

Concerned Resident from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 11:18 AM

Who makes a racist comment like "DOOMED to white flight and *INVASION* . . ." ???? Because, what, white people are so fantastic? Whew, thank heaven's we saved ourselves from brown-skinned people taking over. Now if we could only get them out of the rental units, too. . .right, FoPa? I guess "FoPa" is a play on *faux pas* which is the perfect moniker for you. Get thee to a class on racial sensitivity, whitey.

Brian Kuhr from Forest Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 9:12 AM

My son got a great education in Forest Park schools and experienced no problems. Moreover, our school board is the one honest and competent governing body we have around here. They are good neighbors, working for the common good. If you want to see what a school board looks like when politicians get a hold of it, look at D209. I agree strongly that local politicians who undermine our schools for their own political gain need to go.

FoPa Watcher  

Posted: July 9th, 2014 7:32 AM

We've been here before. With Art Jones as school supt. When the Middle School concept was put forward and the taxpayers were asked to fund building a new Middle School their answer was NO! Sentiments ran high that Forest Park was doomed to follow the white flight, invasion/succession pattern taking place in Proviso Twp. Supt. Jones worked to create the Community Education Council; bringing the village, parks, schools and civic organizations together to work collaboratively. Together they worked to dispel the rumor mill and restore people's faith in their village's future. Working together the middle school referendum was passed and residents enjoyed the benefits of united, open and collaborative government. Real community pride was restored. The Community Education Council continued on, but over time Art Jones moved on, old habits returned, complacency and the rumor mill went unchallenged. We seem to lack the institutional memory needed to avoid past mistakes?

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