On Jan. 9, Forest Park residents should take note of an unusual event in their community and poke their head in on an informal meeting with the Proviso Township High School District 209 superintendent.

We realize that exchanging pleasantries with a stuffed suit isn’t everybody’s ideal way to spend an hour. Fortunately, the new head administrator at District 209 has no interest in attending a meeting of that sort either. In the few months since Stan Fields has taken the reigns of this corrupt and wasteful school system, he has pulled no punches and minced no words. Clearly it will take years for the district to turn a corner and begin offering its students a meaningful education. Thus far, however, Fields appears to be on the right path.

His demands for accountability have jerked board members back to Earth, he’s allowing principals to get out from under the thumbs of incompetent administrators, and he’s avoided smarmy speeches about the future of the district.

But all of these qualities are irrelevant unless the district can help students succeed. In large part, Forest Park gave up on Proviso’s high schools a long time ago, and did so with good reason. Academically, Dist. 209 students have proven themselves to be among the least successful in Cook County.

Though taxpayers have little choice on where they send their money, parents in Forest Park have made a tradition of pulling their children out of the public school system here when it comes time for the ninth grade. To begin a new tradition of successful Forest Park students in Proviso Township high schools, parents will need to begin taking an interest. Next week’s meeting with the superintendent represents a small step down a very long road. We hope parents and a new administration can take those strides together.

Political implications

The start of Lt. Steve Johnsen’s termination hearing before the Fire and Police Commission couldn’t have come at a worse time, it seems, for Commissioner Patrick Doolin.

Doolin is making a run for the mayor’s office against two formidable candidates and his name will undoubtedly be spoken dozens of times in the context of an allegedly bogus police investigation. Johnsen stands to lose his job over allegations that boil down to carrying out a political “hit” on Doolin’s behalf.

Regardless of how the hearings turn out for Johnsen, voters may be interested in following this subplot in the weeks ahead before they narrow the election field to two candidates on Feb. 27.

Perhaps there is such a thing as bad publicity.


A photo on page 19 of the Dec. 27 Review was incorrectly identified. The holiday decorations in the picture were located at 7502 Harrison St. The Forest Park Review regrets the error.