What do the Forest Park Review and Forest Park elementary school Superintendent Randolph Tinder agree about this week? That standardized testing is oversold, overanalyzed and can lead to overwrought reactions. That there is a purpose in comparing the results posted by black students in Forest Park with the results of black students across the state. And that in that comparison, African-American students in Forest Park compare favorably, in some testing areas, with the overall black student population of the state.
What don’t we agree about? That it is somehow improper or unfair to look straight up at comparisons of test results for Forest Park’s black and white students. That comparison yields a stark contrast between the results of black and white students. We believe that contrast must be looked at with eyes wide open, without apology or blame, but with a simple determination to address complex issues. We expressed concern last week in this space that the school administration and school board would somehow seek to paper this over. And at least week’s school board meeting, they did just that.
The superintendent, a man we admire and respect, also took a cheap shot at this paper, alleging our goal in reporting on the achievement gap was aimed at selling papers. Further, he said, “It is exponentially more difficult when our students and staff continually read in the local paper how bad they are and what a terrible school system we have.”
That is nonsense. Positive stories out of District 91 far outnumber critical articles in the Review. There are many good things in District 91. And then there is the achievement gap. We’re going to write about it. The school board ought to talk about it. The administration ought to be energized about battling it. The community ought to be supportive and demanding and involved in working toward a solution. We have a challenge ahead of us. Are we going to whine or are we going to work?
The Review is two weeks away from making its endorsements in the upcoming village commissioner race. But it is not too early to wholeheartedly endorse the cooperative tone of the many candidates who took part last week in a forum sponsored by Citizens United in Forest Park.
We agree with the comments of candidate Mike Curry who said, “The current village council, there’s a lot of talking, not much listening.” We know that with some sincere listening, the problems before this village council would not appear particularly divisive. The actual disagreements on policy are quite minor. It is the combustible personalities and pettiness which have made the past years so non-productive.
Which is why it is good to hear another candidate, Rory Hoskins, say, “There is no one on this panel I dislike.”
We are hopeful that after voters reconstitute the village council next month, the focus can return to public service and not focus on scoring points off fellow elected officials.
The next and only opportunity to see all the candidates will be on March 29 – the Chamber of Commerce/Main Street/Forest Park Review forum at the middle school.