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School rhetoric lacks substance

As we all know, our superintendent of schools, Dr. Louis Cavallo, has proposed a restructuring of our entire school district. The program he wants to implement is largely experimental and there is little more than anecdotal evidence to support its success in other communities.

Dr. Cavallo talks about this being done in Westchester, but admits that the program is too new to be supported by test scores.

One of the primary goals in this restructuring plan is to address the issues of declining enrollment. However, according to an online survey, over 40 percent of the respondents said that they definitely or most probably would leave the district. This would seem to exacerbate the problem of enrollment.

Another issue that has been discussed is the disparity of test scores between schools and the fact that we have not updated our curriculum in years. What is not so readily discussed is the fact that the curriculum has not been the same in all four schools. The plans are already in motion (and I believe, budgeted for) to have one common, updated curriculum. This unified curriculum may balance test scores in and of itself. These facts should be a concern to all of us, whether we have children in the district or not.

As homeowners, taxpayers and parents we should be allowed to have a say in what happens within our community. There have been public forums, but our right to speak has been limited. We have been able to present questions in writing, Dr. Cavallo gives his rebuttal and we move on to the next question without any discussion as to the merit of his answers.

By Dr. Cavallo’s own admission, our school district is financially secure. Forest Parkers have always been very supportive of our schools and have passed nearly every school referendum. Maybe we do need to think long term about declining enrollment and a possible restructuring. But is this a decision that needs to be made in 90 days without community support? We have asked for concrete evidence as to whether financially, educationally, or socially this restructuring will meet the needs of our community. We get a lot of rhetoric but no clear facts or figures. This very important decision needs to be put off until all the facts and safety concerns are addressed and we can clearly see the pros and cons of this proposal.

Much has been made of the fact that it is the “Garfield parents” who are most opposed to this proposal. Garfield has an African-American majority. Race is not the issue, the safety and well being of our children is.

Until we have some better answers to these questions we ask our school board to refrain from voting on this proposal. Please call or e-mail the board of education at 366-5700 or forestparkschools.org.

Lisa Haeger
Forest Park

Satire hurts students

We are members of the senior class of PMSA writing in regards to the recent comic by Evan O’Brien published in the Forest Park Review depicting the students in District 209. Our initial reaction was that it was a mildly amusing illustration. However, as with most political cartoons, there is a deeper meaning. Not only does this comic increase the existing tension within our district, it also creates a false image of students from the three schools that make up the Proviso school district. This encourages a negative reaction from the other schools from the success that PMSA has enjoyed. Since this school opened, our school has been at times denigrated for taking resources away from the district. The comic encourages hostility and animosity from Proviso East and West towards PMSA.

The Forest Park Review holds a responsibility in our community to encourage academic effort. This comic contradicts this obligation to the community in many ways. By using a stereotypical nerd to represent PMSA students, it is sending a negative message that academic achievement is uncool; in fact, it should be praised. The students flanking the PMSA student are depicted as unengaged and/or hostile, which is not a trait anyone wants attributed to them. There are many good students at East, West, and PMSA. We know, they are our friends and neighbors.

Anna Carrera, Sundae Nelson, Rebekah Rogado, Jannely Aguirre, Christian Herrera, Guadalupe Garci, Nusra Ismail, Alisa Atwater, Jamie Galante, Kiara Thomas, Valen Sparks, Brittany Powell, Jade Williams, Michelle Dubose
Proviso Math and Science Academy

Finally, I get it

I am in my mid-60s, and I have to admit that I have never been a very “good citizen” in our community nor in our country. I say that because I have always been laid-back, non-participatory and skeptical. I have never believed in politics, nor government, nor in the possibility that someone could actually lead us in our common interest.

Lately I have begun to see that, if this skepticism or apathy is the only “gift of my generation,” well it’s no longer needed. It is time to pass the reins to someone with another insight. This echo was particularly strong when I listened to most of John McCain’s campaign speeches, where he repeatedly promised to fight government greed and veto all pork and earmarks. Basically he was confirming that our form of government can never work, and that the people in Washington are not worthy to lead us. Nothing left to do when this is a party credo, and it had been my credo for so many years. This is a credo of someone focused only on the separate individual.

But we are not only our separate selves, and just maybe our togetherness is way more basic than our differences. The good part is that we don’t have to believe that, to be open to try it.

A great clarity came to me about this fundamental choice, when last Tuesday night Barack Obama kept repeating the words, “Yes we can.” I had mistakenly thought that it was yes we can win the election. True, the past has always been “Yes we can,” but only if “You go first.” That has never worked.

“Yes we can” are my words only if I choose to be a leader, and no matter what our politics, perhaps they are the only words that can make life worth living in this challenging century. “Yes we can” will be birthed only in my heart, and can only begin with my neighbors and in my Forest Park. I sincerely hope that every community will pick up this new way of looking at our nation. And I would ask our Mayor Anthony Calderone answer every government phone call with the reminder, “Yes we can, Welcome to Forest Park.”

Richard Miller
Forest Park