Web Extra! See a graph of test scores from 2001

By every measure, the education system in Proviso’s District 209 high schools is a complete and abject failure. The schools are broke, the climate is rotten with politics and students are graduating as woefully unprepared young adults.

Since 2001, Emmanuel “Chris” Welch has been a member of the school board. He has been president since 2003. Keep those dates in mind while you’re considering the test scores available with this editorial on our Web site.

Welch is running for re-election to this board and on April 7 wants you to install him for another four years. Running with him are three other incumbents, Reatha “Sue” Henry, Dan Adams and Brian Cross. Oddly, their campaign slogan is “restoring hope in our children’s future.” Perhaps they, too, recognize what a miserable mess they’ve made of our schools.

None of the incumbents in this race agreed to meet with the Review as our editorial board conducted interviews in preparation of making endorsements. Two challengers, Maria DeSena and Carlos Anderson, also chose not to sit with us.

For the newcomers, this guaranteed they would not win our endorsement, as it is the Review’s policy not to endorse those we aren’t able to meet with. For the incumbents, interviews would have made no difference. We’ve seen plenty of this crew.

Voters should be pleased to hear though, that there are three viable candidates running for the Proviso school board in Kevin McDermott, Della Patterson and Rebecca Smith. Each of these three has our endorsement.

McDermott is our favorite in this race and narrowly missed winning a seat in 2007. Professionally, he has decades of experience in accounting and finance, and expressed little patience for the silence taxpayers hear when asking for details on the no-bid contracts, the bloated insurance deals and the exorbitant attorney’s fees that are the norm for this district. Beyond the numbers, McDermott seems to have a sincere interest in helping qualified educators reach the students in their classes. He also understands that parents and community leaders need to be brought to the table in much larger numbers.

Patterson worked with Proviso’s pregnant students for almost 20 years and has been an outspoken critic of business as usual. She’s not intimidated by Welch and his hardball tactics. When an ally of Welch’s attempted to have Patterson removed from the ballot, she hired attorney Burt Odelson to protect her rights and send Welch a message. Odelson and Welch have been engaged in a nasty lawsuit since 2007. Both in the trenches and as a taxpayer, Patterson is intimately familiar with what needs to be fixed.

Smith is a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher and has 35 years of classroom experience to her credit. What Smith understands best is that politics must be removed from the schools.