Where are the women running for elected office? Recognizing women in public leadership positions is a fine way to start in answering part of that question. Why aren’t Nettie Collins-Hart, Cynthia Pruitt, Nikita Johnson, Brenda Horton, Clotilde Frankiewicz, Alexis Wallace or Marianne Fidishin household names in Forest Park? This group of women includes the Proviso High School Superintendent, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum Asst. Superintendent of Finance, Director of Human Resources, Principal of Proviso Math and Science Academy, Principal of Proviso West, and the Director of Special Programs. Four have PhDs and five of the seven women are African-American. These professional women constitute top leadership positions in Proviso Township public education administration and are regionally accountable in management of an educational system of more than 5,000 students from 10 communities, including Forest Park, with an annual budget of almost seventy million dollars.

A better question to be asked would be, how can any Forest Park elected official (male or female) interface and partner with Proviso Township High Schools as our public high school provider? Any Forest Park candidate running solely on a gender or feminist platform will not likely affect the double standards that permeate society. The voices of single parent households, all minority participants in business opportunities, family values, family care and health, the issue conversations that include: jobs, community development and planning, domestic work, affordable housing, public health, governance, domestic and teen violence and public educational services will not be heard until you can include and bring as many groups as possible, including women, to the table. We are all stakeholders. The FPR reporting and editorial stances on Proviso Township High Schools, including the 2011 election process, are by default, also invisible. If inclusion to public participation is the goal, then last week’s editorial regarding “where are the women running for office?” comes off a bit superficial, provincial and one dimensional. The discussion of societal disparities deserves in depth reporting to offset invisibility and foster high visibility. Consider it a journalistic responsibility. Asking any of the six women mentioned is another fine way to answer another part of the posed question. The worst thing they might say is, “I am busy.”

Bob Cox