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As a retired District 209 Board of Education member, I was asked recently if I foresaw trends or the prospect of current Proviso East reform/academic performance worsening. My answer was flat out ‘No.” A broadened reflection tempered my optimism and revealed to me that conditions could worsen if this public institution were to become stuck again.

There is no doubt that this was a former condition that produced a lionfs share of decline and chaos for the school system.

How do we prevent that? The simple answer is that you manage the change and you must confront public apathy, the fear factor, and indifference head on.

Who plans and who decides what, when and how much? A big component to the process is the degree of public engagement and creation of positive interaction. Problem-solving yields better solutions when it is generated by all stakeholders, the sum being greater than the whole. Engagement requires communication, listening, leadership, mentoring, patience, collaboration and hard work. Even skeptics realize the insanity of doing the same thing or doing nothing and hoping it will produce different results. If instructional quantity and quality are king in achieving scholastic proficiency, then indifference and fear are indeed king slayers.

What are your expectations regarding Proviso East High School and its capacity as one of our public high schools? What are your expectations of Forest Parkfs role at PTHS? What paths do we take in sustainable community development and quality K-12 public education?

Constructive things you can do are to call or meet Principal Tony Valente at Proviso East. He has publicly indicated an open-door policy in his office for Proviso Township parents, students, and community people. On the D209 side, learn about Dr. Nettie Collins-Hartfs strategy for ‘building bridges” in Proviso communities.

There is a lot at stake here. I frown on pure speculation, prejudgment, and doing nothing. The answer lies in public feedback, coupled with action by an engaged public.

Bob Cox
Planning Consultant, former D209 Board of Education member
Forest Park