Always it is the right and the necessary responsibility of parents to choose the right school for their children. There are few choices so critical as a parent. Parents know their kids best, know best what size school will work, what services will be essential to success, what extracurriculars will connect their kids.
And so we honor and respect the decision by now former District 91 school board member John Tricoci, announced last week, that he and his family will leave Forest Park to pursue the right educational setting for their kids as they move toward junior high and high school. The family is heading west to far suburban Montgomery, out past Aurora.
The Tricoci family is not the first and will not be the last Forest Park family to decamp in the face of the dismal prospect of sending children off into the Proviso Township High School system. It is a failed system with failed leadership and any prospects for a turnaround are long term at best.
However, it is notable when a person with roots so deep in town and with so public a role makes this choice. Tricoci’s family has been living in and helping to run Forest Park for 100 years. His dad, John Tricoci, Sr. served on the elementary school board for more than 20 years. He was elected to the school board in his own right just two years back. He is a cousin of Mayor Anthony Calderone.
For an elementary school board member to choose an alternative to the local public high school is not unusual in Forest Park. It is depressing but realistic when you see people devoted enough to public education that they’ve run for the school board then choose a private Catholic school for high school. But two current members of the District 91 board have daughters who attend or have attended Trinity High School in River Forest. Two other District 91 board members have children attending Proviso Math and Science Academy, the select admission option within the township school system.
But for many people living and loving Forest Park, though, a private high school is not the answer. Tuition payments will drain any money saved for college. Special educational needs are not typically well served in a private school. Not everyone is eager to send a child to a religiously aligned school. And not every student qualifies for admission to PMSA, either.
That leaves Proviso East. And that brings a discouraging number of families, and now the Tricoci’s, to the painful choice to abandon their home town.
This is a moment for Forest Park to fight for Proviso high schools, to toss out the politicians running the place in their self-interest, to stabilize the administration, to demand more. That may not work for the Tricocis with kids just two years away from entering high school but it is still the right fight to have.