Today I write in response to the piece re: Images, Inc. But before I do that I’d like to refer to the last letter I wrote to the editor regarding a misguided theory on how to solve our High School “problem” in this town.

I sincerely apologize to those offended by my referring to Proviso East as a “juvenile prison.” I continue to stand by that assessment, I have good reason to, but I mostly spoke that way to wake parents up to the fact that Proviso East is not a viable option for any of us.

To be fair I have known very good families who have sent their children to Proviso East. One family in particular I know well and they have been successful and content with the outcome. When I spoke to them in the past I believe they said, yes, their kids were going there, no, they didn’t like it really but they had no choice. As we know there is no romance without finance. They managed. Important to note these kids were of mixed ethnicity with brown skin. Currently, and in the past, Proviso East has been primarily attended by people of color. Secondly, I brought up District 209 in tandem with D91 because they dovetail into the same problem. Let me once again call it what it is, white flight. Before my kids, who are predominantly of Caucasian decent, had graduated from FPMS they were in classrooms 90 percent African American and Hispanic. While they were at the grammar school level the classes were well mixed but as the children aged the white kids left. Where did they go? I phrase this as a hypothetical but is it really? We all know where they went. They left town, or went to a private school. Again. Period. No exceptions.

Now this week I’m reading about the meeting held by Images, Inc. and the first and last thing to come up is schools. How ironic. Do the schools and their productivity change the housing dynamic? Hummmm. YES! The sooner we get this the better.

Real leadership would approach the problem head-on, not ask stupid questions. Stop saying we can’t do anything about it and move heaven and earth to help our town prosper and set a new standard.

I’ve read about Harlem, in New York City where an industrious and phenomenal public servant turned the schools around to be the breeding ground of some of the best African American attended schools in the country. We, in Cook County have an outstanding record to refer to when we read about Providence St. Mel’s on the south side, and I’m sure there are others. That’s all well and good! We now need to believe in something new, something inclusive and forward and outwardly progressive. Let’s get a hold on a cutting edge education for all of our kids, slice across ethnic lines and render those lines archaic and obsolete.

Fix it. Fix Proviso East. It is broken.

That means for all of us in D209. Get Broadview, Forest Park and Melrose Park to bring the best of themselves to the table. We need to break the hold of inefficiency and complacency on the school board and in the administration and the villages themselves. We need bold leaders and highly competent dedicated individuals who are NOT driven by greed and power but by the needs of the people and their children and the need for a healthy well represented citizenry. Am I a pie- in- the- sky optimist? I’m betting that most would say “Yes! Cuz what you’re talking about just ain’t gonna happen!” Damn, that’s what I was afraid of!

Connie Custardo

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