To all voters, school board candidates and elected school board members:

I have been involved in Proviso Township District 209 Board of Education elections since 2000. For a number of reasons, political and election rhetoric predominantly capture the public’s eye. There are no shortcuts in understanding all the complex educational issues at hand. Here are three themes that seldom get addressed. They are critical to solving problems in our local K-12 systems, including Proviso Township feeder schools, District 91, and the three high school campuses that make up Proviso District 209.

1) What does it take to focus on delivering quality instructional time to all students in our classrooms?

2) The way we finance public education in Illinois (property taxes) is flawed and inequitable. How can we change it?

3) Is high-stakes testing the one-size-fits-all solution exhibited and popularized in local, state and national educational agendas really effective? Is “teaching to the test” a viable or equitable student-centered strategy linking progressive educational practices that lend to lifelong learning? 

 Candidate Corrissa Smith touches on this testing theme, according to a recent story. I have distributed a chapter regarding testing from Bob Herbert’s recent book Losing Our Way, to all D209 BOE members and most of the D209 candidates a month ago.

If I have lost you on themes 2 or 3, then please think about theme 1. If redemption of Proviso High Schools, including transparency and accountability, are to ever happen, quality instructional time and its bottom-up service, support, and delivery to students, teachers, and parents can no longer be ignored. In fact, it should be the ultimate goal. Nor should it be silenced or diverted by the exclusive dependence and control of manipulative politics. 

My advice to voters is that almost all campaign promises are never realized; being skeptical of superficial campaign rhetoric is good; getting the public to engage in conversation with the candidates to address some of my suggested themes is better. 

My advice to board members who are successfully elected is to dig in on these essential issues and be ready to produce quality board work both interdependently and collaboratively. Be a driving force for change because being innovative and producing learning centers in our classrooms is golden and in my humble opinion sorely in need.

 Bob Cox

District 209 BOE member 2007-2011; Recipient Master Board credits IASB Professional Development Program 2007-2011; Illinois Licensed Substitute Teacher, Proviso East and PMSA 2013-2014; Chicago Archdiocese qualified Substitute Teacher Fenwick High School; lifelong Forest Park resident, Proviso East Class of 1972

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