It has been a long while since we offered an endorsement with more enthusiasm than our support today for the Proviso Together slate of candidates.
Ned Wagner, Theresa Kelly and Claudia Medina find themselves at the forefront of a movement that says the public high schools in Proviso Township are not just salvageable but redeemable, that the fight of the last 40 years should not have been rightly frustrated Forest Parkers against the entire township, but Forest Parkers and rightly upset parents and taxpayers from the 10 towns of Proviso against the self-interest, incompetence, political shenanigans, finger-pointing, hand-wringing ways of this district’s elected and professional leadership.
Here is a single fact that makes clear the essential need for a coalition of Proviso parents to take back our schools: It is not just Forest Park parents who face the impossible choices of where to send their precious children for high school. A full 50 percent of parents across this massive township choose any other school than a Proviso public high school for their children’s education. That is a damning fact.
And it is a damning fact that must lead to the repudiation of the entire slate of candidates put forward by state Rep. Chris Welch, the long-time board president at District 209. Included on that slate is Shawnte Raines-Welch, the spouse of the state rep. This is the ultimate form of nepotism.
It is so far past time to turn these schools in a fresh direction and happily voters have the opportunity to elect the Proviso Together slate and in that vote put in a place a new board majority. Wagner, Kelly and Medina will form that working majority with Kevin McDermott, a sitting school board member from Westchester.
This slate — Medina and Wagner are Forest Parkers, by the way — brings both passion and pragmatism to their effort. This trio believes in public education, sees potential to form a new base of support for the schools across the district with both parents and the elementary schools that feed into Proviso and has specific plans to focus on curriculum, safety, technology, finance and communication. And they are realistic that this is a multi-year turnaround project.
But it has to start now. And for Forest Park it must start with voting for each of the three members of this slate.