It is clear that the conversation last week at the board table of the Proviso Township high schools was both difficult and robust. The topic was fully focused on education, specifically on how students from District 209 are chosen for admission into the Proviso Math and Science Academy (PMSA).
And how refreshing is it that a passionate debate among and between board members and administrators is solely about students, transparency and fairness. We are used to the previous incarnation of this board talking just about insider hiring, the unfairness of that state financial oversight panel, and which crony was getting a bite of the insurance premiums.
To get deep in the weeds about how admission criteria are set, how they change and who changes them from year to year and why, what tests are used to measure potential students and why the current test is a retread from past years, suggestions of grade inflation in the feeder districts, and the elusive role of a required student essay that one year is central to admission and the next is worth just 1 percent in a student’s potential admission, well, these are substantive and complex issues.
These are maters that go to the heart of the tensions and challenges this educationally struggling district has long faced. The current dissection of the admission process goes straight to all the legitimate worries that Forest Park-based PMSA has been either (or both) a non-transparent fix from the start or a perpetually chaotic start-up reflecting the chaotic thinking processes of a school district where education has been an afterthought.
We liked hearing the tough questions from board members. But we also appreciated the game responses from Principal Bessie Karvelas and Supt. Nettie Collins-Hart as they explained the challenges they face and the reasoning behind what seem like odd choices, including using an old standardized test rather than the current test administered by the state.
Karvelas is the eighth principal in this school’s decade of existence. Entering her third year, she looks like a person who inherited chaos and is trying to set it right. We look for the board and the administration to forge an alliance to get this fixed and to make the process transparent to families who are betting their child’s future on this admission process.
The board has raised the alarm, surfaced the genuine concerns. Let them work with administrators to make this right.
German and proud of it
On Saturday, Halloween even, Forest Park will celebrate its proud German heritage as the Harlem Manner und Damenchor marks its 125th anniversary with a concert. This group is one of the final cohesive vestiges of this village’s German roots.
As we report today, the Harlem Mannerchor is a lively group with great stories to tell of their members’ lives and loves, connections and history. So this is no stuck in time organization. It is a vital group that has survived and thrived for 125 years.
Head out to Buffalo Grove this Saturday to connect with a Forest Park heritage worth celebrating.