Proviso Township high schools are in the best position in several decades to begin turning this failed mess into a faint beacon of possibility in public high school education.
This is important. This moment is important.
A revitalized and less political school board was elected 16 months ago. A new superintendent has been hired and his early signals are that the old ways are dead, that community and students come first, that big ideas are welcome, that old-school politics have no place in public education.
And then there was the food fight. Not in a cafeteria at East, not among unruly kids lacking discipline. But between two warring school board members, after a school board meeting, over a box of chicken.
This is beyond pathetic.
There is history between board members Theresa Kelly, 73, and Kevin McDermott, 62. Sometimes over many years on the board they have been wary allies. Now, after McDermott’s recent success in yanking Kelly out of the board presidency mid-term, there is bitterness that bubbles over in public meetings.
Last week that frustration played out over McDermott’s proposal that all District 209 school board meetings be video recorded. It is a reasonable idea and depending on how those recordings are publicly shared, we’d call it a progressive step. But in public session Kelly turned that idea into a political fight over the coming election where McDermott’s wavering vote will be powerfully contested.
Meeting over, and three board members — Kelly, McDermott and Ned Wagner — went to a side room where a small spread of food had been laid out. That is where some sort of physical altercation took place between McDermott and Kelly. McDermott said Kelly attacked him as they each reached for the same box of food. Kelly said McDermott grabbed a box of chicken out of her hand and wrenched her shoulder. She was taken to a local ER where supporters say the shoulder was sprained.
Both have filed battery complaints with the Forest Park police. McDermott has now clammed up on the advice of his attorney.
As we said, pathetic.
If our children, if our communities are to look to those elected to begin the slow rebuild of this sad school system, then our elected officials are going to have do a damned sight better than this behavior.
Both personal and public apologies are in order. If these two were students at East, they’d be suspended for a week.
Grow up. Take your overly personal fights out of our sight and away from our public discourse. And don’t you dare screw up this moment of possibility.
A charter in Forest Park?
We believe in charter schools. We believe in them as an alternative and a spur to failed and dispirited public schools.
Last week in Forest Park a small, first discussion took place on the difficult and challenging possibility of bringing a charter to the village. A good discussion to have and we’re not going to prejudge the pros and cons.
We do, however, think that District 91 is a strong choice for families. We also recognize that there is a budding crisis of confidence in this village related to its public elementary schools. The district’s school board needs to grapple with this.