For well over a decade now, the Forest Park Review has been reporting on the political malfeasance that has translated into the educational abyss that came to characterize our Proviso public high schools. The taxes aren’t cheap. The education, by any measure, has been a disgrace. And the broad discouragement that permeates the civic lives of these Proviso towns and villages has been a scourge too long tolerated.
So no one will be the least surprised that the politicized incumbents of the Proviso First party get our scorn and not a moment’s consideration of support. Dan Adams, Brian Cross and Teresa McKelvy, the incumbents, and Jacqueline Walton, the newbie rounding out this slate, must be soundly defeated and the last vestiges of State Rep. Chris Welch’s hold on this district must be exorcised.
All that said, we could not be more excited about the coming election. The Review is not simply issuing a screed against the remaining incumbents holding onto office for dear life. We are making our most enthusiastic endorsement for the four fresh faces who make up the absolutely terrific Proviso Together slate: Rodney Alexander, Amanda Grant, Della Patterson and Samuel Valtierrez.
This is the second wave of the trio of grassroots parent reformers — Theresa Kelly, Claudia Medina, Ned Wagner — who won election to this board two years ago. Now these four individuals are ready to join in taking the three Proviso high schools back from the politicians.
This slate brings wide geographic representation to the board, with home addresses in Melrose Park, Westchester, Maywood and Bellwood. It also represents the breadth of the racial and ethnic diversity of this remarkable district.
When we consider the headway that a team of three school board members has made in just two years, we are enthused about the power of a clear board majority to consolidate the positive change underway.
Dr. Jesse Rodriguez, is the strong new superintendent. The Proviso East principal, Dr. Patrick Hardy, is exceptional. The district is newly aware of serving the needs of the growing Hispanic enrollment. The disheartened faculty is being listened to and gradually held to account. Investments in new text books and technology are underway.
There is so much more to accomplish and, finally, the determination and energy to take it on.
As we have met these candidates, we have been impressed by their shared focus on key issues. Even more, though, we are excited by the depth of the community experience each of these four bring. These are people deeply engaged in their home communities, with ties to the elementary schools that feed into Proviso and with children who either are heading to Proviso high schools, are currently enrolled, or have graduated.
For Forest Park, which has spent 45 years in an antagonistic relationship with its public high school, there is no more important election, there is not a greater opportunity to make real change for our village and to forge powerful friendships and bonds with our Proviso neighbors.
This is one time when the old adage, “Get out the vote,” really means something. We can’t let this opportunity get away from us.