We’ll admit it. At times we have bought into, and spread, a stereotype that public school teachers can be highly risk averse. That’s frustrated us as the need for our public schools, especially our high schools, to adapt to massive change amid near total stasis has never been more profound.

That’s why we have cheered as the school board and administration of the chronically failing Proviso East have plunged into a full remaking of the teaching and learning model at our high school. East is one of 10 Illinois public high schools to receive state support for a conversion to a highly personalized, competency-based education model. 

Beginning with this school year, the entire learning process for all freshmen will shift to a model that empowers students to study and master skills at their own pace and to use models beyond a teacher lecturing at the podium for 48 minutes. That ancient model might work for some dwindling portion of our kids, but it is part of the explanation for why we are leaving so many students behind.

Here’s what’s remarkable and wonderful: Proviso East Principal Patrick Hardy expected most of the rookie teachers — 23-25 newbies — to take part in a week’s worth of training in the new methods this summer. But 60 teachers turned out to learn the methods of the Marzano Academy, the respected educational consultant hired by the district to implement this sea change in education. 

That’s huge and it is awesome. It reflects pride in Proviso East, recognition that change is the only path forward and faith in the risk-taking model of Hardy and Supt. Jesse Rodriguez.

Tickets for rowdy funerals

There is no justifying the behavior that takes place at what have come to be called “rowdy” funeral processions. Forest Parkers have seen quite enough of the traffic weaving, lane blocking, obscene and sometimes gun-toting parade of knuckleheads posing as mourners as they leave the city’s West Side for near west suburban cemeteries.

The behavior is anti-social to the living and disrespectful to the person about to be put below ground.

It is also a tough form of criminal nonsense to crack down on since no police officer wants to intervene in what ought to be a solemn moment, especially a solemn moment with every possibility of going seriously sideways. 

That’s why the tactic employed last week by Forest Park police is so interesting and creative. On Saturday, July 21, such a rowdy procession made its way down Roosevelt Road, through Berwyn and then through Forest Park. Police protected but did not directly intervene. 

Instead, using video from a police camera in Berwyn, our police department took down the license plate numbers of 10 drivers actively violating traffic laws and sent out citations by certified mail. 

Will this work? We’re not sure. But it is a game effort to hold people to account and hold them to some norm of how we, as a single society, ought to go about burying those we love.

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