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  • The E3 Group

More bad press for local schools and equal outcome (equity) initiatives

“Data from Oak Park show that this reform (equity) has lowered the achievement of students denied acceleration without improving outcomes for other students.”

You would be wrong if you thought a quote like this was published by Oak Park investigative journalism. Instead, it comes from 800 miles away in a scathing and comprehensive analysis of policy measures that former Oak Park District 97 Superintendent Carol Kelley is re-deploying in Princeton New Jersey’s K-8 District 12. Dr. Carol Kelley was Oak Park Superintendent for six years beginning in 2015.

The report An Inequitable New Approach to Equity in Princeton Public Schools was release by Princeton parents on May 30th, 2022, just one year after Kelley’s appointment. It was accompanied by a letter to the editor in a local newspaper from parents who “express serious concerns” that Kelley is implementing the same “equal outcomes, without exceptions” policies they say failed Oak Park students and families.

In the time under Kelley’s policies, Oak Park third graders NOT meeting expectations in English language arts rose from 31.8% in 2015 to 61.8% in 2019. Still, upon leaving Oak Park, Kelley received praise by D97 Board President Keecia Broy who wrote on the D97 website “We are grateful for her leadership and unwavering commitment to equity, which has contributed to meaningful advancements in student learning and district operations.”

The report is 85 pages, mentions Oak Park thirty-two times, and cites example after example of Kelley implementing policies and communication practices that kept the community in the dark, while new policy called for sacrificing academic potential in Oak Park students. With the benefit of hindsight into D97 performance over Kelley’s tenure, Princeton parents wrote “The community must engage proactively now”.

Why wasn’t there outrage among Oak Park parents when Kelley decided to elevate a social program over education? The Princeton report alleges a “lack of transparency, accountability, and good governance” likely helped advance radical policy without the balance of community understanding and approval.

A lack of transparency seems a frequent companion to new policy in our local schools. River Forest District 90 Superintendent Ed Condon was notified in February of violations of the IL Open Meetings Act following his administration’s implementation of similar equal outcome policies. This, as new district policies have widened the achievement gap. Oak Park River Forest High School Superintendent Gregory Johnson, who’s administration has adopted policy where “everything is about equity” at the school, has taken to name-calling as one way of dissuading inquiry and muddling community understanding.

We find ourselves in a situation of dual declines in our Oak Park and River Forest public schools: transparency and student achievement are at all time lows. It’s easy to blame covid, but a more thoughtful inquiry would ferret out the effects of all new curriculum and instructional practices.

Like Princeton parents asked…this group of concerned parents asks...will residents engage proactively now?


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