Is District 86 Countering ‘Systemic Racism’?

HINSDALE, IL — Hinsdale High School District 86 is addressing the issues of racial and cultural equity, the superintendent says. But one critic contends District 86 is “resegregating” its two high schools.

In a newsletter last week, Superintendent Tammy Prentiss wrote a public letter that promoted the district’s efforts for equity.

“The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others have served as a powerful and painful reminder of the racial bias and systemic racism that continue to diminish and devalue people of color here at home and around the world,” Prentiss said. “In light of these terrible and troubling events, and the protests that have been organized in response to them, I want to reaffirm that achieving equity and inclusion across the district will remain a top priority going forward.”

She said the district is being led by the Building Equity Action Team, or BEAT, and the Culture and Equity Leadership Team, or CELT. The district, she said, wants to ensure that students, staff and families of color are treated with compassion, respect and dignity and that the schools are safe and welcoming for all.

This effort, Prentiss said, will require everyone to keep an open mind and recognize that the journey toward “our ideal future” will not be quick or easy.

“There will be difficulties and disagreements along the way, and conversations that leave us feeling upset or uncomfortable,” Prentiss said. “However, if we remain vigilant, stand together and keep the needs of our students at the forefront of our thoughts and actions, I truly believe we will be successful and emerge from this a stronger, better and more unified community.”

For years, residents in Darien and Burr Ridge have identified what they see as disparities between Hinsdale Central in Hinsdale and Hinsdale South in Darien. They say the school board could change the attendance boundaries between the two schools to bring more equity.

South has a greater percentage of low-income students — 27 percent to Central’s 6 percent. Blacks and Hispanics make up 33 percent of South and 9 percent of Central, according to the Illinois Report Card website.

On the Nextdoor social media website last week, Burr Ridge resident Alan C. Jones, a retired West Chicago High School District 94 principal, said Prentiss’ letter demonstrates a difference between words and deeds.

“For the last three years at least, various community members have provided documentation of a district engaged in a purposeful effort to resegregate our two high schools and in this process systematically strip South of its academic legitimacy,” he said on Next Door

Forming committees and honoring Black History Month, he said, are “symbolic gestures that attempt to cover up the underlying agenda” of the board and administration.

In the mid-1990s, the two schools’ enrollments were about the same. Now, South’s enrollment is about a third of Central’s, according to a Patch analysis. Central, Jones said, gets a “rich” academic and extracurricular program, while South is starved of resources and programs.

“If this district was truly living up to its mission statement and to all the words and committees written in this newsletter, then they would be in the process of redrawing attendance boundaries to reflect, in Dr. Prentiss own words, the goal of ‘achieving equity and inclusion across our district,'” Jones said.

Here are other stories about differences between Central and South high schools:

Unequal Opportunities At South And Central: Critic

Hinsdale South Getting Raw End Of Deal?

‘False Narrative’ About Hinsdale South: Principal Speaks Out

District 86 Treats South And Central Equally: Lawyers

Central And South ‘Very Similar’: Lawyer


via Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch

September 21, 2020 at 11:25AM

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