Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Change In Oak Lawn

It won't come easy

Shortly after Oak Lawn schools eliminated pork and Jell-O from cafeteria menus, Halloween and Christmas have been replaced respectively by a fall and a winter festival in the district:
The decision affects the children at four elementary schools in Oak Lawn and one junior high school in Bridgeview.

The district has a 30 percent Arab-American population, many of whom practice Islam. The superintendent says the reason for the change in tradition comes after one parent wanted Ramadan decorations put up inside Columbus Manor Elementary. They were taken down.

Superintendent Tom Smyth said, "I go back to our policy which says that public schools are to remain neutral in this respect."

Ridgeland School District 122 has called for an emergency meeting on the issue, to be held on Tuesday.
What's the emergency? The school board made controversial changes in school policy without consulting the public which immediately impact students. The board knew this would anger a great many parents (probably a large majority) while putting the onus on them to change the status quo, something they have little time to accomplish.

I know the area very well, though its demographics are changing rapidly enough to give me pause in saying this. The people of Oak Lawn and the immediate surrounding areas are far more resistant to changes like these than any people anywhere else in the Chicago metropolitan area. As I see things, they will not accept these changes and will fight them tooth and nail.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune reports:
After meeting for 2 1/2 hours in a closed session, board members decided to keep the district's Christmas and Halloween parties and add a Ramadan celebration.


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