An Illinois high school embraces racism that would make old Jim Crow proud

One of the most cherished beliefs of the old-time racists, the ones who supported slavery or, when slavery ended, instituted and enforced the Jim Crow laws, was that the darker the skin, the more stupid the person. They were even able to provide “evidence” to support this theory by depriving minorities of access to education so that the racists could later use their lack of education as evidence of their “stupidity.” That was then. Now, Oak Park and River Forest High School (OPRF), in Oak Park, Illinois, has announced that the darker you are, the less the school will expect of you academically. Jim Crow would be proud.

Oak Park is a suburb of Chicago and is home to around 53,000 people. It’s majority White (66%), with Blacks coming in at 18% or so and Hispanics at 9% or so. It’s an affluent community, with a median income of almost $97,000 and a median home price of $403,000. Nearly 96% of homes boast a computer and almost 89% of homes have broadband. Around 97% of the population has a high school degree and over 70% have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Image: Classroom by Sam Balye on Unsplash.

The suburb has the highest voter turnout in Cook County and is solidly Democrat. In other words, it’s filled with and run by White progressives. That demographic explains why the OPRF has decided that the best way to deal with White privilege and Black victimhood is to give minorities a free pass through school, no education required:

Oak Park and River Forest High School administrators will require teachers next school year to adjust their classroom grading scales to account for the skin color or ethnicity of its students.

School board members discussed the plan called “Transformative Education Professional Development & Grading” at a meeting on May 26, presented by Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning Laurie Fiorenza.

In an effort to equalize test scores among racial groups, OPRF will order its teachers to exclude from their grading assessments variables it says disproportionally hurt the grades of black students. They can no longer be docked for missing class, misbehaving in school or failing to turn in their assignments, according to the plan.


Advocates for so-called “equity based” grading practices, which seek to raise the grade point averages of black students and lower scores of higher-achieving Asian, white and Hispanic ones, say new grading criteria are necessary to further school districts’ mission of DEIJ, or “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice.”


[Assistant Superior intended for Student Learning Laurie] Fiorenza called for a switch to race-based grading last August, after issuing a report chronicling a spike in “F” grades by OPRF students in the 2020-21 school year.

“OPRF’s administration will adopt language that makes and keeps the system visible and continues to name racism as a complex interconnected structure,” she wrote. “We must recognize the unique challenges faced during the pandemic intensify the need for a systemic approach to confronting the racial and socioeconomic discrepancies often experienced by our underrepresented student population.”

In other words, the school failed the kids throughout the lockdowns and is now covering for that failure with a dressed-up version of social promotion, which passes kids from one grade to the next without ever bothering to educate them. (See, e.g., August Fells Savage Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, a high school that saw almost half its senior class have a GPA below 0.13.)

There is nothing more demeaning than pointing to an entire racial group and effectively announcing, “We know you are incapable of educational achievement, so we’ll just pretend you succeeded.” Nor does it make it better to point to the fact that these students face greater challenges than their White, affluent peers.

Why do I say that? Because I know Jewish American history (they came up from the tenements to become middle class in one generation by focusing on academics) and because I went to school with literally thousands of kids who had either immigrated from China or whose parents had immigrated from China. At least half of these kids lived in slums and many never heard English at home. Nevertheless, they were almost invariably at the top of the class (especially the STEM classes, but even the liberal arts classes) because their cultural imperative was to study like crazy.

But White progressives in Oak Park don’t think minority kids are worthy of a cultural imperative that demands that they use their brains. Instead, like the slavers of old or the Jim Crow sheriff in the 1950s, these Whites (along with race-hustling Black leftists) are certain that Blacks are incapable of academic achievement. It’s disgusting and, for the children trapped in these school districts, it’s heartbreaking. They are in schools that could educate them if it weren’t for the dominant, leftist White culture telling them, “We know you can’t do it so don’t bother.”

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