Notes from Action Ridge General Meeting on April 12, 2023
Submitted by Sue Fox McGovern
Liz Swanson greeted the 22 members who were present at the general meeting and then introduced the speaker member Ginger Pennington.
Ginger, a resident of Park Ridge since 2011 and a professor at Northwestern University, addressed the topic of how Park Ridge School District 64 is handling the issue of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in its schools. She said this topic “has been contentious.” While she noted that the student body in D64 is more diverse than in the past, it is currently 80% white.
Ginger said there was some “nastiness around the current election” because of pushback to DEI efforts from some parents. These parents, she said, believe that schools should focus wholly on academics and not “encroach in my family’s business.” Some Action Ridge members said they are hearing comments in the Park Ridge community advising others to stay away from D64, and that “it’s not the place you want to work.”
Ginger shared the “Equity in District 64” statement with us. It reads:
“District 64 is committed to educational equity, which means all students have equitable access to the educational resources and support they need to achieve their full potential in District 64, students’ needs will not go unmet due to race, ethnicity, dominant language, disability, gender, sexual orientation, religion, family background, and/or socioeconomic status.”
Ginger mentioned that the D64 Diversity & Equity Leadership Team (DELT), which is composed of D64 parents and staff, is moving ahead to advance inclusion. However, she added that pushback on DELT’s work and other issues contributed to tension that resulted in the resignation of Superintendent Olson. She also explained that initiatives by some anti-DEI groups, such as Awake IL, which is based in Naperville, have support in Park Ridge.
Ginger said that the newly elected candidates for D64 worked hard to get elected and now need our support at future board meetings. She pointed out that Action Ridge members and their friends can help through the following actions:
Show Up: Write supportive letters, emails, and social media messages and attend board meetings.
Speak Up: Do not remain silent in the face of misinformation and disinformation around these issues. Respectfully speaking up with accurate information and/or reputable resources helps.
Inform: Help friends, neighbors, and acquaintances learn accurate information about the nature of DEI initiatives to help counter misinformation.
Liz will publish the dates of upcoming D64 meetings in her weekly eblasts. She will also provide us with the emails of the four new board members so we can reach out and support them.
Ranked-choice voting: Keep an eye out for SB1456 to become active and file a witness slip to push through ranked-choice voting. If you haven’t already registered to sign a witness slip, follow the instructions that will be included in the email.
Taste of the Hawks: Nan will be present for Taste of the Hawks at Maine South High School, Wednesday, April 19, from 5-7 pm to share the mission of Action Ridge with high school students.
Earth Day: All are invited to Action Ridge’s table at Maine Park Saturday, April 22, 11 am-3 pm for Earth Day.
Criminal Justice/Policing: All are welcome to attend Coffee with the Chief. We announced an incorrect date for this. The CWC will be Monday May 8 at 7p, at the Park Ridge Public Library on the 3rd floor.
Gun Violence Prevention: All are invited to Beer on the Wall Monday, April 24, 5:30-8:30 pm to write thank you notes to representatives who supported a ban on assault weapons.
May 10: The May meeting will focus on affordable housing.
June 14: The June meeting will provide updates on the efforts to advance the ERA.