David Schrodt, a 55-year-old finance lawyer who lives in River Forest, is passionate about big ideas and if elected to District 200 School Board in April, he said he would focus on two in particular.
“I propose that Oak Park and River Forest High School incorporate two things into its educational paradigm,” Schrodt said. “One is the teaching of mindfulness and the second is something so new that the language around it is not yet fully formed.
“At the college level, there’s a very rich academic field in what’s called new media studies or information studies or media literacy,” said Schrodt, who is running for the first time. to an elected position as one of six candidates vying for four open seats on the roll.
“We should do serious studies about this world our children live in and teach them about the systems that are there,” he said.
Schrodt said he wanted to catalyze a community conversation about how the OPRF can be a leader in helping students understand and navigate the digital landscape where they spend much of their time.
But incorporating this focus on mindfulness and media literacy into the OPRF educational environment will require the school board to hire a new superintendent who intuitively understands the unique challenges and opportunities of technologies that affect the students’ lives, Schrodt said.
This person, he added, cannot be another middle-aged administrator who can tick all the boxes, but “has no experience and no idea of this hyped world these kids live in.” .
Schrodt said he strenuously disagrees with the current board’s efforts to vote on superintendent D200. The replacement for Joylynn Pruitt-Adams before new council members are sworn in after the April election.
Board members, such as D200 board chair Sara Dixon-Spivy, have said that handing the responsibility for hiring the next superintendent to new board members would be unfair to the new office holders, who are not as familiar with the ins and outs of the district. as current members of the Board of Directors.
Board members also want to make sure they select a candidate who will help implement their preferred political agenda, most important of which is to ensure that the OPRF becomes more racially equitable.
One of the top priorities of the current D200 board majority is to ensure that a planned restructuring of the freshman curriculum, which is expected to begin in fall 2022, gets a final vote of approval. ‘approval.
The aim of the restructuring is to “ensure that the majority of our first-year students follow a rigorous, high-level curriculum in English, history, science and world languages; we are also making adjustments to math curricula,” according to a joint statement from the D200 administration and the Faculty Senate released in February 2020.
The restructuring will effectively end the practice of dividing incoming OPRF freshmen into separate placement and honors programs. Historically, black and brown students have been disproportionately placed in the less rigorous college placement path.
Schrodt has said that if elected, he will vote against the proposed curriculum change, but no, he insists, because he is against racial equity or does not recognize the difficult racial challenges of high school.
“Based on the current situation, I would vote against it, but not because I am against the principle on which it is based,” he said, adding that he does not think the changes to the program will solve the underlying problem of offering a unique and rigorous curriculum to students of all races, ethnicities and social classes.
“I am a person who cares deeply about justice, but at the same time I care about getting it right and I want to make sure that the school not only makes the right choices, but also implements them in a the right way,” Schrodt said, arguing that the empirical screening studies he has seen do not demonstrate that the planned restructuring of the OPRF curriculum will be effective.
He said he also predicts a “backlash” that will occur if the district implements the district’s proposed program changes. When asked to explain the nature of the backlash, including criticisms that it may be based on white resentment, Schrodt countered that the backlash he is referring to is not the same as what s is produced nationally.
“Insofar as the backlash looks like what we’re seeing on the national stage and what’s going on with all that Trump bullshit, am I okay with that? No,” he said. “But if this is a reality-based backlash that this program was not thought out and planned properly, what do you say?”
Schrodt compared the proposed curriculum changes to his work on the executive committee of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, which he says was instrumental in the Pretrial Fairness Act, a bill passed by Illinois. House in January and which would effectively end the cash bond.
“This act is really, really good,” Schrodt said. “It will change the way our legal system works and make it substantially aligned with the principles of justice. It was well thought out and took years to set up. I don’t think in this case [with respect to curriculum changes at OPRF]all the due diligence and real hard work that needs to be done in these things has been done.