President Carpenter, Superintendent Law, members of the Board of Education and Administration: My name is Andy Laux. I’m co-President of HHSTA, and I’ve proudly taught in District 86 for more than two decades. Given the difficult decisions the Board must make as a result of the failed referendum, I stand before you to speak as a District 86 teacher representing over 350 teachers concerned about our Tradition of Excellence. I say “our tradition of excellence” because for decades teachers like my colleagues and I, as well as those who came before us, have been vital to creating and maintaining the “Tradition of Excellence” that has come to define our District. As teachers, we take the steward’s long view of this tradition, taking great care to ensure it will be there for those who come after us. Therefore, as teachers we are uniquely positioned to fully comprehend how any and all cuts will impact our students.
Every program this district offers is crucial to the academic, social-emotional, and personal growth of the whole student. Just about any cuts you make have the potential to negatively impact that growth. There’s no getting around that. However, I’m not here to advocate that any particular program be eliminated or saved. Instead, I am here to request that the Board use as its guiding principle a firm set of criteria which above all prioritizes maintaining the district’s tradition of excellence – a tradition that makes Hinsdale District 86 a truly exceptional district.
I know Hinsdale exceptionalism is easy to understand in the abstract. But what does this mean in light of the failed referendum’s effect on the district’s financial reality? What do you prioritize? As a 21-year teacher in this district, that’s an easy answer….you must prioritize student opportunities.
Anyone familiar with education in Illinois knows that the reason our district is a “destination district,” a district that is recognized as exceptional at the state and national level, is because as a learning community – parents, students, faculty, administration, and Board – we decided to offer an exceptional range of outstanding programs, delivered at an exceptional level, to all our students, at both our schools. Our tradition of excellence is firmly rooted in this wide range of academic opportunities offered to students. Cutting student opportunities is cutting at the very heart of our district’s tradition of excellence.
We all understand the financial reality at the heart of this current crisis. But, if you choose to elevate finances as the most important criteria in these difficult decisions, I fear that you may do irreparable damage to our district and its future. Our community will suffer. Our students will suffer. Our reputation will suffer.
On behalf of the teachers of this district I ask this: Please prioritize student opportunities and academic excellence as you make the difficult decisions moving forward. Keep the vision of our tradition of excellence at the forefront of the decision making process.
Whether or not another referendum is put on the ballot in April is up to you. However, what my experience as a professional educator, in athletics, and in life in general has taught me is that when you get a group of people working together towards a common goal using clear criteria – great things can be accomplished!!
It is my sincere hope that the legacy of this Board, and the community that it represents, will be that in a time of very real crisis, in which our “Tradition of Excellence” was truly on the line….this Board and the District 86 community stood up and met that challenge to ensure that all of the children of this community, now and well into the future, will continue to receive an education of academic exceptionalism – one that develops their whole person.
Thank you for your consideration.