It is hard to put into words the direction the Elgin Area School District U-46 is going. The dust has barely settled since last year's comment from board member Tracy O'Neal Ellis at a meeting I attended that "students need teachers who look more like them." Now Melanie Meidel and Joanne Walters of the U-46 HR department said at the Feb. 24 board meeting that they have an active campaign to recruit more ethnically diverse teachers, in a district with more than 20 percent of its teachers who are ethnically diverse. When a parent complained that the goal should be to hire the best-qualified teachers, she was met with verbal condemnation by Ellis. It also was recommended by HR that if not enough ethnically qualified teachers can be found, they would seek teachers from outside the United States and bring them here on visas.
I have to say, "Are you kidding?" When the district's enrollment of approximately 40,000 students has not changed by more than 1 percent over the last eight years, I find it troubling that a new hiring mode is even being discussed let alone being carried out in this manner. Just last month the district settled a discrimination lawsuit after eight years. This cost the taxpayers not only the $2.5 million settlement but the thousands of dollars in legal fees as well. And with this, Ms. Ellis and the HR department now embark on a mission to create an issue which could lead to another discrimination lawsuit. At what point do they learn from their mistakes?
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I ask all parents and taxpayers in U-46 to contact the school board and superintendent and express your opinions on this travesty. It is time to take back our schools from those who view this as a social experiment.