PJStar Letter: Give Peoria schools more credit

When the PARCC results were provided in the Sunday, Nov. 6 paper, I examined the results. To my surprise, the only high schools included were the three in Peoria Public Schools. Curious, I visited the Illinois Report Card website.

After years of witnessing the systemic bias against Peoria Public Schools by the Journal Star, Peoria City Council, real estate agents, and other parents, I believe central Illinois' other high schools were left out because Richwoods outperformed most. This does not fit the narrative.

The only school above Richwoods — Morton High School — has a mere fraction of the low-income students found at Richwoods. Research has shown repeatedly the increased challenge of helping low-income students succeed. Many schools with a far smaller low income level had lower scores than Richwoods, including Dunlap, the perpetually lauded area school district. Richwoods is also the most diverse of the schools, which makes this accomplishment even more impressive.

I do not point this out to disparage the other schools. I recognize the test is difficult. I agree a school can’t be judged by a single test. But that is how Peoria Public Schools have been judged, and I would like to change the narrative.

Please stop misrepresenting these schools as undesirable, suggesting the grass is greener on the other side. Yes, many Peoria schools have difficulties, but they also have exceedingly high levels of low-income students. No one in the country has found a solution to this overwhelming disadvantage.

I am proud to be a Richwoods parent. My kids love their school, feel safe there, work together with a diverse population, and are receiving a top-notch education. I could say the same about other schools in the district. It’s time to give Peoria Public Schools more credit.

Shannon Rule