“We the People,” begins the U.S. Constitution. Those same three words open the State of Illinois Constitution. Neither document reads “we the politicians” or “we the ambitious.” Our forefathers set it up so we would be governing ourselves. When not enough honest and smart people put the self in self government, we get what we have now: a fiscal and moral mess.
Fortunately, there are individuals stepping up to lead, and one good example is Renata Sliva who is a candidate for the Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education in Will County. Sliva, a 30-year resident of Naperville, saw all 8 of her children graduate from district 204 and has been following the operations of the district for years. “I am using my candidacy,” she says, “to point out problems most people may not realize exist.”
Ms. Sliva participated in three recent candidate debates and noted that she was surprised that she stands “pretty much on the opposite side of the issues against all six of my opponents. The only issue we all agreed on was that all elementary schools should have air conditioning.”
Even when it comes to Common Core, her opponents, who describe themselves as Republicans, support it. Sliva, an elected GOP Precinct Committeeman in Wheatland Township, is firmly opposed to Common Core. She outlines why at her website www.renatasliva.com. Many of the problems stem from the source materials used by the schools. “Culture and politics starts at the schools,” she said, and kids are graduating uninformed about history and government.
Renata Sliva was born and raised in socialist Czechoslovakia and came to America in the early 1980s “to find religious and political freedom.” She explained that a big problem with being a student there in the 1970s was that there was so little information available. Today, in this information age, Sliva believes that there is so much information that most kids don’t know where to look or what to believe. The result is low information kids in what is called the information age. Sliva says that must change, because “from here we don’t have any place to go — there is no other America.”
At a recent meeting with a group of high school students, Sliva asked them if they felt they had the freedom to speak up at their school — did they enjoy their First Amendment rights? The students seemed confused and didn’t want to answer. When she pressed them, the group was divided, with half saying they felt they could speak up and half felt they could not.
“[F]or several months now young Republicans at Neuqua High School cannot have their club going,” Sliva says, “because none of the teachers would sponsor the club. In my opinion that is an effective way to shut down conservative voice at the school, of course I remember how pro-life students were treated.”
At a forum in February, she presented a statement about her background and candidacy which included this:
During the past 8 years or so I paid much more attention of what is happening at our schools. I stand for freedom of information. The school and district administrations have not been honest with me. Let me tell you about a recent example: Just after November election I overheard there were safe spaces in one of our high schools. I wondered whether that is the same safe space as in colleges where students “hide” from president Trump. I emailed all school principals with the question if there were safe spaces in high schools and if so, what kind of safe spaces these were. They did not answer and instead referred me to the district administrator.
The bottom line of a long conversation was that the administrator was not aware of safe spaces in our high schools. Then I received a picture from my contact and there is a safe space in that one high school. It is hard to understand and unacceptable that administration would withhold any information involving regular operations of the schools from public. It is disturbing and erodes the trust in the administration and I will advocate for a transparency in our schools.
Experiences like that are common for concerned citizens attempting to interact with their local “public” schools.
The solution, Renata Sliva says, is for more people to get involved — they need to speak out about what’s wrong in the schools. Unfortunately, she says, too often “people sense or know things aren’t right but they’re afraid to get involved because it will not be good for them or their families.”
The problems are many — from curriculum to financial. A close examination of the excessive spending, overly-generous contracts, waste and debt lead some experts to view many public school districts as among the worst run governmental units. That is saying something, since we all know the condition of our federal and state governments.
Of course now it’s not just financial issues that plague our government-run schools. When school boards and school district administrators debate whether to allow gender-confused boys to use the girl’s locker rooms – well, there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be added for Illinoisans to get a sense of the quality of the leadership in those schools.
What is needed now more than ever is for individuals to step up to help address the many serious issues in our government-run public schools. Candidate Renata Sliva is setting a great example.