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Racial Equity Initiatives

One of the unique aspects of Oak Park and River Forest High School, or OPRFHS as it’s commonly known, is its racial diversity: 56 percent of our 3,400 students identify as white, while 20 percent identify as African-American, 12 percent as Hispanic, 9 percent as multiracial, and 3 percent as Asian. As a school, it is our mission to ensure that all students, regardless of race, have the resources and support they need to achieve their full potential. One of our challenges is differences in student outcomes that are predictable by race, with white students, as a group, outperforming African-American, Hispanic, and multiracial students. This disparity isn’t unique to OPRF, of course; it’s experienced by schools throughout the United States. But we are intensely focused on eliminating these differences.

Racial equity is a term heard frequently at OPRFHS. It refers to the condition that would be achieved if students’ racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how they fare. While the current disparities often are referred to as the "achievement gap," we believe that this incorrectly puts the onus on students. Instead, we believe that the issue should be reframed as an opportunity gap, because it isn’t the students who need to be fixed. It’s the system.

We believe it is our responsibility as an institution to identify and remove unconscious biases and system-wide barriers that inhibit success for all students. To achieve racial equity we must work to address the root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes eliminating policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce or fail to eliminate different outcomes by race. The time for talking about systemic change is over. Oak Park and River Forest High School is committed to taking actions that will create equitable opportunities for all our students to achieve their full potential.


History of Ongoing Work