The Rockford Files

Shades of Blue

The Rockford Public Schools, as longtime readers of Chronicles know, have seen more than their fair share of troubles.  With the end, in June 2002, of the 13-year-long desegregation suit and its accompanying rule by the federal courts, and the hiring of Dennis Thompson as superintendent in 2004, however, the school board has begun to get the district’s financial house in order—although next year’s $300 million budget for just under 28,000 students can hardly be called a model of fiscal restraint.  Still, the district is now running a budget surplus and chipping away at decades of accumulated debt.  This November, voters will be asked to renew a hefty tax levy, passed in 2002, to keep the district moving in the right direction.

Which makes now a rather bad time for bad press, from the district’s standpoint.  So the headline of Rockford Register Star political editor Chuck Sweeny’s June 20 column, “What’s the Hidden Meaning in Da Warrior Code?” must have caused some consternation down at district headquarters.

The closing of Rockford’s West High School in the late 1980’s prompted the desegregation lawsuit, and, in the fallout, the school was ultimately reopened as West Middle School.  This year, West held a “rites of passage” ceremony—one of those pseudograduations that parents have come to demand and that...

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