Fact or Fake?

The recent claim that Oak Park and River Forest High Schools are going to start implementing a race-based grading system in the upcoming academic year was recently reviewed by Reuter’s fact check blog.

The Problem

According to these local articles, many were claiming that these schools were going to implement a race-based grading system. This claim was based on evidence that, “Teachers may unintentionally let non-academic factors—like student behavior or whether a student showed up to virtual class—interfere with their final evaluation of students.”

Reuters first tried to contact the West Cook News, those who wrote the article claiming these race-based grading implementations, but they didn’t receive a response. However, the school told Reuters that they had no intention of changing the way they implement grades and issued the following statement:

“OPRFHS does not, nor has it ever had a plan to, grade any students differently based on race. The article contains a variety of misleading and inaccurate statements. The article’s mischaracterization of the Board meeting is unfortunate and has caused unnecessary confusion.”

Oak Park River Forest High School

The board meeting focused on a lot of different improvements the school wanted to implement regarding grading equality. The discussion was focused on grades being based on the students academic knowledge rather than their behavior. There was nothing mentioned about changing the grades to be based on the race of a student. 

Reuters Conclusion 

Reuters explained that these false claims stemmed from a misinterpretation of slides that were presented at a board meeting on May 26, 2022. However, Reuters went through the slides and fact-checked them and found that there were no mention of “​​altering academic outcomes based on ethnicity or skin color.”

Reuters’s verdict on the matter was that the information from the West Cook News article was misleading. 

Additional source #1 – opinion

An article from RedState written by Kira Davis, which sided with the West Cook News article, continued with the thinking that these schools were changing their grading system to be based on race. This was clearly an opinion article because she did not cite any sources in which she retrieved her information. She only brought up the board meeting document, which if you read it closely, does not promote this line of reasoning at all. 

This article represents the notion of sharing information without actually doing research into whether the information is true or false. When I first read the title of the article in question, I was taken back and utterly surprised that something that horrible would be allowed to happen in our schools.

If I didn’t use the techniques we learned in this week’s readings, I might have reposted this article myself. However, I now know that I need to look deeper into the original source. For instance, in this case, the original source was the board meeting slides. Additionally, by reading the original source, I was able to gauge my own perspective on the matter. 

Additional source #2 – fact

There were not many news articles that supported the truth. However, an article by Insider went straight to the source and was able to correctly explain that these schools never intended to change their grading system to be based on race. The article gave more insight into how this propaganda took off in the first place by explaining: “Despite the article making baseless claims and coming from a questionable source with no listed author, the story gained attention after several influential conservative media figures shared it on social media.”

This article cited the schools official statement regarding the untrue West Cook News article. In addition, they tried reaching out to West Cook News with no response.

This article shows us a good example of sifting through information with principles explained in our lecture. They were thorough, accurate, fair and civil. They thought independently and were transparent with their audience. They also took the time to examine the source of the information. This included reviewing the reputation of the authors and their past integrity with regard to truthful reporting.