Average SAT scores increase at Taft High School
by BRIAN NADIG
An increase in the average SAT score at Taft High School and the possibility of a new hat policy for students were discussed at the June 4 meeting of the Taft School Local School Council.
While the average score for the state and the Chicago Public Schools went down this spring compared to last year, Taft’s average not only went up but also set an "all-time record" for the school, Taft principal Mark Grishaber said. "I’m really proud of these numbers, but the credit goes to the teachers (and) the students."
According to 2019 preliminary results, Taft’s average score for juniors was 997 (out of 1,600) compared to 972 in 2018, while the average for the Chicago Public Schools was 950 (953 in 2018) and 998 for the state (1008 in 2018), according to Taft resident principal Dan Kuzma.
In addition, 6 percent more Taft juniors met SAT reading benchmarks and 10 percent more met math benchmarks compared to last year.
Also at the meeting, the council delayed a vote on a proposal to allow students to wear hats during the school day, including in classrooms. The vote is scheduled for the LSC meeting held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9.
Members of the Student Voice Committee have said that the current ban is not enforced in all classrooms and have requested that any policy change be in place prior to the start of the next school year. They argue that Taft doesn’t have the gang problems that are often cited for hat bans and that the hats would help encourage self-expression among students.
Grishaber said that dress code decisions come within the purview of the LSC and that the school would adhere to the council’s decision. He said that while a reversal of the hat ban would not be "a big deal," he expressed concern about potential conflicts.
"I’m really concerned I’m going to gave a MAGA thing," Grishaber said in reference to the Donald Trump’s presidential campaign’s "Make America Great Again" red hats. One teacher responded that some students already wear pro-Trump T-shirts, resulting in no disruptions.
Grishaber said that while the dropping of the uniform policy 5 years ago had widespread support, "70 percent of the parents said no way" to hats in a survey conducted by the voice committee.
Teacher Bridget Doherty Trebing said that allowing hats would not negatively impact the school. "They’ll still be the wonderful students we have today," she said.
However, reaction from council members was mixed.
Faculty LSC member Chad Nishibayashi said that hats would detract from a "level of professionalism" which the school is trying to teach students. "I’ve never worn a hat in an interview," he said.
Parent LSC member Jessica Ayala said that the council should consider the concerns of parents before changing the policy, adding that it is "a sensitive matter" and that parents have their own "way to raise their children."
Other council members said that the allowing hats would be in line with the fact that students already can wear shorts and T-shirts while in school and that existing bans on offensive language and depictions of guns and drugs on shirts would apply to the hats.
Community LSC member Goran Davidovac said that hats are a staple in his life and does not object to allowing hats during the school day. "The only place I take off my hat is at church," said Davidovac, who wears a baseball cap at most council meetings.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) attended the meeting and urged the council to take into consideration the concerns of parents before voting on any changes to the policy.
Meanwhile, Grishaber reported that the school system would be funding a nurse and a social worker at the Taft Freshman Academy, which is opening in mid-August at 4071 N. Oak Park Ave.