Savage-Williams: Safety an issue at ETHS

Pat Savage-Williams, special education coordinator at the Northfield campus of New Trier High School, sees safety at Evanston Township High School as an issue in her quest for election to the District 202 School Board.

Speaking to potential voters in the April 9 school board elections at a coffee Sunday on her behalf, the school psychologist said it is important, in her view, to see that the high school is a safe environment for students, even as violence may occur in the area surrounding the school.
Other issues she identified in her talk: finances, curriculum, and articulation with District 65, the elementary and middle school district that feeds its students into the high school.
On finances, she says that a shift in pension responsibilities from the state to local school boards will likely require budget cuts that she would hope to keep from adversely affecting the classroom.
On curriculum, she said she would join with other board members in taking a close look at evaluation data to determine what, if any, changes should be made in the program, such as freshman humanities and biology, that have resulted in the elimination of honors-only classes in those subjects.
As for relations with District 65, she said she is open to ways to improve the articulation between the two districts to enhance the ability of incoming freshmen to succeed at the high school.
She noted that for 25 years she served as a school psychologist at District 65 before moving on to her present position at New Trier.
In her professional capacity, Savage-Williams said she has spent considerable time in classrooms at all levels and has been involved with teams dealing with individual problems of students.
“Given my strong understanding of the many pressures that adolescents grapple with today,” she says in her campaign literature, “I believe that my professional expertise would be an asset to the school board.”
Top: Savage-Williams at a campaign coffee on Sunday.
 

Comments

Comment from the candidate

Comment by Pat Savage-Williams on October 30, 2011 at 7:24am on the Pacific Educational Group website:

Here is my truth:  (my PREP-still under construction!)
I believe that God has ordered my life and my work.  As an African American woman, I must be fully engaged in the work of raising racial consciousness despite the challenges before me.  I will not stop because my children are counting on me to do this.  This has to be embedded in every avenue of my life.  I may be fearful, I may die doing it, but I will not-I cannot stop!

This work is hard, exhausting and scary.  I am not always sure if we will ever finish.  However, it is critical to the survival of our African-American children. I am aware that I live in a country that espouses freedom and opportunities that quite frankly, were never available to me and are not available to my children.  As we look at the latest SAT data, it is another affirmation that racism negatively impact the achievement and performance of African American students our country.  It pains me to see this data!   I am deeply distressed by the racial overtones of the political divide and the educational institutions in our country.  I am committed challenging White Supremacy in order to be a part of interrupting the structures that perpetuate these patterns.  I believe that these are very dangerous times and I cannot allow obstacles to distract me from my purpose.
http://pacificeducationalgroup.ning.com/group/beyond-diversity-ii-summit-2011?xg_source=activity

Response from the candidate

(Editor’s Note: The following reply was submitted by Pat Savage-Williams in response to a comment posted by a reader.)
First of all, the piece that is posted is taken out of context, as it is a response to prompts from an activity that I participated in a couple of years ago. 
I was introduced to the Pacific Educational Group through New Trier High School, where I work as a Special Education Coordinator and a Psychologist.   The consultants came to New Trier to present a two-day workshop to give us a framework to help us engage in a thoughtful, compassionate exploration of race and racism and grapple with how each influences the culture and climate of our district. 
This experience included opportunities to practice using strategies for identifying and addressing policies, programs, and practices that negatively impact achievement for students of color and serve as barriers to ALL students receiving a global education.
At New Trier, we use the tool from this workshop as well as several other tools to help us listen and understand each other.  New Trier has utilized this tool along with other strategies and  instruments to help broaden the perspectives of our students and staff. 
 

We have the right to know Savage-William's position on PEG

Wonderful, Ms. Savage-Williams. So now tell us if you support PEG at ETHS.
Do you support detracking freshmen honor courses at ETHS?
It's interesting that you haven't already since these are hot button issues in the D202 race. I sure hope some curious parent will ask straight up if you support PEG and detracking freshmen honors. And when you get asked, I sure hope you make your position crystal clear.
BTW- what did you mean when you wrote on the PEG website - "I am committed challenging White Supremacy in order to be a part of interrupting the structures that perpetuate these patterns." What do you mean by white supremacy? What patterns and structures were you referring to? Are you suggesting there's white supremacy in public schools and, if so, at ETHS?
What did you mean when you wrote that there are "racial overtones" in the educational institutions in our country?"  Explain in detail the racial overtones.
You wrote that SAT data affirms "that racism negatively impact[s] the achievement and performance of African American students our country." Which SAT data exactly were you talking about and how so?
 What  exactly did you mean when you wrote on the PEG website that America's freedoms and opportunities "are not available" to you and your children. Sounds like you have a pretty good job there at New Trier.
I sure hope parents and the media ask you these questions and keep asking you until you fully answer them. Evanston parents and taxpayers have EVERY right to know!!

Really wrote that on the PEG website?

 In 2012, Savage-Williams made $144,552 dollars at her job at New Trier. It's a publc record.
The current median household income in Evanston is $68,292.
If Savage-Williams wrote, at any point that she's "aware that I live in a country that espouses freedom and opportunities that quite frankly, were never available to me and are not available to my children" I'd like to know what she meant considering her income places her in the top 10 percent in our country.

No Vote

Simply this. Anyone who supports PEG, does not get my vote.  Simple as that.
This candidate does support PEG (Savage-Williams). 
If she does not, then please have her explain this to the public, and more importantly explain the context of her post on the PEG blog.

Candidates for and against PEG

As it appears to stand-
Against- Holt, Bezaitis
In favor-  Savage-Williams, Miller (by association of Metz, no refute of this yet)
???- Deb Graham, LIvingston, Ansani, Geiger
Please correct this if I'm wrong or if more information comes out.   I want to have a list for voting day, and this issue is number one for me.

Livingston and Geiger - likely support PEG but let's hear them

Geiger is a professional associate of Superintendent Witherspoon.  So I anticipate that Geiger will be a yes vote for all things PEG.
I have heard that Livingston has attended PEG training and supports keeping PEG and its teachings involved at ETHS.
These are my personal opinions at this point.  Bt they are based on facts observed by me or relayed to me.  If they are incorrect opinions, let's hear from candidates Geiger and Livingston on PEG and whether they support keeping PEG and PEG's teachings at ETHS.  If they don't speak up, I will proceed to vote for others who do not support PEG and its teachings.
I'm not against having those conversations that discuss and help us address all forms of bias.  I do that routinely with friends of mine.  But PEG isn't what our children, ETHS as an institution or our community need. 
So take a stand, Ms. Livingston and Mr. Geiger.  These questions about each candidate's position on PEG have been posted here for well over a week.  Certainly you have seen them or someone has told you about them.

Go meet D202 Candidates-Wed Feb 20th @ 7pm

All 8 District 202 School Board Candidates will participate at Haven Middle School on Wednesday February 20th starting at 7pm in a forum hosted by the Central Street Neighbors Association.

Everyone in Evanston is invited to attend and meet the candidates.

The Haven entrance is located at 2417 Prairie Avenue, just south of Lincoln Street.

Pat is a highly qualified candidate

(Editor's note: The following comment was submitted to Evanston Now by email from a reader who was experiencing technical difficulties with our "Reply" software. We regret the inconvenience.)
My name is Debby Braun.  I would like to begin my comments by pointing out that I am not writing in anonymously and wonder why any reputable news outlet would allow an anonymous reply to be published.
I would like to respond to some negative comments made about the fact that one of Pat Savage-William’s many professional roles is her involvement with PEG.
I have had the privilege of attending a PEG workshop, and I can tell you that those of you who are speaking about it appear to know little about the subject. PEG facilitates a conversation about people being treated differently because of the color of their skin, but would you not agree this is a relevant in our community? 
I believe that the perspective and experience a board member would gain having facilitated a conversation on issues of race and ethnicity would be a valuable asset to the job of being a school board member. The fact that Pat is an educator who has spent her career as a psychologist and high school administrator is an important qualification for this role.
I would like to encourage those of you who do not know Pat Savage-Williams to attend a forum where she will be speaking and ask your questions directly (instead of making anonymous comments which appear to be based on little accurate information). 
I have had three children graduate from ETHS…I know the drill….many in Evanston are willing to talk the talk but fewer walk the walk…I think it is time for our community to have these conversations and deal with the wonderful diversity in our schools and community
At the very least, when you make a statement, have the courage to take responsibility for it by signing your name.

Agree with PEG's teachings?

As another poster noted, I use "anonymous" to avoid the scourge of being labeled a racist simply because I haven't swigged the Kool-Aid served up by the PEG supporters.  Trotting out that old boo-hoo-hoo about anonymous posting attempts to shift the focus from legitimate questions raised by these posts.  Riddle me this -- how does my name change the quality of the questions?  Answer:  it doesn't.
Happy to talk about race.  But it does not appear that PEG and its devotees (including apparently Ms. Savage-Wiliams) want to talk.  They want to label.  They want to put every single person in a "race only" box -- no other descriptors allowed.  They want to call names based on those "race only" boxes.  And as a result, PEG's teachings divide our community and do nothing to help minority children.  All for a very, very handsome fee to PEG.  What a huge racket. 
If you want to help our community close the achievement gap, stop expecting children who have failed to achieve at or above grade level through 8th grade to begin, as if by magic, to achieve in 9th grade.  As another poster noted, there are virtually NO advanced classes for students K through 8 in D65.  A few bump up a year or two in math (based solely on test scores -- no exceptions, not even if a teacher writes a glowing recommendation for the student to advance in math).  Otherwise, every classroom includes a range of races and abilities.
The main reason for low achievement by any race: children who are unprepared for school and its challenges when they show up for kindergarten and never catch up.  No blame, no finger pointing.  Let's just do something about it early in D65.
Ms. Savage-Williams, what do you think of PEG?  Should ETHS continue to use Critical Race Theory in making decisions?  Do you believe that white privilege is the only reason that anyone white succeeds?  Do you believe that the only reason that the achievement gap exists for a significant number of minority students is that those students are being taught by racist teachers?
I'd like to have the candidate write a response to the questions raised by other posters and me.  Hearing from her supporters is not the same.  If you're going to run for office, you're going to need to address PEG and your apparently devotion to its teachings in a meaningful fashion.  Claiming that your post on a public internet site was "taken out of context" does not answer the questions about whether you personally subscribe to PEG's teachings or not.  Waiting to hear from the candidate now.

A tremendous asset to the board

(Editor's note: The following comment was submitted to Evanston Now by email from a reader who was experiencing technical difficulties with our "Reply" software. We regret the inconvenience.)
My name is David Braun; I am a New Trier High School Social Worker.  I would like to share my experience working with Pat Savage-Williams for many years with particular reference to the discussion about PEG and the diversity issue. 
I have worked with Pat both in her role as psychologist and facilitator of PEG and diversity workshops (at New Trier known as SEED- Seeking Educational Equity in Diversity).  The suggestion that she neglects the larger topic of diversity, because she is narrowly focused on the issue of race, I find to be without foundation. 
When leading PEG workshops, where the curriculum is more primarily involved with the topic of race, naturally, this becomes the more primary focus.   However, overall, I find Pat’s skills and approach in administration and staff facilitation to be balanced and highly skillful. 
She has been the Coordinator of Special Education services at the New Trier Northfield campus, and in my estimation, she has been the most skilled and respected faculty member in that role in the 12 years since that campus opened.   It is my overwhelming impression that her staff find her accessible, non-judgmental, and supportive.
I support her candidacy for this position, because I have closely observed both her high level of administrative skill and the depth of her knowledge of child development.   I believe that she is a highly skilled facilitator, and I think she would be a tremendous asset to the ETHS School Board

PEG is a religion

I don't know Savage-Williams and she may be a wonderful person with great administrative skills.  But let's be clear - the Pacific Education Group (or PEG) is driven by an ideology that goes againt the Evanston ethos.  And Savage-Williams is plainly a vigorous supporter of this ideology and, as such, is wrong for the board.
Like a fundamentalist religion, PEG is based on the belief that there's a basic "truth" that exists and those who question its existence are simply blind.  People are "true believers" based solely on faith and then order their lives around its teachings.  It is thus not possible to have a rational conversation about gay marriage with certain fundamentalists.  If you highlight data showing that being gay is not a "choice" and that gay marriage isn't harmful to the institution of marriage they simply retort -- "But God condemns it as evil."  God, as they say, is the ultimate trump. 
The same is true for PEG, which contends that "white privilege" is the primary cause of the achievement gap and that individual characteristics are defined by our race.  If you're white and question this unsupported premise then you're blind to your own white privilege.  And if you're black and disagree with PEG, then you've simply been coopted by white culture.  Either way, PEG knows "the truth" and anyone who disagrees is ignorant.  As her posts on the PEG website make clear, Savage-Williams is a PEG apostle who will likely ignore difficult questions and data on the achievement gap in favor of attacking "institutional racism" even though nobody is quite sure what that looks like, especially in Evanston where a large achievement gap exists after 8th grade even though there are no honors courses and all students are placed in racially diverse classrooms.      
Now is a good time to turn to the question of why people post anonymously.  The answer is simple - they don't want to be labeled a racist, which in Evanston is the worst thing imaginable.  Just go back and watch the video from the debate over freshman biology where Oscar Hawthorne and Martha Burns emphatically played the race card to stifle legitimate debate. 
 

PEG / Savage-Williams / New Trier

First. let me say - I know nothing  about Pat Savage-Williams.   I look forward to hearing from her at the upcoming forums.   I DO know a lot about PEG, Glenn Singleton and New Trier.   
I graduated from New Trier and I assure you their diversity issue are not the same as ours.   I was once at a benefit where a woman from Winnetka said that they were struggling to keep diversity in the New Trier School district - I asked her what she meant by diversity and she mentioned they were working hard to have some housing stock priced under $1,000,000.    Everyone defines diversity differently.   I tell that story to place into stark relief the difference in issues facing the two schools.    When PEG comes to New Trier, they are giving a workshop not transforming a culture.
I also know a TON about PEG.  I researched them online, studies agendas and speakers at their summits (many of whom are former clients) and spoke with reporters who had written about them.  
Just to make sure I was making a fully informed decision regarding PEG I attended an ETHS PEG Board Workshop.   I have minutes - which are long - and I'd be happy to share them if it would be helpful.   But there is no doubt that Glenn Singleton is promoting Critical Race Theory - which is indeed divisive.   There is also no doubt in my mind that Glenn Singleton at PEG is one of the greatest snake oil salesmen around.
Think AA meeting meets cult.  Mr. Singleton started out the meeting by having everyone testify to how they have witnessed their own inherant racism.   Everyone was required to speak.   Sort of like "my name is Jane, I am a racist,  my last racist incident was when I ......  I am white and have only reached the level of success I have today because of my race.  I have sinned and would like to make ammends"  something like that.
A number of Board members tried to direct the conversation more broadly - pointing out religious and gender based incidents of bias.   They were directed by Mr. Singleton to stay on race only.   One Board member mentioned that every day he woke up an African American and it wasn't always bad.   He suggested that making everything about race may not be productive.   He was told he had been co-opted by the white society in which he'd found success.  As such, he needed to go back as see that everything was indeed about race.  
Snake Oil:   Hire a company (PEG) to do a needs analysis to see if you need to hire the company (PEG) to do work in your school.   Any one who challenges the direction set by PEG is dismissed since they are clearly still so racist (regardless of their race) that they shouldn't even be listened to.   Set up a structure in the school where continued consultation and training is required.   Develop summits to provide financial benefits to some Superintendents  who hire him by giving them speaking engagements.  Blame any an all failure to improve achievement on the inability to persuade everyone that the only issue that needs to be addressed is race.   And if they weren't so darned racist - we could get something done.  Suggest more training by PEG. 
Any challenge to direction is racist.   Any questiion regarding results is racist.   Any desire to invest resources earlier in the process is racist.   ANY challenge or question is racist.   This is not a way to bring a community together.   This is a way to tear them apart.
The community conversations PEG leads are well intended exercises to draw everyone's attention to the different life experiences one has due soley to race.   While it's a  conversation that can be broadened to include gender, sexual preference and a whole host of ways we segmate and pre-judge people, PEG is focused only on race.  It's a worthwhile conversation to have.   It is not where the policy is being shaped - it's more of a marketing tool to create good will among the community.
Shaping policy in our community should not be done by ideologues.   PEG promotes an ideology.   We need open safe conversations which bring this community together - not  the devisive uncompromising  stance that Mr. Singleton takes....... all the way to the bank.
Jane

Truth about PEG

All that Ms. Berkley explains is true. I attended the training sessions provided by PEG to ETHS teachers. I disagree with PEG and am insulted by their assumptions of who I am and what I know. Board members who support PEG feel that the professional educators working with Evanston children need to be "fixed" and "developed furthered" by this "organization".
To Ms. Braun above, I do not sign my name because I do not want to lose my job, I need it. Perhaps we should demand total frankness from the candidates to the 202 Board (as opposed to veiled uncommitted responses to the their agreement with PEG teachings and the resulting curricular restructures that are implemented based on...PEG's ideas)?

PEG at the D202 board meeting

At last night's D202 Board meeting, Martha Burns complained that anonymous posters here are saying horrible things about PEG.  She questioned why other local groups that have hosted diversity discussions (such as the YMCA, YWCA and the Mayor) have not been so roundly criticized.
Time to face the facts, Ms. Burns.  This community has finally become aware of PEG's racist teachings.  People are fed up with having our tax money wasted to pay the snake oil salespeople at PEG.  Those local groups, to the best of my knowledge, don't categorize people based on their race only and peddle the nonsense that minority students fail to succeed only because their teachers are racists.  I could go on about just how horrible PEG is but other posters who have read the PEG materials and attended the PEG courses have already done that.
If you see this as saying horrible things about PEG, so be it.  PEG and what it teaches ARE horrible.  But Ms. Burns, you apparently don't see that and that is truly shocking.  I, for one, do not find it helpful or even acceptable to take students away from school for at least a day to have them labeled and put in racial "boxes" (including "Other" as a catch-all group) to be fed PEG's racist teachings that state that each individual and how he or she views the world is controlled solely by their race.  What rubbish!  And the labels that they ascribe to each race are truly insulting, especially to blacks.
Ms. Burns asserted that candidate Savage-Williams was being attacked in a "cowardly" fashion.  Again, time to face the facts, Ms. Burns.
Some of us saw what Ms. Savage-Williams posted on a public website about PEG, including that racism has kept her from succeeding (while another public website discloses that Ms. Savage-Williams earns more than $144,000 annually at New Trier High School).  We saw the PEG courses that she apparently attended out of state.  We saw what she wrote about institutional racism.  We asked Ms. Savage-Williams to answer questions about what SHE posted online.  She was asked for her position on PEG and its teachings.  Not surprisingly, Ms. Savage-Williams gave a brief response to only one comment but has not addressed the others, including her position on PEG and its teachings.
As voters, we have the right to ask candidates for information.  If Ms. Burns believes that it is cowardly to ask for information from a candidate for public office based on the candidate's own public statements, I suggest that Ms. Burns go back to high school and learn about how democracy works.
Ms. Burns also claimed that people on the D202 Board know who these anonymous posters are.  More facts for Ms. Burns:  no, they don't.  I am not a patsy or a plant for anyone.  I am a voter, a taxpayer and a parent.  I can read and observe facts, ask questions then act on the information that I have.  No one on the Board is directing what I think or write.  No one on the Board has asked me to post here.  Sorry to disappoint but there is no conspiracy involved here.
Next time that Ms. Burns is up for re-election, she had better be ready to defend PEG as she did this week.  If Ms. Burns chooses to seek reelection, I will do everything I can to see that she is defeated for failing to recognize what a bad decision it was to allow PEG's teachings to be implemented at ETHS.

For what it's worth . . .

I, too, am a voter, a taxpayer, and a parent . . . and a white one, at that.  I think this poster has misread PEG.  The country is racist.  It was founded on the doctrine of white supremacy.  The research I've done on PEG suggests that the organization is trying to open all of our eyes to that fact.  And it has helped me and mine to see that.