A Voter's Guide to D202 candidates

Early voting begins Monday in the city and school board elections, but the race that is most complex is the Evanston Township High School District 202 race, with eight candidates competing for four positions on the board.

The group includes four men, four women, two incumbents, an African-American, a Latino, lawyers, businessmen, a not-for-profit executive, and parents with considerable experience in Evanston youth organizations.
The voters’ job will be to eliminate four of these candidates from consideration and select four to join current board president Mark Metz and members R. Scott Rochelle and Jonathan Baum on the seven-member board.
Evanston Now asked each candidate to tell why they should be among the final four. From their responses, plus information supplied by their candidate websites, campaign literature, and public statements, here is why each contends they deserve your vote, listed in alphabetical order.
ELENA GARCIA ANSANI
An educational researcher and a parent of a seventh grader and a ninth grader,  Garcia Ansani says her work “requires me to study all the educational policies that are currently being proposed to understand the impact they will have at the federal, state, and local levels.”
This insight, she contends, “makes me a candidate that could contribute a wealth of information that would greatly benefit the ETHS community at large.”
The only Latino in the race, Garcia Ansani has served as a board member and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the McGaw YMCA and is also the community outreach liaison for the Evanston Coalition for Latino Resources Board of Directors. She says that her “guidance, encouragement, and commitment for promoting inclusiveness at all levels have made a positive impact within Evanston.”
ANDREW BEZAITIS
The son of Greek immigrants to Chicago, Bezaitis credits his ETHS education as “a transformative experience that launched me on a rewarding career path in engineering, business, and high-tech startups. “
Currently the chief operating officer of CellTrak Technologies, Inc., and the parent of three “ETHS-bound” students, Bezaitis holds electrical engineering degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and the Illinois Institute of Technology, as well as an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
Because each student is an individual, with his or her own set of strengths, weaknesses, interests, motivations, character, personal life, and ambitions, Bezaitis promises  to work “to ensure that all of our children have options to craft the academic experience that fits their needs.”
BILL GEIGER
As executive director of the McGaw YMCA for nearly 10 years, a former teacher at Haven Middle School, and an executive with Steelcase, Inc., Geiger feels he has “a particularly strong and broad set of non-profit leadership and for-profit business skills” that will enable him to “get things done” at ETHS.
“I also have a working knowledge of effective board governance,” he says, “and understand the role of a board and responsibilities of board members.”
A graduate of ETHS and Dartmouth College, Geiger noted that ETHS has been a transformative experience for many youth, and he says he “will work hard to see that it is transformative for all.”
DEBORAH GRAHAM
Running for her second term on the board, Graham has been persistent in recommending changes to the restructured humanities and biology courses at ETHS so that they are effective for all students. She feels that teachers should have been better trained in differentiated instruction before the changes occurred.
She advocates a return to the Combined Studies model that allows students to show what they’d learned in multiple and diverse ways. “Students could perform in skits, deliver presentations, and otherwise show off their interest and strengths,” she avers.
An ETHS graduate herself and parent of three ETHS-educated students, Graham is concerned that “too many students enter ETHS’s hall without knowing how to write with flair and grace.”
DOUG HOLT
A former Peace Corps volunteer and reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Holt is now director of corporate communications for the Northern Trust Company and the parent of two ETHS students and a sixth grader. He believes that ETHS “should stand as a national model of achievement for all students.”
Holt feels the parent perspective is important “because the school I hear described at the kitchen table is sometimes different than the one described at the board room table.”
A former member of the District 65 Ad Hoc Budget Committee, Holt says that in his career and volunteer activities, “I’ve learned to listen carefully, to have an open mind, to think independently, to ask good questions, and to work as part of a team to solve problems.”
GRETCHEN LIVINGSTON
An incumbent seeking her second term on the ETHS board, Livingston feels that her “record of strong and collaborative leadership on the board” distinguishes her from the other candidates and that she has demonstrated that leadership in three key areas: achieving excellence, building relationships, and preserving resources.
A former partner in a major Chicago law firm and a former board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Interfaith Housing Association of the North Shore, Livingston has served on virtually every committee of the District 202 Board.
In her second term, Livingston says she will urge improved data sharing and collaboration with District 65 as well as more business collaboration and also plans to “see out the evaluation that I brought in for the freshman year changes and the work on the district goals that include measurable targets resulting from my advocacy.”
CASEY MILLER
A former Congressional staff member who served as director of the Iran-Contra investigation and counsel to the Speaker of the House, Miller has also been involved in community activities as chairman of the city’s Ethics Board and president of the Evanston Baseball & Softball Association.
He could not have been successful in these positions, he said, “without the ability to listen carefully and understand, to bridge disagreements on complex issues, and to maintain civility even in difficult circumstances. I would bring those same qualities to my work on the 202 board.”
A graduate of Wabash College with a law degree from Indiana University, Miller advocates a greater collaboration with District 65 “to provide a seamless educational experience from kindergarten through 12th grade.”
PAT SAVAGE-WILLIAMS
Not only is she the only African-American candidate for the board, but Savage-Williams claims to be the “only candidate with direct experience working in a high school” as coordinator of special education at the Northfield campus of New Trier High School.
Formerly she was a school psychologist at District 65 for 25 years and is the mother of two recent ETHS graduates. Because of her background as both a parent and a school psychologist, she feels she understands “how students learn and what motivates adolescents.”
Savage-Williams says she believes that “every student has the right to an education that enhances individual strengths, improves weaknesses, and fosters confidence and self-esteem.”

Comments

Holt, Bezaitis, Livingston and Graham

I have given all candidates the beneifit of the doubt and listened to them at "meet and greets" and various forums.   I have reached the same conclusion as Eileen Budde, Richard Rykhus and Jonathan Baum.  Doug Holt, Andy Bezaitis, Gretchan Livingston and Debra Graham are the best candidates for balancing excellence and equity at ETHS.   It's a very delicate balance in a city like Evanston and, accordingly, must be addressed honestly and using all relevant data.  These four candidates have demonstrated that they have a firm understanding of the key issues and relevant evidence and will base their decisions on the evidence in order to provide the best possible education to each and every student.  

Thank You Evanston Now

Thank you Evanston Now for putting this compact overview of all the candidates!  I have been watching this election process very closely and have spoken with all the candidates throughout the season, and I just have to say how awesome this community is by having so many wonderful people to choose from and no matter who wins, Evanston will be for the better.
I am still undecided for three of four slots, but the one candidate that really stands out for me is Andrew Bezaitis.  The reasons are as follows:
1) He believes in teacher voice and since he has gone to many of the board meetings over that past 18 months, he felt that the teachers were not being heard.  He would want a way for teachers to have a voice that is unencumbered by an administration.  He pointed out that we all have the same goal of helping all of our evanston residents, so we should tap into that energy.
2) His background is in science.  None of the other candidates have a strong background in hard science like Andrew.  I think he could bring a strong voice to deal with the 21st century learning environment, be able to sift through all the information that is out there, and actively participate in the process for ETHS to do what is best for our children.
3) He listens to data as well as people.  I feel that all the other candidates fall into one of the two categories, but Andrew has said time and again, you must look at both in order to successfully analyze a situation.
4) He says the issues at ETHS don't only exist at ETHS, but in Evanston.  What I think he means by that is that the issues and challenges that face ETHS students don't just pop up in August of their freshman year.  So, ETHS needs to be proactive and work with District 65, parents, community leaders, Northwestern, Evanston government, etc... to get effective results from ETHS programs and policies.
5) He is an ETHS graduate.  To me that means a lot.  I have lived in this community for over 40 years and Evanston has issues that I believe are unique to this great town. So someone who grew up here I think would have a better understanding of those issues and challenges and help identify possible solutions to these complex issues in our community.
Those are just some of the reasons I believe in Andrew.  The other candidates all have their positives as well and that is why this election is going to be a tough choice.  While I don't now who those other three will be yet, I do know that Andrew is the best choice for ETHS.
I hope this thread provides constructive insight into the candidates and we all keep it positive and engaging.  Thanks for listening (reading) my point of view
Cheers!

D202 candidates

We feel it is necessary to stand up and speak our truth as the election for members of the school board of Evanston Township High School District 202 is rapidly approaching.
As long time Evanston/Skokie residents (Nancy 35+ years, David all of his life – 62 years) we are very concerned about the tenor of the conversation around the campaigns and the future composition and direction of the school board. We have never seen so much innuendo, falsehood, spinning of fact and disregard for truth in a local election.  While this has become more and more of the national norm, it is discouraging to see at this, or any level.
We have chosen to live here because of the diversity of the community.  We raised our family here, and our children went to District 65 schools and ETHS because of the richness of opportunity to interact with people who, while externally appearing different, all strove for the best and to be the best.
David works at ETHS, but that does not preclude him from acting as a concerned citizen when he is not at work.  These endorsements are our personal views and not coming from the voice of a district employee.
This election, in our minds, is a crossroads between continuing to move forward at ETHS and turning the clock backwards. We believe we need to continue forward. Nobel Economics Laureate, Joseph Stiglitz writes of the connection between education and ending inequality in our country.
The role of public schools is to provide access to opportunity for all students. ETHS has been working to support all students in gaining knowledge and skill through the most rigorous classes available.  The goal of supporting black and brown children to be as successful as white children is at the heart of the mission of ETHS.
ETHS has not ended honors classes. ETHS has not ended Advanced Placement classes. More students than ever are now taking these courses. More white students and more students of color are successfully sharing perspectives and viewpoints as they matriculate together. This has not raised class size or impacted our property taxes. It has made learning more of the center of the work at ETHS, not teaching.
The role of the board is to work with an administration and a superintendent towards carrying out a shared community vision. We believe that the vision of the Evanston/Skokie Community is one of equity and justice. We believe it is a vision of moving forward to support the learning of all students. We believe that it is a vision of a school that will close a racial achievement gap by supporting the high expectations and success of students of color as well as those of the historically high achieving white students.
To that end, we feel that four candidates will best work toward achieving that vision.  They are Elena Garcia Ansani, Bill Geiger, Casey Miller and Pat Savage Williams.
We will be voting for these four as people who will push ETHS to move forward. After listening to the candidates, and hearing the misinterpretations of some of their supporters, we feel we need to speak out and encourage our community to do the right thing and support progress at ETHS.
Early voting begins this week and the election is April 9. Join us in voting for Elena, Bill, Casey and Pat as we, together, stand up and move our community forward towards racial equity in education and away from inequality and injustice.
-- Nancy Liebman and David Futransky

Role of board of education

The role of the School Board is to hire the Superintendent, oversee the Superintendent, establish a vision and create a strategy and establish measurable goals to ensure success is achieved for all students.
The mission of ETHS is to achieve excellence and equity for all students. It is not just equity and justice as Mr. Futransky and his wife write. The community should also know that it was Mr. Futransky who was one of the primary reasons that the Pacific Education Group (PEG) was hired at ETHS. The ETHS community spent a lot of time and money on PEG, and what results were achieved? 
The achievement gap is an issue in Evanston, and across our country. We need to use evidence-based programs that have demonstrated results, not just chase the next new educational fad or excuse. 
If we are really going to help all students realize their potential we need to elect Andy Bezaitis, Doug Holt, Gretchen Livingston and Deborah Graham.
Andy Bezaitis is focused on results for all students. He knows that we must get to the "root cause" of the problem and develop programs that can demonstrate significant results. He will monitor, measure and evaluate, not just hope that ALL students are learning. He advocates for transparency and disclosure.
Doug Holt has a demonstrated track record of helping disadvantaged kids. His work in the Peace Corps and his volunteer work in Evanston are evidence of his commitment to providing resources that will enable all kids to succeed. He has consistently supported the ETHS System of Support and will work to improve these programs. Trained as a journalist, he has the ability to learn new issues and ask key questions that enhance the discussion, provide insight into the important points and lead to sound, fact based decisions.
Gretchen Livinston has proven herself in the four years she has served on the school board. She is prepared, engaged and has worked tirelessly to provide Excellence and Equity for all students. Gretchen was a key proponent of establishing measurable goals at ETHS. To her credit she took the initiative to bring David Figlio from Northwestern University to ETHS to evaluate the new programmatic changes to the Freshman Year. Thank you Gretchen - Re-elect her !
Deborah Graham has demonstrated her commitment to ETHS, Evanston and all students not only during her four years on the D202 Board, but also with her prior involvement with educational issues in the community.
She says what she thinks and is willing to have frank, and at times challenging conversations. She knows the task at hand is not easy, and she's willing to work hard to help all students succeed. Importantly, she has advocated for mentors for all students at ETHS, especially at risk students.
Who is looking out for these students? People say they are, but when a freshman walks into ETHS, there isn't a process in place to ensure that all students are on the path to achieve their potential. The current Guidance Counseling system doesn't provide this support, and Deborah understands this and won't accept the status quo.
Vote for Bezaitis, Holt, Livingston and Graham.
They will ensure, not just hope, that excellence and equity is realized by all students.

Really, Mr. Futransky, Really?

Mr. Futransky speaks of "so much innuendo, falsehood, spinning of fact and disregard for truth" in the current District 202 School Board election.
What a hypocrite. Mr. Futransky, you are contributing to these very issues you profess to disdain.
To suggest that your slate will, "move our community forward towards racial equity in education and away from inequality and injustice" is to suggest that the other 4 candidates are against these very issues.
I have attended several D202 election forums, read all candidate informational questionaires, talked with all candidates, and what i have found is that all 8 candidates care about Evanston and all kids in the community.
To suggest otherwise as you did is wrong and irresponsible.
One of the major differences is that some candidates will look at educational outcomes, look at the Achievement Gap, and will dig down into the core issues, identify what's causing the current situation, and expect the Administration to develop programs that actually help all students succeed. Some candidates will expect full transparency and disclosure from the Administration. Other candidates will demand that different options are presented to determine the best program, the program that is most likely going to ensure that students are successful. Some candidates will establish measurable goals. Other candidates will monitor and evaluate programs to make sure that they're actually working.
Some candidates will ask questions of the Administration. Other candidates will advocate for programs that enable all students to realize their potential.
There is a stark difference between the "means" of the eight candidates, but all eight candidates share a similar "ends" for ETHS students.
Voters will decide to support candidates who advocate for transparency, full disclosure, evidence based programs, monitoring and evaluating, or other candidates who hope all students will succeed.
Vote on April 9th

And guess who's job still focuses on the PEG message

The 202 Administration has told us its contract with PEG is at an end, and no more dollars are being spent on that program.  But David Futransky has the fulltime job of nurturing and implementing the PEG message...his salary is a continuing PEG program expenditure.  No wonder he's chosen the candidates who fully support PEG.  He's not interested in going back to the hard work of a classroom teacher.

How do I get that job full time at $196K annually?

I am very interested in helping ETHS students and their families so that all of our students can succeed.
How does one swing working as the Community Liaison for ETHS at a full-time salary of $196,000?  Plus benefits such as reduced price health insurance and a pension?
Is anyone else saying "wow" to the compensation that our current ETHS community liaison has for 50 percent work?  What benefit are our students getting?  What benefit are taxpayers getting for that kind of money?  How are results generated by this position determined?

I agree with Mr. Futransky's conclusions

I, too, have been to many forums and coffees as well as reading facebook pages, comments from supporters and the candidates themselves as well as public written responses to questions posed by various organizations.  If you do not draw the same conclusions as David and his wife, I think you need to do a little more research. 

Thank you

Thank you David and Nancy for your letter.  So many of the comments and "endosements" on this page are meaningless with out an actual person to stand behind them.  The endorsements from distict 65 board members give no explanation for their choices and from what I know of them, I don't think they even understand the issues facing 202.  I will join you in voting for Elena, Casey, Pat and Bill. 

Nobody's got the corner on equity

Much of what Ms. Liebman and Mr. Futransky say about the aspirations of the D202 community is unobjectionable.
But there are a couple of really wrong notes. The first is that they say "the vision of the Evanston/Skokie community is one of equity and justice."
Well, yes, of course, equity and justice are part of the vision.  But District 202's vision statement is called "Equity and Excellence Statement."  Ms. Liebman and Ms. Futransky seemed to have missed that second part.
Also, they say that voters should select their chosen candidates for the 202 Board in order to "stand up and move our community forward towards racial equity in education and away from inequality and injustice."
How unfair, misleading, and downright insulting to suggest that the candidates Ms. Liebman and Mr. Futransky do not support -- Bezaitis, Graham, Holt, and Livingston -- do not support racial equity and moving us away from inequality and injustice!
And Liebman and Futransky claim to be concerned about the "tenor of the conversation around the campaigns"?

What is excellence?

Excellence has been something many students at ETHS have experienced throughout the years.  It is time for all students to take part in the excellent education district 202 has to offer. 
No one is suggesting we stop offering AP and advanced classes at the high school.  Why is Earned Honors, more students access to a better curriculm, so threatening to you and your candidates?  While the numbers are not in yet, we HAVE seen an increase in AP class participation across the board.  Shouldn't this be the goal for our community?  Don't you want excellence for all?  High school matters not just for YOUR kid, but for all.

AP Enrollment does not necessarily equal excellence

Here is the simple truth that one's research via candidate forums will not reveal:  Students who earn C's and D's in high school classes, AP level or not, are not deemed excellent students by college admissions committees at better schools and universities.  Here is what my research has revealed to me in my role as a teacher of high school seniors:  it is heartbreaking to watch good students rejected over and over again by top schools because their counselors have encouraged them to "reach for excellence" and "try AP."   Regardless of what some of these candidates have been told, our community does not exist outside of the real world.  Grades matter--college matters--and the kids are the ones who pay the price in the end when admissions committees can't see beyond the 'C' or 'D' that the student earned in the AP classes they were pressured to take.  And here is something else you won't hear about at a candidate forum: the emotional fall-out of taking too many AP classes at a time.  An excellent student isn't just a high-achieving student, but a socially and emotionally intact student.  I have heard that even at Lake Forest and New Trier students aren't pressured to take so many AP classes.  
 Here is what I have determined from my hands-on research:  I will be voting for the candidates who will bring a combination of reason, compassion, and common sense back to ETHS:  Gretchen Livingston, Andy Bezaitis, Doug Holt and-- my vote is still out on the fourth candidate.  And before all the other liberal anonymi gang up on me and call me a conservative pinhead:   I am a supporter of the Earned Honors Credit model as long as the bar is set at that honors level and the standards of classes do not change.  Gretchen Livingston, Andy Bezaitis, Doug Holt-- good luck to all of you.  Fellow Evanston Now posters, I am open to suggestions for my fourth vote.  

Honors or not

If you truly believe that students in non-honors courses have been excluded from an "excellent" education, then you should be calling for Dr. Witherspoon's head.  In essence, you're saying that the administration has shown a complete inability to put together a non-honors curriculum for freshman that helps elevate higher-performing students to honors and AP courses, which is a really sad comment.  But, of course, you're simply saying that an honors curriculum is "better" and everyone should thus be funneled into those classes.  What's so difficult about teaching a rigorous curriculum in non-honors courses that raises the bar, increases confidence, and focuses on these students specific needs?   Alternatively, why not let all students enroll in freshman honors courses with zero barriers to entry (an approach the administration has rejected)?
Frankly, I don't object to this approach for humanities freshman year but I don't see the point of calling it "honors."  The bigger issue -- the elephant in the living room if you will -- is whether the administration wants to maintain straight honors courses in grades 10-12.  I think they do not, and instead want to use earned honors as a model for all courses except for AP.  That is entirely unacceptable.

Exactly why

See, this is exactly why we SHOULD not elect these people as supported by Futransky and Liebman.
Because it is about race. 
Because it is about PEG.
And teaching Critical Race Theory.
And terms like White Privelege, etc.
And more importantly, instead of closing gaps and creating equality and equity, PEG and Critical Race Theory seek to divide and castigate; blame and demonize.  Use race to combat race? 
ENOUGH!
We need no more of this.
We need leaders who analyze the problem and address them logically and who work for the best interest of ALL. 
Not pigeons who fall back on race, as usual, as the root cause of everything, then seek to use RACE again as a method to "have a difficult conversation" by blaming white privelege, another group, etc. 
Toxic.  That is what these candidates are and their supporters.  They will not get my vote.  Mr. Futransky and Ms. Libman, your comments I think hurt your choices, not helped. 
Thank you.

I don't know from PEG

But what I know is that my high SES white child (ETHS '07) was ill-served by a school that had a narrow definition of success.  An average child was diminished by the ETHS system..

I don't know if the status quo is best, but I at least want board members who question the status quo. 
So I am with Ansara Garcia, Geiger, Miller, and Savage-Williams

I Know I am a little late on

I Know I am a little late on this but if you want a Board Member to question the Status Quo these are the incorrect candidates to vote for.  THe other four encourage change while these four just think it should be left the same.  I believe you need to go over your facts.  I am a student at ETHS and these are who I am voting for.  I hope that when looking back at ETHS that it improves.

My truth -- it's oh so Evanston of you

Mr. Furtansky,
Here's my truth. I am weary of the same tired old arguments used repeatedly in Evanston to justify costly, knee jerk "solutions" unsupported by data or common sense with those “solutions” dividing people of good will.
Here's how those arguments go:
1. I have lived in Evanston a long time (my whole life is the most powerful argument!).   Given that, I know how things run around here and I will tell you what’s best for you mopes who foolishly lived somewhere else before coming here.
My response: someone who moved here last week has just as much right to have opinions on issues facing our community as life-long residents.  Every resident, no matter what age or length of time living here, has the right to call out nonsense and here is that call out from me.
Labeling individuals based on their race only and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars to hucksters is nonsense and should never have happened. We all need to move beyond such simplistic and divisive gimmicks.
And, by the way, newcomers, been here a few years residents and those who have lived here less than 30+ years have likely lived lives filed with experiences that could help those who have chosen to remain in Evanston for decades – even their entire lives.  The world is full of good ideas and not all of them originated in Evanston.  So stop relying on living here your whole life as the primary reason that everyone should listen to you.
2. I am on the side of equity and caring about people.
My response: as others have noted, no one in this city has the monopoly of wanting equity and being caring.  Look at all of the D202 candidates.  They profess to care about students, families and maybe even taxpayers. I am confident that each of them believes that they do care. But some of them are misguided, like you, in believing in the nonsense pitched by Pacific Education Group and expecting others to buy in to those teachings like good Evanstonians.
Under PEG's teachings, students don't succeed because their teachers are racists. And PEG also teaches that all white students succeed only because of white privilege. 
As a teacher, I would think that you would see such a blanket statement as total and complete rot. For those racist teachers who do exist at ETHS, I trust that ETHS can look at data and conduct interviews with former students to identify them and promptly fire them.
I am on the side of using taxpayer money wisely to educate all students at ETHS to each student’s potential. But I also see the biggest problem out there -- far too many students enter 9th grade far behind their classmates and not ready to learn and advance at a high level. So what do we do? How about that we, as a community, insist that D65 send more students ready to learn, rather than wasting money on hack consultants to preach racist teachings and drastically changing 9th grade course options?  Early and intense intervention with every child not reading at grade level by the end of first grade is a first step.  That's showing equity and concern.  
3. Anyone who argues against my point of view is a racist who is too racist to know that they are a racist.
My response: spoken like a true Evanston.  Far too often, this is the drumbeat in Evanston and again, it is divisive and prevents intelligent discussion of issues from progressing.  But that’s probably the point.  Divide and conquer must be the thinking.  I have seen it happen on virtually every issue in Evanston.  Oppose an expensive new D65 school when enrollment has dropped in the past 10 years and our finances are already strained?  You are a racist.  Speak out about others viewing Howard Street as unsafe?  You are a racist.  Question the wisdom of hiring PEG?  You are a racist.  It's becoming very predictable as the conversation stopper here.
And it’s PEG’s way of thinking, too.  Problem with achievement by minority students? Hire PEG. Problems aren't fixed? Here’s why:  racists refuse to admit their racism so more training by PEG is needed. Hire PEG. All answers come from PEG (with a high price tag), don't you know, Mr. Furtansky? Bunk. Total and absolute bunk.
We in Evanston need to stop thinking that a foundation of poor results at D65 will lead to 9th graders who are ready to learn at high levels.  We also need to abandon PEG-founded baseless race categorizations as the “solution” to address those problems when our students get to ETHS. 
Mr. Furtansky, the world has moved on.  The old solutions of slapping race-based labels on groups of people didn’t work in the 20th century and it certainly doesn’t work now.  I want to elect people who will use data-based information and common sense to make sound decisions that focus on how to get all students to their highest potential. 
Based on my extensive review of candidate information and attendance at candidate events, I see Bezaitis, Graham, Holt and Livingston as leading ETHS in a direction that will leave the knee jerk reactions and name calling behind.  Instead, I look forward to a day when these four Board members are making reasoned decisions based on facts to benefit all ETHS students, ETHS as a school and Evanston as a community.

Lack of candor in endorsements

Mr. Futransky,
First, my apologies for the misspelling of your last name in my earlier post. But I think that you owed everyone in this community more candor about your role in bringing PEG to this community and why you still support PEG teachings now.
From my research on the internet (primarily newspaper articles and ETHS-related postings), you were a driving force behind bringing PEG to ETHS in 2009 when you were ETHS Teachers' Council President.
ETHS hired PEG to conduct a needs assessment. Then surprise! PEG's needs assessment recommended that ETHS needed the services that PEG provides to fix the issues that PEG identified.
Then things got truly ridiculous. ETHS hired the same company that did the needs assessment (PEG) to provide the services identified in the needs assessment. The first rule of using a consultant to identify issues and possible solutions is to tell the consultant that it will NOT be hired to provide the solutions that the consultant recommends and then stand by that statement. When businesses and organizations don't follow that rule, the consultant can easily manipulate the needs assessment to identify its own services as filling the identified needs. Talk about a blunder from the start.
PEG recommended creation of an equity position and surprise! You were named the ETHS equity coordinator.
And now, should anyone be surprised to learn that you want to perpetuate the short sighted policies based on PEG teachings by voting for those who back the teachings of PEG as you do?  Given your past direct involvement and your current job at the school, I question the statement that "[t]hese endorsements are our personal views and not coming from the voice of a district employee."
Let's look back to January, 2009 when the ETHS superintendent told ETHS' PTSA (with you listed as a speaker at the same meeting) that one in seven students comes to ETHS needing "remedial instruction" and many more arrive at ETHS unprepared for high school in other ways that make it difficult to succeed there:
"According to Dr. Witherspoon, one out of seven students comes to ETHS in need of remedial instruction. Apart from this, many students arrive at ETHS without being prepared for high school in other ways and have difficulty making the transition or getting into a mind-set (motivation, caring and commitment, work ethic and personal responsibility, understanding the stakes of high school and how it will affect their futures) that will enable them to succeed at high school, to make the most of their high school experience, and to maximize their post-secondary school options."
https://sites.google.com/site/ethsptsa/announcements/ptsameeting-january15
I'd like to know what ETHS has done under your leadership in the area of equity in the last four years to address this problem identified by the Superintendent.
Have you worked with D65 to offer educational sessions for 5th graders and middle school students and their parents/other involved adults about the high school experience? Have you considered establishing high school role models for disadvantaged students who can model successful behaviors for these younger students? Have you identified concrete actions (classes, programs, books, etc.) for those students and families to participate in or consult BEFORE 8th grade to increase the likelihood of success in high school?
Your title is now ETHS Community Liaison. Where is the community outreach on this issue? Have you advocated to the community that D65 needs to work with D202 to address this fundamental issue to provide equity for all students? I have found references to school-based meetings to discuss the issue but how about some public advocacy for change on this crucial matter?
You, in your role at ETHS, must encourage and promote a broad-ranging and inclusive approach to our community for equity and caring. PEG wasn't it. PEG, with its narrow and divisive dogma, was and is a failure. All students at ETHS need to be understood and included in ETHS' plans for the future. Our community needs to be united, not divided.
We devoted considerable financial resources to pump out PEG's flawed teachings. Why not devote considerable effort to address the problem that we know exists (and identified by the ETHS superintendent four years ago) -- students who come to ETHS unprepared to succeed there? If efforts have been made to address this problem before the students arrive at ETHS, I would love to hear about them.

Quick Question

Thank you for providing even more information on Mr. Futransky's relationship with PEG, which appears to be deep.
I guess I have one quick question for Mr. Futransky in light of these developments and his role with bringing PEG to Evanston.
Have you been financially compensated by PEG in any way at anytime?
Thank you.

Thank You for Reminder

Mr. Futransky,
I oppose PEG at every level.
I had some question on who to vote for D202 Board.
All I had to do was pull up your post supporting your candidates, the ones I will NOT be voting for.
So thanks for the reference.

Andy Bezaitis for 202 School Board

I am writing to recommend Andy Bezaitis.
High school matters, say Andy's campaign materials for his 202 race. Andy elucidates well his philosophy and strategies about how and why.
He graduated from ETHS and thanks his Greek immigrant parents for searching out an excellent education for him and his sister. He wants the same for his children. He is very intelligent with a broad perspective, educating himself about the high school of today, by talking to administrators, teachers, parents, students and citizens.
He has attended board meetings and understands the value of coming together collaboratively. He knows that budgeting will be a high priority and that we need to prioritize program and need board members with such decision making skills and experience. Andy"gets it" and I highly recommend him to serve on the 202 Board.
-- Carol Mullins, Former 202 Board member

Bill Geiger for School Board

I write in support of Bill Geiger’s candidacy for the district 202 school board.  When Bill asked me if I would help out with his campaign, I jumped at the chance.  I have known Bill for 40 years and recognize that his passion is developing youth—as a camp counselor, as a school teacher,  and as the CEO of the thriving,  12,000+ member McGaw YMCA. 

Bill demonstrates unique talents in creating vision, planning strategy, and developing policy at the Y and in collaboration with many organizations across Evanston.  He is a great leader who inspires people to be their best.  
ETHS needs Bill Geiger.
Chuck Heisinger
Treasurer, Citizens for Bill Geiger

ETHS board election

I submit the following from my point of view as an ETHS teacher.
1) someone above complained about anonymous comments. If you are a teacher at ETHS and have witnessed the retribution capable of our administration as well as the palpable decline of our union's effectiveness, then you would understand we have no choice. We cannot speak our minds otherwise.
2) PEG has been incredibly divisive as well as ineffective in bringing about positive outcomes for students and others within the school. The company is run by people without credentials, they have an extremely poor product to sell, and I would call them charletans if it were not for their marketing prowess. There is no teacher at ETHS who will tell you that we had any say in the hiring of PEG, since we did not. Futransky came up with PEG and the admin went along with it for reasons they are not divulging, and Futransky seems to have a sinecure for life. Better than tenure!
3) Too many board hopefuls talk about "data driven" decision making, or "scientifically based" decision making. It is the buzz phrase du jour. The problem with it is that educational research is an extremely soft science. A scientist looking at your average education journal would cringe at the too often poor experimental design, the too often inabiltiy to handle vast amounts of variables, the too often misunderstanding of how to validly analyze the data. The educational literature is filled with contradictory conclusions. However if you look at the hard science of brain development, brain anatomy, and brain chemistry, you would understand that a significant chunk (1/7th according to Witherspoon as someone said above) of our students have reached high school with their cognitive potential dimished in various ways by their environments, and by diminished I mean altered (diverted, detoured, whatever) brain anatomy and chemistry. To say that we can close the achievement gap by being better teachers, by eliminating racism, and altering the ETHS culture, is a fantasy. These are all worthy goals, but they will not replace lost neurons. The adolscent brain is still wonderfully plastic, and we need to nurture and take advantage of that plasticity, by all means, but we cannot change a diminished plasticity. It is incumbant upon the school, upon D65, upon the Evanston community, and (if I really want to be unrealistic) our society at large to address these issues. The ramifications of poverty loom large at our school, and there is not one administrator who will admit to it and try, in whatever various and sundry ways they can dream up, in some way to reach out to the community outside our four walls. This is not a problem that can be fully addressed inside our walls. D65, the Evanston community, the school boards, the Evanston government, and any interested NU (and other) academics need to begin in some way to collaboratively act on these issues prenatally. To act on them after 14 years is a battle that ETHS has seen time and again over the last 40 years cannot be fought within our walls. There have been SO MANY programs inside the school to address these issues, and they do not close the achievement gap. They do little, and eventually the programs go away, to be replaced by some other ineffectual and expensive program.
4) So we need a school board who will somehow be able to redirect the administration's penchant for operating with blinders on to instead reach out to the community to attempt to address root causes. Although I do not have much confidence that any of them will be able to do that, I am going to vote for Bazaitus, Livingston, Graham, and the fourth is undecided.

Well put

I encourage you to cast your fourth vote for Doug Holt.

Support Bezaitis, Graham, Holt and Livingston

I have followed the issues in District 202 for many years. My three children attended the school (one currently), I have been a PTSA board member and listserve moderator, and I am currently a Parent Ambassador and member of the School Improvement Team. I read board packets and watch board meetings. In addition, I have attended candidate forums, watched video clips and read questionnaires and candidate websites.
I encourage you to support four candidates for D202 school board: Andy Bezaitis, Deborah Graham, Doug Holt and Gretchen Livingston
I believe these four candidates have the qualities needed for the school board. They recognize that decision-making requires listening to all the stakeholders, looking at all the facts, and weighing all the options. They are committed to transparency in how the board conducts business, and to ensuring accountability by evaluating performance against clear, specific and measurable metrics.
These candidates have the background and experience that will make them successful board members. You can read their questionnaires, find links to all the candidate websites and videos of candidate forums on the PTA Council's School Board Election page:
http://ptacouncil.org/2013-school-board-elections

Vote

Change is important in organizations to allow members to learn new skills, explore new opportunities and exercise their creativity in ways that ultimately benefit the organization through new ideas and increased commitment.
As we enter another election year you may be asking yourself, why vote? Latinos are the fastest growing group in the US; we have the power to shape a new America. 1 of 6 Americans are now Latino and it won't be long before we're the majority in many states.
Collectively, we can demand solutions to our toughest problems .The School Board needs to change we need a representative that will voice our problems and find solutions. We are not invisible we have a voice. My vote is for change. Vote Elena Garcia Ansani for D202 School Board.

These ARE individual races, yes?

Could someone explain to me why there is such a stark divide among the 8 candidates? Nowhere have I heard anyone promote them other than as a strict gang of four: Graham/Livingston/Bezaitis/Holt vs. Ansani/Savage-Williams/Geiger/Miller.
What is REALLY going on here?

You need to do your research

You need to look just a little deeper.  You are wrong.  There are  many postings for other combinations-also drive around town-look at lawn signs-open your eyes!

Research

Thank you for your reply.  I posted my question because my research led me to the conclusion I reached.  Where (in print/online) are you seeing other endorsement combos?  As far as yard signs--the only place I've seen cross-pollination of candidates has been on vacant land.
Using my actual name, BTW.
Jason

Jason, this is what's going on...

Jason,
You raise an excellent point. There are 8 candidates running for 4 positions. Each as individuals.
However, you have a senior administrator at ETHS, David Futransky, who is publicly campaigning for a slate of candidates. Look at the article he wrote and published in the Evanston Patch and Evanston Sentinel. The Evanston RoundTable would not publish his article.
Some people have questioned the ethics of an employee at ETHS advocating for a group of candidates. Mr. Futransky is paid by Evanston taxpayers and indirectly works for the School Board. The Board of course only hires and oversees the Superintendent, and is not responsible for the day to day management of ETHS. It may not be unethical, but it does seem highly inappropriate for an employee of ETHS to actively campaign.
Mr. Futransky's article also strongly implies in the last paragraph of his article that the other 4 candidates that he's not endorsing are in favor of inequality and injustice. I know Andy Bezaitis well, and can say unequivically, that he cares about all kids and wants everyone to have an opportunity for a great education like he received at ETHS. I don't know the other candidates well enough to vouch for them.
So, Mr. Futransky has split the 8 candidates into 2 camps.
That's what's going on.
You are very observant.
TP
 

Savage-Williams' picks

Hi Jason,
Pat Savage-Williams sent out a flyer to her email list identifying three other candidates with whom she would like to see elected. See text below.
"I have been asked by a number of supporters which other candidates I would like to serve with on the School Board if I am elected. The other candidates I would like to see elected are
Bill Geiger, Casey Miller and Elena Garcia Ansani"
 
I have not seen anything written by Livingston, Bezaitis, Holt or Graham supporting each other or other candidates. 
 

Today @ 4pm meet D202 Candidates-

Today (Friday April 5th) at 4 pm Three Crowns Park is hosting a candidate forum for all 8 candidates.
The public is invited to attend.
Address is 2323 McDaniel Avenue - (Colfax & Grant Street, near Lincolnwood Elementary School)
This is the last candidate forum for D202 (ETHS) Candidates
 

ETHS

I hope the new Board sets up a process to re-evaluate the teachers (especially tenured teachers) that cry,whine and/or justify the injustice of the current gap in learning at ETHS.
I've sat at Board Meetings with teachers in attendance speaking against steps being made for progress for "all" students and reading posts and hearing educators opposing educating all students only justifies the current opposition and negative feelings people have about teachers.
A true, "good" educator doesn't make excuses, but reaches, teaches and wants all students access to the same opportunities and will step up to the plate and not justify injustice. Remove all teachers who don't embrace all students!

Evidence of earned honors support/opposition?

Is there any evidence that the D202 candidates who haven't been packaged as "supporting equity" are actually AGAINST the earned honors program? I listened to the candidate's forum and read all the websites - I am not seeing it.
I posed this question elsewhere, and the only response that made sense to me is that some of the candidates want to expand the program before the study evaluating it is completed, and others want to wait to see the results of the study before deciding to expand.  

There does not appear to be a lack of support for the earned honors program from any candidate, and all candidates appear to be equally concerned about improving equity at ETHS. I am curious if anyone has any concrete information.  I feel that election materials have created a divide that does not actually exist, and have clouded the issues on this election.

Evidence necessary or not is the question.

The planned expansion of the earned honors program has been on hold pending the outcome of the election. 
The  expansion will go swiftly if evidence of success is not needed.
According to the administration, failure cannot be determined for at least 7 years, so it 's a success until proven otherwise.
I suspect that the outcome will be that there will be a net reduction of honors credit, and an increase in the number of D's and F's once the spotlight dims. The net racial/social gap will be expanded, and earned honors will become an example of racism in our schools.
Wanting to do good is not enough. Change for the sake of change is not a good plan. Telling teachers that there are too many D's and F's... then counting the change in grades as a success is not progress.

No evidence-Futransky & campaigns create divide

Michele,
You are correct, there is no evidence. From the 2 candidate forums I attended and the follow up conversations I had with Ms. Livingston, Ms. Williams, Mr. Miller and Mr. Bezaitis, it's clear that all the candidates support equity and all candidates support the current  earned honors program.
It's also clear that 4 candidates want to make sure the current program is working - are all kids benefiting from this restructuring? Are the teachers trained and able to execute upon differentiated instruction? (easy in concept, but difficult to do in the classroom) Are students demonstrating academic achievement or is this just the latest educational reform that will be scrapped in a couple of years? We don't know but we can hope.
There are 4 candidates who want to pursue hope as a strategy, and there are others who will question the administration to make sure that the programs are effective, and all students don't waste there time at ETHS.
The divide has been created and perpetuated by Mr. Futransky who is advancing his own self interest and employment at ETHS. His is publicly supporting and campaigning for "his 4 candidates" and suggesting that if you are not with him, you're against him and you support inequality and injustice. Read his article, especially the last paragraph.
In addition, campaign literature distributed by unknown groups promoting a slate of candidates suggests that the only way equity will be achieved is if you vote for those 4 candidates.
I wish educating all of our youth could be so easy
TP