Andy Bezaitis launched his campaign for the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board Wednesday night by emphasizing his experience working with boards to set goals and manage change.

The chief operating officer of Schaumburg-based CellTrak Technologies Inc., Bezaitis  has a BS in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, an MS in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

He told supporters at his campaign kickoff at the Boocoo Cultural Center, located a half-block from the high school, that he hopes to help the board develop a culture of innovation and change at ETHS by achieving its goals “in a strategic, dynamic, and open and transparent manner.”

On his website, he lists four priorities for the board:

“To engage, challenge, and inspire all students;

“To identify and implement innovative ideas, measure success, and continuously improve;

“To foster a culture of partnerships, excellence, and innovation;

“And to support fiscally sound decision-making.”

Bezaitis is an ETHS graduate and spent his earlier years at Chute Middle School and the former Timber Ridge Elementary School. He and his wife, Jennifer, are parents of three “ETHS-bound” children, who have attended Lincoln, Dewey, and Nichols schools in District 65.

He said the campaign “has been an amazing educational experience for me” and asserted that “transparency is a major issue.”

There are eight candidates battling for four spots on the seven-member board in the election that will be held on April 9.

Top: A young volunteer helps prepare signs for distribution at Bezaitis campaign kickoff.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

Join the Conversation


  1. Candidate Bezaitis — do you support more $$$ paid to PEG?

    I understand that there is already a contract in place between D202 and PEG.

    I would like Candidate Bezaitis to answer this question:  if elected, would you support using PEG to consult with and provide any services to D202 beyond what is already required under any current contract?

    1. Focus on PEG indoctrination, not just contracts

      This PEG issue is about more than just dollars and cents.   ETHS has probably given PEG most of the money it's going to give directly.  The bigger issue is the indoctrination of ETHS teachers, and through them, our children, in the PEG ideology.  Hundreds of hours of teacher time (not measured by PEG contracts) go into PEG indoctrination, and you'd be amazed (ask your kids) how much student time is being spent on PEG-inspired activities.  So 202 Board candidates shouldn't just be asked if they'll vote for money for PEG.  They should be asked if they buy into the "white privilege," "focus on race," etc., thinking that PEG has brought into the district.  Do they really believe, as PEG proclaims, that "institutionalized racism" is the principal cause of the achievement gap in our schools? 

  2. What PEG is teaching

    What is Bezaitis opinion on PEG?

    This is a power point that PEG conducted at a school in Minnesota-

    PEG blames race as the reason why there is an achievement gap. This is simply not accurate. The most recognized study on the acheivement gap was conducted by Hart and Risley in 1995. They found three things:

    1. The variation in children’s IQs and language abilities is relative to the amount parents speak to their children.
    2. Children’s academic successes at ages nine and ten are attributable to the amount of talk they hear from birth to age three.
    3. Parents of advanced children talk significantly more to their children than parents of children who are not as advanced. Children from poverty (as defined by homes where a parent receives welfare) hear approximately 30 MILLION fewer words than a child from a family where the mother went to college. There is a simliar gap between working families and college educated families.

         The results from this Hart and Risley study went to fuel early education programs such as Head Start. Unfortunately, Head Start teachers were not required to be college educated, and the pay was terrible. Thus, the program could not attract enough high quality professionals to reverse the trend.

    If Evanston wants to get serious about fixing the education gap, we should be looking at early intevention programs for young children from low income homes. Early intervention services also make good economic sense. James Heckman, an economist from the University of Chicago, has spent his career studying the achievement gap and economics. He has proven that early education investments not only make economic sense, but are the most viable way to close the gap. Here is a brochure on his work:

    Eliminating honors because not enough children of color sit in the classes and bringing in consultants who blame race is not the way to improve education for anyone. To me, it is the subtle racism of lowered expectations.

    If Evanston wants to look at a model of improving the acheivement gap- Look to the work of Geoffrey Canada at the Harlem Children's Zone. He starts from birth with "baby college." His program takes NO EXCUSES of why children can't learn. His program has an unbelievable success rate of taking children from the poorest parts of Harlem to college.

    1. Transparency is not misrepresentation

      Being transparent is not a strong suit in D202. At a recent meeting, the current board almost found out the administration's plan to fully implement the earned honors to every possible class, every year, not just sophomore year.

      This plan is on hold until a new board is elected.

      How does Mr. Bezaitis feel about such a plan, and the current policy of misrepresentation?

    2. Amen, and keep the money to educate our students

      Amen, Jen.

      That $300,000 handed to PEG to peddle its racist nonsense could have provided early childhood intervention for dozens and dozens of children in Evanston. If D202 doesn't like the skin tone of the children who are in honors classes, what are D65 and D202 doing to improve the education of those children?

      Here's the pathetic answer: hiring a consultant that relies on racist stereotypes. Who thinks that will help these children achieving at grade level or above by ninth grade? Why are the candidates so quiet on their positions on PEG? Certainly, they see or someone they know sees these postings.

  3. Education—then and now

    The comment was made: "If Evanston wants to get serious about fixing the education gap, we should be looking at early intervention programs for young children from low income homes. Early intervention services also make good economic sense."

    This probably makes sense and rings true to parents. However people 60+ who did not have children may accept this [early education] as good and proper but they also look at their education and what their and prior generations found. They may unquestionably politically and financially support such programs.

    My generation learned to count to 100 in 1st grade and to 'start' learning to read in 2nd grade. Phonics were taught in 3rd grade. However we 'caught-up' with today's students by in the same grades—by seventh if not before. We had four years required of math, history, literature, etc.. We also had French, German, Latin–at least one year of each. Physics, chemistry and biology [ugh] were also required.

    Many would feel that our high school education was superior to today's student and our college education was much more serious and the fluff courses of today's [even elite] colleges were not dreamed of. Yes, today's students know 'about' things my generation did not. But bring Newton or probably Einstein in today's world and they would marvel—Newton especially—for about 10 minutes, then he would catch up [to say the least] very quickly. The generation now 60+ was much the same—we caught-up in a few years despite not reading before 2nd grade. We thus feel we match in 'absolute' terms and are puzzled by the early education movement.

    If you want to see this, read some books about mathematicians [male and female] who had culture that all but making their formal education possible; or a Japanese child who was raised tending rice fields but taught himself and got all the help he could and came to lecture in French, German and English at important conferences.

    Yes it is great to have better educated students early—if indeed what they are getting is really 'learning.' Probably the real benefit and reason is 'relative'—i.e. middle/upper class students will/would get this from parents so it is probably the most beneficial to low income families so their children will not fall behind and not be able to catch up. I don't think these issues are being talked about and without people without children, financial conditions in schools and the states [esp. Illinois] may make support more difficult.

    1. Role of early childhood

      WHen I say "early education" I do not mean learning numbers, letters, or phonics. Yes, these are important skills, but you are correct in saying that they are not the most important things to pre-school children and younger.

        Adjusted for cost of living, AMerica was a wealthier country in the 1940s-50s, and one parent was often able to stay home to raise children.   This is no longer the case, especially for children who come from poverty as moms and dads alike often need to work one or two jobs to pay the bills.   Couple this financial stress with the increased rate of broken homes, and you have an enormous amount of stress placed upon modern families, particularly low income families who have seen divorce rates increase exponentially faster than families of college educated families.  If parents are not good at managing this stress and let their children feel it, it affects brain development of children. An amazing book called "How CHildren Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the HIdden Power of Character" gives some pretty convincing neurological research evidence of this.

      How can early childhood education help this?

      1. Parent support networks-  Parents in low income homes often lack the family support system of wealthier families, partly due to the increased time they need to spend working.    Religious organizations used to provide this type of support network, but active participation has declined across all socioeconomic groups.   The best early chilldhood programs build a community of learners- for kids and parents.  Social workers and family counselors help families connect with resources to manage stress.  They also teach parents about the importance of keeping the stress from the children- As children can grow up to be successful, even under the most extreme cases of hardship, if the mother (and father, but research is showing more the mother) is able to make the child feel secure and relatively worry-free.

      2.  Teach parents how to talk to their kids- Research indicates that parents from low income homes speak to their children less and differently. Whereas college educated mothers will go about describing everything and anything, talking to their children about the world,  mothers in poverty often use language primarily as a tool for discipline.    Try being exhausted after working all day and coming home to an energetic toddler. Do you blame them?  I don't.  Being a mom is hard work, and if you've used all your energy trying to pay the bills, you're tired.    Regardless, early education needs to provide the hope and support to make parents give 150%, and to learn different ways of engaging with their children that they may not have seen modelled themselves as child. Rich and diverse language becomes the backbone to reading, math, and executive function success.  IF you don't have words, you can't think.

      3. Play-  PLay is the best way to build cognitive skills in children.  CHildren from low income homes have less exposure to a wide range of play schemes and life experiences.  Children living in poverty don't get to visit as many places to build a conceptual framework of the world. .  Early childhood education exposes children to the world through books, toys, and play.  This gives children background knowledge so that when they go to older grades, information makes sense.   You learn by making connections to things you already know, and if you have limited life experiences, you will have a harder time processing new information.

      PUtting money into this type of programming pays off.  When children enter older grades, they will be referred less for special education services, which are costly. They will be less likely to have behavior difficulties, requiring specialized help and potential out-placement of schooling.  And if children are successful at school, they are less likely to drop out of high school- 75% of crime being committed by high school drop-outs. It costs roughly $31,000 to incarcerate a person for a year, and roughly $7,000 to educate a young child- not to mention that productive society members are far better than prisoners. 

      I agree that the state of Illinois is in a mess, and probably can not pay for these services right now.  But Evanston children would be better served if that $300,000 that went to PEG went towards creating several early childhood classrooms. 


    2. Reply to Education —then and now

      I am one of those 60+ people whose education did not resemble that described above. I grew up in a blue collar suburb of a city in New York State. At that time children with learning disabilities did not receive support and the term "retarded" was in use. Mothers largely stayed at home. There was no large immigrant population. There was no pre-school and minorities were in largely segregated schools in the city. I don't recall being taught to read or count in any systematic way, especially until second grade. I happened to have had college educated parents with high aspirations for their four children. When I was in high school my mother worked nights as a nurse in order to send us all through college. We all have post graduate degrees in education, social work, medicine, respectively. There was no such thing as advanced placement in our high schools. We did have chorus, band, typing sewing and cooking in our high school years and these taught us valuable life skills, some of which we also practiced at home. Many students did not go to college, but the demands of the work place were different with more lower skill level jobs. I have worked as a teacher, volunteer in the schools, a program manager and raised three children who graduated from the Evanston schools. What I have learned from these experiences is that children who are successful academically generally have strong support from families. Many families may value education, but may not be able to provide those supports that more affluent families provide and this is where early childhood education and other enrichment becomes necessary. It is in the long term interest of our community as a whole to provide what it takes to help all children to succeed. This includes special programs, but also many volunteer hours from members of the community through the schools and other community agencies.

  4. I’m voting for Andy

    Andy get's my vote. He's got institutional experience / his children will be attending ETHS / he has a strong business experience which will help our school stay both on track and on budget. PEG should only be a litmus test if one blindly follows their ideology. There is nothing to suggest that Andy is anything but an intelligent, critical thinking, informed, and an involved member of this community. He hasn't been bought or persuaded by anyone. He's exactly what we need – a strong independent thinker. That's exactly what we need – an open and informed mind. He's got my vote

    1. Andy also has my vote

      I agree with everything in the previous post. I have met Andy and I am convinced that he will be an excellent addition to the District 202 school board. He has the business background to ask the right questions regarding the school's budget and spending, and he also has the personal connection to the school. As an alum himself and as the parent of future ETHS students, he has a vested interest in making the high school better.

  5. Folks should read the PEG report

    I do not have kids at ETHS, so I haven't really been paying attention to what's been happening there.  With these posts, I tracked down the PEG report. Curiously, the the ETHS administration doesn't post it online–but you can find it here.

    I was struck by just how shoddy their research is.  They conducted a focus group with about 200 people and made no other attempt at collecting data.  While you can collect some important information from focus groups, it should only be one approach towards collecting data for assessment.  Focus groups are made up of self-selected participants whose views may not reflect the larger population being studied.  Furthermore, the "facilitation" questions described in the report seemed leading.

    A serious research group would acknowledge these complications and look for other ways to collect data (surveys, community economic data, etc….)

    It is pretty clear that this group has an agenda and fits "the data" into their agenda.

    I find it interesting that PEG's "critical race" explanation excoriates teachers so much.  This puts them on par with the Scott Walker/Tea Party types who are going after teachers for poor student performance. 

    Neither of these groups looks at the key issues of early childhood development, and economic conditions which mainstream education research tells us have significant impact on secondary school learning.

    I am not saying that issues of the achievement gap should not be addressed; but it should be done in an objective way to really understand the causes.

    1. Another issue for the board

      Another issue that the board totally ignored is that an organization brought in to do a needs assessment should NEVER be hired to do further work. Obviously, PEG interpreted the "data" (skimpy as it was) to fit their preconceived notions and their prefabricated solutions. More money for them! And somehow they have inveigled their way into the culture of the administration. I know students AND teachers who say the elimination of honors only has been a disaster, especially in biology – but those teachers are afraid to speak out.

      1. PEG is demonizing teachers — let’s see the performance data

        Very astute observations.  If you ask a surgeon what you need, you will almost always get a surgery.

        So surprise!  Ask PEG to tell us what ETHS needs, PEG tells ETHS — you need PEG!  Anyone who has worked with consultants knows that the entity that assesses the need is told, up front, you will not be eligible to do the work that you identify needs to be done.  Basic management technique to get quality needs assessments.

        I've have also heard that teachers are afraid to speak out against PEG for fear of angering the administration.  Remember, PEG will tell you that if you question PEG, you are a racist and you need to come clean by admitting your race-based hated of anyone who isn't white.

        I haven't mentioned before but it's true — teachers are demonized by PEG's teachings.  In PEG's view, the only reason that "black" and "brown" children aren't succeeding in school is those racist teachers.

        Why doesn't D202 work with D65 to find out which teachers have taught the children in D65 who arrive at ETHS reading and doing math at grade level — and above grade level?  And which teachers have students who routinely are performing below grade level?

        PEG is telling everyone that minority children fail because white teachers treat them differently due to their race.  The data exists to tell us which teachers in D65 taught which students. If the D202 School Board wants to identify those teachers whose students are not reading or doing math at or above grade level, let's have the facts and see where those facts lead us.

        1. Hammer in search of a nail

          As the sayings go, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail and like the student said when called on by the professor, ".. I did not hear the question but the answer is to spend more money, hire consultants and blame racism for everything."

          PEG and the Evanston schools want to blame everything else other than the Board, politicans with their pet theories ["racism is the cause of everything"] pour money at every hair brained idea, dumbing down classes and  and poor teachers [hopefully not too many of the latter].

      2. I guess it’s who you know

        Because all of the parents and teachers I know are pleased with the earned honors program.

        1. I’m sure there are some,

          I'm sure there are some, maybe many, who believe it's working. But what I hear is that there are a lot of kids — not only, or even predominantly, minorities — who don't turn in homework, drag down the discussion with off-the-wall remarks, and don't seem to want to be there, period. Why did anyone think that throwing kids of every ability level was going to somehow inspire underperforming students to try harder, or want to try harder? The excellent biology internship is now out the window, and teachers are struggling to teach to a very wide spectrum of abilities. The kids who need to be prepared for AP bio the following year are not getting what they need. How is this improving "equity"?

          I'm going to Curts Cafe this afternoon to listen to Gretchen Livingston and Doug Holt, and hope there will be a couple of candidate forums to address this.

        2. Important to have kids in school

          This is why it's vital to have board members who have or who will have kids in the school.  

  6. Let’s address the real question

    Fellow Evanstonians, let's stop making PEG a punching bag and address the real question head-on:

    Have ETHS policies and practices over the past 125 years resulted in the unequal distribution of educational capital and resources to Black students? The answer is a resounding yes. Those who believe otherwise need to do some serious reading, if nothing else.

    It wasn't too far in the past that ETHS assigned students to tracks based on whether their parents graduated from college. If anything, PEG and its philosophy around conducting courageous conversations let this community get off easy by de-emphasizing individual responsibility.

    Onward, ETHS, and any school board candidate who can keep 202 moving forward on this issue.

    1. PEG is the real question

      Any program that costs Evanston tax payers $350,000 is worth discussing. Just because over the past 125 there was a problem doesn't mean PEG is successful or helpful. Let's stop confusing the problem PEG is trying to address with what PEG is actually doing. Any candidate that supports the polarizing program that is PEG should not be supported for the benefit of the future and current students of the high school.

    2. PEG is not necessarily the solution

      I agree with Cblack. That's like somebody saying in Russia in 1917 'Oh things have been so terrible for hundreds of years under the Tsars, that's why we need communism to make things better!' Sometimes the things you do to address something bad can make things worse. 

    3. Resources

      Anyone who thinks ETHS has not been putting resources towards black students has not been paying attention lately. And anyone who thinks this is just an ETHS problem is incredibly naive. And anyone who thinks that paying a consulting company to change the culture of institutional racism at the school will raise test scores or close the achievement gap is equally naive.

      PEG will change nothing at ETHS because it does not address the problem – students who walk in the door unprepared to do high school level work. Many of these students entered kindergarten behind their peers and no amount of education in D65 could close that gap. In many cases, these problems began in preschool (or a lack of preschool).

      What could this community have done with another $250,000 toward early childhood programs for low-income families?

      1. Tracking is not new or just in Evanston

        It goes back at least 60 years and even small rural communities had tracking.  But the purpose was to allow each track to learn the material at a common level.  BUT the goal was for the teacher to be able to RAISE the skills of the students in the lower tracks so they could make PROGRESS and within 1-3 years catch up with the top track.  It worked !  However from what I gather about the difference in Evanston [stated or actual] was that in our schools tracking only existed through fourth grade.  In [even within] those year(s) students could move to higher tracks when the teacher had helped the student 'get back on track.'

        As most experts will state, if you don't fix the problem fix the problems by sixth grade, you will have a very difficult problem doing it in middle school [hormones, wanting social life] and by high school almost impossible without an exceptional teacher who captures the student's mind and heart [like a Jaime Escalante from 'Stand and Deliver'] or some other exceptional means like intensive tutoring.

        Unfortunately even a Jaime Escalante could not solve the problem for long—the administration thought they could improve on his methods and mass produce it.  They not only failed but forced him out and the school and students who followed went back to the same poor level.  What I read of the way the Evanston Board and other administrators function, that they would kill a Jaime Escalante's efforts.   Are their good teachers.  Obviously but I suspect they have to keep under the radar to keep from getting squashed.  Without their private tutoring, tutoring by concerned residents, parents there to tutor their children, NU and Oakton courses, the scores and results would be much worse that what we see.

        Does the Evanston school system need help ? Obviously but not by organizations that cry racism at every turn and a Board aiming for the lowest common denominator.

        1. History check

          With all due respect, this reading of history and research and the conclusions drawn from it are incomplete and misguided.

          For a succinct but comprehensive overview of the American high school as it relates to tracking, expectations for students, etc., see the white paper below:

          At the heart of the debate in American education is the question, "How should we address, honor, and celebrate the fact that students are both similar and different in many ways? And how can we do so in ways that set and keep high expectations for all, promote individual student growth, and uphold the democratic ideals that cherished and (hopefully) modeled by public education?"

          High schools have fallen far short of answering these questions well and are by and large relying on a model born in the early 20th century under markedly different assumptions and beliefs that (I hope) most Evanstonians do not hold today. Among them:

          1. Most kids can’t (and won’t) go on to postsecondary education and training—and don’t need to do so in order to make a good living.

          2. The majority of students have little to no need for a rigorous academic curriculum—only those who are “college material” need a discipline-based program.

          3. The most appropriate program/course sequences can largely be determined by test scores.

          Sorting students according to our perceptions of their capabilities and probable "destinies" disadvantages most of them, including those we deem the most advanced.

          Racism and classcism have no doubt played significant roles in this mess. While dwelling solely on race is unlikely to solve the problem, other strategies I see people engaging in (e.g., blaming "those kids' parents") are even more fruitless, especially when we know and (hopefully) believe that public education is still our best lever for social and economic mobility.

          Kudos to ETHS for their national leadership on these tough issues. I'm prouder to live here because of it.

  7. Earned Honors = No honors

    ETHS no longer offers an honors track for incoming freshman. That's what the course book should state.

    Colleges such as University of California run courses through a rubric to determine if high school course work is indeed an honors course – from their website: "Honors Courses are defined as a course specifically designed by the school with distinctive features which sets it apart from regular high school courses in the same discipline areas. Courses should be seen as comparable in terms of workload and emphasis to AP, IB or introductory college courses in the subject."

    If every child is given the same exact curriculum with the exact same assessments – than it's NOT honors work. It's a grading method. Earn a C or above on test A,B,C and then a B or above on tests D,E,F and we'll give you honors credit.

    Actually – I'm not exactly sure how it works, and neither is my freshman. I'm guessing most colleges won't call it honors work, because it isn't – at least not by current standards.

    Let's have integrity in our product. Maybe the course book should read "There is no honors courses offered Freshman year. Student's performance along with councilor guidance determine whether the student is eligible for honors level classes sophomore year.

    Of course if all the sophomore classes have the same curriculum – than no honors offered sophomore year as well.

    1. Material covered for courses

      I know some colleges [and graduate schools] will ask/check on what text was used for a course, esp if there is a question of the course being an 'honors' course.

      I.e. if text X [e.g. Edwards and Penny] is known to be superior to texts W,Y,Z [perhaps brief introduction] and X is considered an honors level, for a calculus course, a student getting an 'A' when using/mastering text X would be considered to have more meaning [an a real honors course] than students getting an 'A' using text W,Y,Z.

      Grade inflation and 'studying to the test' as some claim for AP courses, have made grades less meaningful so standard tests and knowing what texts the student used [and hopefully mastered] become more important.

    2. D202 policies could negatively impact local economy

      Evanston property owners should be very concerned with the direction D202 is going. If the district's reputation is harmed, and I think it has been, then there will be a negative impact on property values. I hope I'm wrong.

      Using PEG policies and eliminating true freshmen honor courses not only impacts academic excellence it also affects property values. More parents will skip Evanston because of the schools and others will send their kids to private schools. We've had it with D65 and Lincolnwood Elementary that failed to show adequate yearly progress in federally mandated tests. We're considering a move out of Evanston or in the short term at least, private school. 

      My advice – vote this April!!!

      1. ETHS vrs. Roycemore vrs. Home Schooling

        Are standardized test scores available for comparison with ETHS ?  If so how do they compare ?

        Are ACT/SAT scores and comparison available ? If so, how do they compare ?

        I don't know how many home school students there are in Evanston or whether they take the standardized state tests but if they do the comparision with ETHS would be interesting.   Many schools still require ACT or SAT and these comparisons with ETHS would be interesting.

        A private school like Roycemoore is expensive.  Many parents cannot afford that let alone private schools [boarding].  If ETHS is not meet the necessary standard parent may move, home school in part or whole, hire tutors or tutor the student themself.

        Parents are very important in helping their children either by tutoring them or getting additional resources.

        High school is obviously where the metal hits the road [getting into college or other training or jobs] but whether the student is white or Asian or a minority, if the education is not sufficient before ETHS,  it will be hard if not impossible to 'catch-up' for anyone in high school.  NU science and engineering faculty with children in or beyond middle school tell me that is where the blockage seems to occur—either loss of progress path or worse.  Probably some of that has to do with hormones and social life but many schools have dealt with that for generations.

        Feel Evanston 'not so bad' ?  Well many thinking of moving to Evanston would assume with the university and 'supposed' wealth that Evanston should be head and sholders above many communities.  If they see it is not 'ahead' they will be even more concerned about moving here.

        1. Roycemore works!

          Used to be a  D65 parent and have been an ETHS parent now also a Roycemore parent.  Let me tell you Roycmore works!  If you want to see true differentiation-look at Roycemore.  If you want to see true diversity -look at Roycemore.  If you want to see high-achieving minority kids -look at Roycemore!  

          1. Please tell us more
            Why does Roycemore work?
            How is differentiation implemented and executed at Roycemore?
            What do you mean by “true diversity” ?
            Why are minority kids high-achieving at Roycemore?

            As a former D65 & ETHS parent what insights can you share with the Evanston community – Parents, Teachers, Administrators that can enhance and improve the educational environment, opportunities and outcomes for ALL STUDENTS?

            Everyone can “win” and should “win”

      2. earned honors is great

        relax!  The earned honors program was great for my son and many of his friends.  He would not have tested into honors courses but when told what was expected he EARNED honors.  Every day, every assignment he had to work to get it.  He got 3 of the 4 honors credits he could have as a freshman.  Now hie is enrolled in 3 more (at the reccomendaiton of the school and an AP class is on the horizon next year.  

        He worked his ass off to get those honors.  why are we afraid of kids having to work for this HUGE bonus?  It is a huge bonus in college admissions — they should have to earn that and not be gifted it because someone advocated that they be pushed ahead in the 5th grade!

        This is new and innovatinve (and therefore scary) but give it a little time to work and to look at the data!  I know it is easier for parents who can get their kids to test into (or nagged into) honors courses and then not have to worry about that extra half point in the GPA calculation but it is nto fair to kids who are smart and willing to work hard to take that option away.  

        You do know that the bottom 40% of students are not in the mixed honors classes, right?  Those students needing more serious remedial help are not in these classes.  It is not a free for all.  It is letting students who are on the cusp have a chance.  That's another scary thing — it looks like elite control of power might not be quite so secure.  


        1. So look at the data

          You want data? Why don't you look at the data that the school released in December:

          Are you satisfied with these grade distributions for African-American students in Freshman Humanities 2011-2012?

          A/B: 34.2%
          C: 28.9%
          D/F: 34.9%
          NC: 2.0%

          You may say that it's new and innovative and needs time to work. But how may cohorts of students will have to fail before this experiment succeeds?

  8. Give everyone a fair chance – just don’t call it “honors”
    No one – at least not me – is opposed to a kid being given the opportunity to reach their highest potential. And god knows, one test shouldn’t determine placement. Such narrow criteria is relatively new to ETHS. Testing, classroom performance, teacher recommendation parental input – where all taken into account. It’s only in the recent past that it was narrowly defined as the top 5%. Then the curriculum was made the same and then there was no argument for pulling out the top 5%.

    What I’d prefer to see is the honors track stay in place and OPEN the doors to get it. In Brookline MA – they’ve done some similar restructuring, but they kept the honors track. Anyone could request to get in the honors classes and give it a shot. If it wasn’t a good match – the child adjusted out of honors. The mixed classes were small (17-19 kids) and it’s worked well. The Honors classes are large and run more like a college course – lecture style and requiring more independent initiative.

    I’m also not saying that it’s a bad idea to give everyone an even slate at Freshman year. Especially since our districts aren’t completely aligned. Let every kid get a chance to earn access to Honors sophomore year. But don’t call a grading system honors. That’s all.

    1. Let’s Lose the Honors Bump

      Why don't we have faster and slower tracks instead of "honors" and "non-honors" and remove the honors GPA bump.

      Some kids find it easier to master some material than others. This varies from student to student and from subject to subject. They don't need to be rewarded for that, they just need to be given the opportunity to work at the pace that works best for them.

      The current "earned honors" structure just rewards students for doing better work. That's what grades are for. Honors should be a reward for doing more work or harder work. But I don't think students need to be rewarded for having an aptitude for a particular discipline.

      High school should be a place where students learn to find out what they are good at and what they care about. They don't have to be good at everything, even in these days of competitive admissions.  They need to master the curriculum, and find out where their talents and inclinations lie.

      Let's figure out a way to assess them appropriately and place them in classes which challenge them appropriately, whatever level or pace that is.

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