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Casey Miller, former counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and director of the Iran-Contra investigation, has launched his campaign for a seat on the Evanston Township High School District 202 School Board.

“By any measure – faculty excellence, innovation, student achievement, financial stewardship – ETHS is an exceptional school,” he said in a statement. “ As a member of the District 202 School Board, I will work tirelessly to maintain excellence and ensure that all students have the opportunity, resources, and support to excel in the 21st Century,” he added.

He stressed the need for greater collaboration with the District 65 elementary and middle schools which feed into the high school to provide a seamless educational experience from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Miller is a summa cum laude graduate of Wabash College, with a law degree from Indiana University.  He and his wife, Lee Ann Russo, and sons Eli (ETHS Class of 2013) and Ezra (Haven Middle School 7th grade), have lived in Evanston since 1993.

The candidate has served as chairman of the City of Evanston Ethics Board and president of the Evanston Baseball & Softball Association.

He is one of eight candidates for four spots on the board in the April 9 election.

Charles Bartling

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...

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13 Comments

  1. Miller mum on PEG and freshmen honors…hmmmm

    Notice how Casey doesn't address his position on PEG or detracking freshmen honors at ETHS – two controversial issues facing Evanston voters.

    I can assume he supports these positions.

    Casey Miller was prez of EBSA and so was Alderman Jane Grover's husband. And Grover's college roommate and friend is Grethen Livingston.  No point here except this plays into my suspicions of an elite group in Evanston determined to possibly push for more detracking ETHS honor courses in the future. I bet Livingston supports PEG and detracking freshmen honors as well.

    The only two I like here are Bezaitis and Holt.

    1. Agreeing with Anonymous Al — no vote for Livingston and Miller

      That's the way that I am seeing things, too.  Birds of a feather, as I see it.  Livingston appears to be strongly in the PEG camp and it appears that Miller is as well. 

      Given their positions on PEG and its teachings, I encourage everyone not to vote for Livingston or Miller as they support the wasteful spending and racist teachings in D202. 

      Bezaitis has already spoken out against funding PEG and against supporting PEG's teachings.  So he's got my vote in the upcoming election.  Holt — not sure about that candidate yet.  I need to read or hear whether he sees  PEG as the wasteful, negative and damaging presence that it is.

      1. Skeptical of Miller as well

        Skeptical of Miller as well, but maybe he'll be his own man.  Let's hope he speaks up on the issues during the campaign.  As for Holt, I'm quite sure he's not a fan of PEG.  Holt and Bezaitis for me, along with Deb Graham, who voted against the biology proposal.  

    2. An Elite Group? Come on…..

      An elite group?  Let’s stop these conspiracy theories and have a real discussion of issues.  Besides throwing out not so veiled racial overtones, please explain to me the basis for tracking kids?  Are you afraid that your child will have to actually work to earn honors credit?  That he or she will not have it handed to them on a silver platter?  If people want to have a real debate then they should not hide in the shadows.  Besides drawing everything back to PEG, there has not been a single discussion worthy of this important election.  Be honest, all this is about is people thinking their kids are better than others.  

      1. Elite, or just connected?

        Another poster referred to an "elite group."  What I see is a group of connected Evanston residents who have unrealistic (not-based-on-the-data agendas).  This connected group is willing to recruit their like-minded friends to pack boards to put taxpayer dollars behind their unrealistic agendas and exclude those with opposing ideas.  So I will refer to them as the "connected".  No conspiracies.  It's just how the connected operate here.

        It was only a matter of time before assertions of racism got hurled — if you oppose PEG, you are a racist.  Ever so predictable in Evanston — if you can't defend your position with facts, start labeling everyone who has the stronger argument as a racist.

        You couldn't be more wrong about the source of my concern.

        No, I am not worried that my child will not have to work hard.  That's what we expect and what is best for that child.  I don't know if my child would have been placed in the freshmen honors courses as they existed until the dismantling (too young).  So that's not my motivation.

        What is not right is paying a snake-oil salesman to peddle racist garbage about and to our teachers and have that rubbish imposed on our children's education.  Quality diversity education is not based on a drum beat of shame, shame, shame and racist stereotypes.  There's a name for any diversity program that focuses only on race and puts all races in a "basket" on how the entire race views the world and works — it's called junk.

        No, it's not about me thinking that my child is "better than others."  I have already written that that's not my view.

        Here's my concern:  ETHS needs to meet the needs of ALL of our students.  Following the teachings of PEG, ETHS is moving away from that by demonizing teachers, high-achieving students and certain races.  No one has explained how that helps under-achieving students.  With a look to Abraham Lincoln's wise guidance in general, you cannot strengthen poor-achieving students by weakening the higher-achieving students.  ETHS needs to teach acceptance of ALL students and teach to the strengths of ALL students.  By following the teachings of PEG, ETHS does not.do that.

        I want to keep the two arguments separate:

        1.  Considering the results thus far and based on PEG"s own teachings, should ETHS continue its relationship with PEG?  I think that the resounding answer must be no based on the lack of data-based content and the race-based stereotypes that it peddles.

        2.  How do we address the problem of minority underachievement?  That plan should be comprehensive and based on data, not on racist hogwash.  Here are some ideas that will help:

        a.  Our community must insist that D65 identify underperforming students no later than 1st grade for an intense intervention program and evaluate students at the beginning and end of each school year for students who fall behind in other grades. 

        Before and after school programs with homework help as well as a review of content offered that day and a preview of content to be covered the next day.  Focused attention to reading proficiency would be provided daily.  Enrichment activities, such as visits to museum and art performances, also need to be encouraged.  And no, in my experience, while the current afterschool programs at D65 have a role, they do not provide this intense educational intervention.

        b.  Have D65 collect and evaluate the data on which teachers in D65 have taught students who show up on day 1 at ETHS reading and doing math at or above grade level.  Yes, I know that students and teachers change school districts.  But there are also teachers who have taught in D65 for 10, 20, 30 and more years. 

        Determine through facts who is teaching those students who consistently arrive at ETHS ready to learn and perform at and above grade level.  Then reward those teachers — bonuses and higher pay for working before and after school as a high-impact mentor and trainer for other teachers. 

        And what if that data reflects that teachers of underforming students are from all races?  We can relay it to PEG so that it can consider how that affects PEG's teaching that the only reason for the achievement gap is racist white teachers which according to PEG, means all white teachers because all whites are racist and succeed only because of white privilege.

        c.  ETHS needs to restore the original honors courses.  But ETHS also needs to extensively revamp the course content provided to underachieving students.  Why not have rigorous courses for those students as well?  Those who favor mixed honors courses — why couldn't this provide the rigor that currently under-achieving students need while not eliminating honors courses for those who can already achieve at a higher level?

        The blame game doesn't elevate anyone or their achievement.  Identifying the problem and addressing it before its a disaster is the right course. 

        Here's the disaster:  waiting unti a child arrives at 9th grade reading and doing math at a 5th grade level (or below) then expecting that that child to become a high-achieving student by sitting in a classroom with high-achieving students.  Look at the middle schools — disengaged students don't participate in the daily class activities and don't complete homework.  Meanwhile, the course content goes flying by and they fall further and further behind every day.  Some students who are not achieving disrupt courses every day, probably because they are frustrated with their current situation and don't see how this content that they don't understand is of any use to them. 

        Expecting underperforming students to magically be transformed into high-achieving students by sitting in a classroom together is folly.  Sadly, that folly will sentences hundreds of underperforming students to a life of poverty — no better than the old system.

         

      2. Let’s be honest

        I don't want to undermine Casey Miller just because he has ties to Mark Metz.  As I say in another post, maybe he'll be his own man.

        That said, the "issue" of PEG is really a proxy for how potential board members will make decisions.  The pro-PEG group, of which Mark Metz is the leader, place ideology over rational decision making and analysis.  And they would rather act as cheerleaders for the administration than provide actual oversight to hold ETHS's leaders accountable.  In putting forth proposals, the administration hasn't been shy about using Evanston's racial politics to their advantage.  No "pros and cons" are provided and instead they simply assert that a proposal will be great for equity and great for excellence without any negative consequences.  In this regard, they assert that institutional racism (a PEG concept) is a key reason for the achievement gap despite not having any data whatsoever to support that premise.   This creates a dynamic where anyone who questions the proposal must be in favor of the "status quo" and, hence, a "racist" who wants all-white classrooms for honors classes where good grades are handed out like candy.  It takes a brave board member to ask the hard questions and stand up to such tactics.  Notably, the early data on humanities suggests that there are negative consequences to this untested approach.

        More importantly, any honors course at ETHS should be rigorous and require not only a deeper understanding of the material than a regular course, but additional projects, reading assignments etc.  In other words, grades in any honors course should be "earned."  This is another area where there's hypocrisy in the administration's rhetoric.  By calling it "earned honors" they undermine the straight honors and AP courses that are available in grades 10-12.  In fact, the whole reason given for the freshman restructuring was to promote more minority students into these straight honors and AP courses.  It is nonsense to suggest that students don't earn their grades in those courses.  If not, then the administration is entirely to blame for watering down the curriculum.

        We should all agree that honors and AP courses should be available to students who are capable of handling that curriculum.  And it's fair to say that students should not have any particular "track" at ETHS decided for them by a test in middle school.  But it is entirely specious to assert that parents who are anti-PEG and who question the administration's decisions simply believe "their kids are better than others." 

      3. PEG is everything because it is forming the philosophy of ETHS

        Several commentors have said that people should not focus so much on PEG, as it's only one issue.  In my mind, it is the only issue.   PEG and the philosophy of critical race theory is shaping ETHS. There is nothing veiled about the issue of race in this discussion.  ETHS under the guidance of PEG is making all it's decisions based on race, so this debate must discuss race head on.

        PEG is teaching that african american students do not succeed because their style of learning is not compatible with a "white" culture that stresses individualism, work ethic, and timeliness, and that the school must adapt to the african american culture and not vice versa.   Not only is this philosophy completely opposite to my ethical and moral beliefs as a teacher and a mother, there is no educational research of any kind to support this claim.  Quite the opposite.

        A newly released highly acclaimed book titled "How Children Succeed" by Paul Tough chronicles research by neurologists, pyschologists, and educators asking the question, "what predicts what makes a child successful in life", as defined by higher paying jobs, long lasting marriages, and overall better life quality.  The research is showing that character traits of perserverence, work ethnic, resilence, and curiority are as important, if not more important than IQ.       There is nothing racial about these claims, and no reason that people of all colors can not embrace these character traits.  Working hard, being on time, and taking responsibility as an individual ARE important, and learning how to do these things is probably the most important goal of education.

        I will not have my children attend a school that says otherwise, and we will move or send our children to private school if ETHS current philosophy persists.  .

         

         

         

  2. Casey Miller=Mark Metz

    Casey Miller is running because of his connections with Mark Metz  via EBSA.  Mark has been a Witherspoon "yes" man.  Has been a strong supporter of PEG and has voted to end Freshman Honors only courses in English and Biology.  Mark Metz recruited Casey Miller to run.

  3. Casey Miller for D202!

    Casey Miller is a smart, thoughtful, dedicated person who will be analytical, ask tough questions and work professionally with fellow board members to do what is best for all ETHS students.  This is what we want in all school board members.  ETHS is a fabulous school worthy of the national recognition it receives and it is the board's job to ensure that excellence continues and that all students share in it.  I believe Casey is highly qualified and will do a great job as a D202 board member!

    1. Would Miller support PEG?

      If elected as a D202 Board member, will Casey Miller support a continuing relationship with Pacific Education Group and will he support continuing PEG's teachings at ETHS?

    2. absolutely correct

      …it is the board's job to ensure that excellence continues and that all students share in it.

       

      Yes, this is the point.  No one is advocating for diminished outcomes for the top performing kids, but for all kids to share in the excellence.  High school matters for ALL kids.

  4. Stars upon thars

    Tracking – such a bad word these days. The reason to do it and the reason most nearby high schools do it – is because kids are different.

    If the earned honors track is truly taught at an honors level – than my incoming freshman is screwed. He has learning and reading challenges and the last thing he needs is to be in a class that moves too fast and make success impossible for him.

    He does not need to feel stupid – he's not. What I'd prefer is that each track be robust, challenging, interesting and appropriate. For each track to be able to stand alone in it's integrity. I don't see any reason for is a grade bump based on your level.

    If my son busts his butt in a level 2 class (assume we had one) and got an A – it should be worth as much as someone with more academic advantages who is a level 1 class and gets and A. The main frustration at ETHS was that the classes weren't racially diverse – or said another way – D65 wasn't able to set up the same percent of african american kids for access to Honors.

    Without tracks – most often – the teaching falls to the middle meeting neither the needs of very few students. That's not to say that master teachers can't and don't do a good job with a broadly diverse group – but it's not the norm. It's really hard to execute well. I was in a tracked high school and not in the top track – I don't think it scared me for life. We – in our lower track – generally had stronger social skills and more creativity that the nerds at the top 🙂

  5. It’s not about race

    The rest of the country is realizing that race is not the critical issue in education.  Look at a racially diverse but an economically homogenous school and you see all kids achieving and succeeding.  If any school has addressed institutional racism for decades, it is ETHS, with programs put in place by the NAACP.

    This is a civil rights issue where I don't want any group, not PEG, aka NAACP, not B'nai Brith or the Catholic church, not the Heritage Foundation, not the religious right or left, not any well-meaning political or religious organization, dictating what should happen at any public school. 

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