The District 65 School Board is scheduled to receive a report Tuesday from an ad hoc committee supporting the proposal to rename Haven Middle School for retiring Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton.

The District 65 School Board is scheduled to receive a report Tuesday from an ad hoc committee supporting the proposal to rename Haven Middle School for retiring Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton.

The committee reportedly voted 4-3 in favor of renaming the school at a meeting last week.

The committee report says private donations have been promised to cover the cost of renaming the school.

The school name change is on the school board’s agenda for its meeting as a discussion item.

Mayor Morton began her career in District 65 as a classroom teacher at Foster School in 1953 and later taught at Nichols and Chute middle schools.

She was named principal at Haven in 1977 and held that position until her retirement in 1989.

She was elected 5th Ward alderman in 1985 and began the first of her four terms as mayor in 1993.

Related story

Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn on The name game in Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. Business as usual at D65
    Good to see that elected D65 officials have once again listened to the people.(sarcasm) This idea has been overwhelmingly opposed by the community of which Haven serves.

    What was going on in the mind of Mary Erickson when she proposed this idea? Isn’t naming the new Haven library in honor of Mayor Morten good enough? What is Ms. Erickson’s real agenda here?

    And where is Mayor Morten’s voice in all of this? She could quelch this discourse with the raising of her voice. I would hope that a library would be honor enough for her.

  2. What is in Mary Erickson’s mind? What’s her real agenda?
    I’ll answer those questions — the only constant thought in the mind of District 65 Board president Mary Erickson is what can she do to make Superintendent Hardy Murphy blissfully happy. That’s her only agenda. Consider how many times she has voted to raise Murphy’s salary to ridiculous levels approaching $300,000 per year when you total all of the perks and payments.

    So instead of accepting the proposal to name the newly-renovated Haven Middle School Library in honor of Mayor Morton, somehow Mary Erickson got the idea that Superintendent Murphy wanted more. That’s what this is all about — Superintendent Murphy wants Haven re-named for Morton and that’s all that Mary Erickson needs to know. She will blindly follow wherever Superintendent Murphy leads and she’ll take the rest of the Board with her.

    The entire Board is a disgrace. They have turned over total control of the District to an egomanical superintendent without any regard for what’s best for our students and their families.

  3. In complete support of changing the name
    I am shocked by all of the opposition to changing the name of Haven. If the Haven population had been polled six weeks ago, how many had any idea who Haven was? Do the parents and staff who are *so* opposed have plans to honor and teach his legacy to students? Was this important to them before the name change idea came up? What is the real reason for all of the hysteria?

    1. Name change: What’s the rush?
      Is this something that is appropriate to do as a knee-jerk reaction of “Quick! The mayor’s retiring–do SOMETHING to let her know she’s appreciated!”

      Really.

      I’m sure she’s honored by the fuss, and I’d like to think she isn’t weighing in on the subject because she feels it isn’t her place to tell people what to do in this context.

      Slow down, people. Let’s let a little time decide the Honorable Mayor Morton’s legacy, shall we?

      1. Don’t change the name
        While I usually avoid discussing school politics, because my crimefighting mission is to stop the NIMBYs and not reform public education, I must agree with those who do not want to change the name. But NOT because I care about old Jebediah Haven or the fond memories people have of their beloved middle school.

        Here is why the name should not be changed:

        1. It will cost money. ( Without creating many jobs, or creating anything of value like a new Civic Center)

        2. I disagree with the whole idea of naming public institutions, particularly schools, after individuals. While I have nothing against the mayor, I would prefer that no buildings be named after her or anyone else.

        I like the way that New York would have schools named “P.S. 433” or whatever (unfortunately, this pattern seems to be disappearing – I see many NYC schools named after people). I don’t know much about old man Haven, but there are few public figures who stand up to scrutiny in the long term. I think that ‘Prairie Middle School’ or ‘Evanston North Middle School’ would have been a fine name. We are stuck with Haven now – maybe when a new school is built some day (stimulus money, anyone?), we can come up with a better name.

        Evanston has schools named after Chuckie Dawes and Frances Willard – and these individuals are generally regarded as obnoxious by most objective historians. ( Actually, they are mostly forgotten by everyone, and don’t deserve to be remembered.) America is full of public roads and schools and airports named after obnoxious figures ( Balbo in Chicago, GHW Bush in Houston, McCarran in Las Vegas, anything named after Jefferson Davis,Robert E. Lee, Strom Thurmond Lake in SC, anything named after Daley or Stroger, or the J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters). Even Abe Lincoln isn’t as great as he is made out to be. Since these obnoxious figures were, and often still are, popular among certain people – it is best to just have a firm rule against naming public property after anybody – even the beloved mayor of Evanston.

        Let’s stick with geographical or natural descriptions, preferably of Native American origin ( Chicago, Kenosha, Pottawotamie ) and leave out the political figures. Occasional exceptions could be made for cases like servicemen and cops killed in action, or for great scholars who debunk NIMBY arguments on EvanstonNow.

        Yes, I am aware that the city was named after one John Evans. Too late to change that.

    2. History matters
      Well, yeah, a lot of us DID know who Otis Haven was. But isn’t the larger question, what’s the point of naming a building after someone if you remove the name as soon as the person falls out of fashion? Believe it or not, there are those of us who take Evanston’s history seriously. If you want Mayor Morton’s legacy to last more than a generation, then you should too.

  4. Mayor Morton’s Legacy
    While i have heard and read much about Mayor Morton’s accomplishments and would fully agree that she is a wonderful person, there is one fact and one question i have about her career in public service. The fact remains that under her leadership as Mayor of Evanston, the City’s unfunded pension liability for fire and police skyrocketed from $45mm in 1997 to ~ $145mm at March 31, 2008 as reported by the Blue Ribbon Pension Committee. This “legacy” from Mayor Morton’s tenure will be borne by current and future Evanstonians. My question is given her background as a teacher and principal, why has she allowed the quality of both D65 and D202 to deteriorate? Mayor Morton is beloved by many, including me, but these 2 issues need to be considered from an objective and thoughtful perspective when considering the best way to honor her legacy.

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