Evanston Township High School school board candidates voiced different priorities, from special education to ninth grade reading levels at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Evanston Wednesday night.

“There should be an increased focus on ninth grade reading levels,” said Monique Parsons, current board vice president. “I think we need to target students coming into the district reading below grade level. It’s hard to address the achievement gap if children aren’t reading at grade level.”

“We need to hold the administration to task to increase every child’s academic trajectory.” said Slaney Palmer. “We should start with literacy and put systems in place to support students and also support the teachers who are critical to ensuring that students can and will succeed.”

“Take a hard look at special education,” said Elizabeth Rolewicz. “We should make more of an effort to have special education students mainstreamed as much as possible. Special ed students make the greatest strides by being around typical learners. We need to make a better effort to see them as part of the community that has the right to succeed to the same level as every other student.”

“We miss a lot of opportunities for communication with the community, with parents,” said Stephanie Teterycz. “There seem to be a lot of questions about what the board does, why policies are made the way they are. We should work on transparency, communicating out and early. Instead of asking parents to come looking for it, we could be more proactive.”

Moderator Lali Watt asked candidates whether they would support a proposal to allocate $7,000 per student in ETHS and District 65 resources to Evanston Cradle to Career to help expand kindergarten-readiness.

“Cradle to Career is a great resource for the community, but woefully underfunded,” said Teterycz. “I think Cradle to Career needs to be looked at very critically, but I don’t think it’s set up to succeed.”

“I support Cradle to Career and think we should be talking to them about how are they reaching out to the zero to five families,” said Rolewicz. “They should expand home visiting, nutrition education and parenting classes.The issue with kids not being kindergarten-ready is that many kids don’t have access to preschool or contact with the education system before they show up at the first day of kindergarten. Cradle to Career should make more effort to find those families and intervene at a younger age.”

“I support the work of Cradle to Career,” said Palmer. “We need to look at the structures we have in place to support Cradle to Career, define its outcomes and then allocate money appropriately.”

“This is a community issue and ETHS needs to be part of the conversation,” said Parsons. “Cradle to Career is a selective impact initiative, not a program. Serious conversations need to take place at Cradle to Career to consider the urgency of students coming into kindergarten ready. That requires a broader conversation beyond what the school districts do.”

“I believe ETHS should pay into Cradle to Career,” she said, ‘but so should the city, so should Northwestern, so should non-profit organizations that have a vested interest in the future of our children. We need to reassess the arrangement we have with C2C and its effectiveness to respond to the needs of our community.”


The Organization for Positive Action and Leadership has endorsed Parsons, Rolewicz and Teterycz..

The Evanston Township High School Teachers’ Council has endorsed Palmer and Parsons as “candidates that show a strong commitment to advocating for our students.”

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