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D202 teachers defend work of racial consultants

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A program to help faculty and staff of Evanston Township High School understand and communicate more effectively with racial minority students at the school was lauded by teachers on the District Equity Leadership Team Monday night at a meeting of the District 202 School Board.

When board member Jonathan Baum questioned the approximately $70,000 a year paid to consultants of the Pacific Educational Group (PEG), teacher Rick Cardis responded that, if anything, they were underpaid.

Cardis contended that the program was the most effective professional development experience he has ever had at the school and praised the work of the consultants, who provide ongoing training and discussion with the school’s deans, counselors, department chairs, staff, social workers, and teachers.

He was joined by fellow teacher Matt Walsh in praising the ability of the PEG team to enable teachers to hold what the program refers to as “courageous conversations” with minority students that enables the teachers to better differentiate their teaching techniques to reach all students.

The equity program is part of the district’s efforts to narrow the educational performance gap between white and African-American students that has been an ongoing focus of the school for years.

The consultants work with schools all over the country, including Oak Park, New Trier, and Highland Park in the Chicago area. District officials told the board that about $265,000 has been spent on the program so far, at the rate of about $70,000 per year, but that the payments to the consultants are scheduled to end within the next two years.

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 stations and business-oriented magazines.

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