The Evanston School District 65 board approved the appointment of three new administrators this week — including the district’s first executive director of black student success.

LaTarsha Green, the new executive director of black student success, now is principal at Dawes Elementary School and will transition to her new role over the summer.

Before coming to District 65, Green served as principal at Marquette School of Excellence in Chicago for five years. She has also worked as an assistant principal, curriculum and instruction developer, classroom teacher and technology coordinator during more than 20 years working in public schools..

She holds a doctorate in education policy studies and urban leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Sharon Sprague.

Sharon Sprague, the new director of early childhood programs, has been an educator for almost 20 years, starting as a teaching-artist in New York City.

She has been a primary grade teacher, teacher mentor and assistant principal in the Chicago Public Schools and an early-childhood intervention specialist and special education teacher for D38 Kenilworth.

Sprague has been nominated for the Golden Apple award for teaching excellence. She hold a master’s in early childhood development and education from the Erickson Institute in Chicago and is a doctoral student in the Urban Educational Leadership Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her two adult children graduated from Oakton, Chute and ETHS.

Keri Mendez.

Keri Mendez, the new principal at Bessie Rhodes School, has spent the past seven years as the co-principal of Howe School in Chicago Public Schools. 

Mendez began her teaching career in Evanston at Pope John XXIII School and worked as a classroom teacher in CPS as well as for the University of Chicago Charter Schools. She has also served as an assessor for the principal eligibility process in Chicago and an instructional coach for teachers with the Academy for Urban School Leadership.  

Mendez earned a doctorate in School Administration via New Leaders for New Schools from National Louis University. She grew up in Evanston, attending both Orrington and Haven.

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  1. These appointments should

    These appointments should have been on a contract basis only. What are the stated goals and will they be terminated if results are not seen in a reasonable amount of time?  What is the price tag for this feel good?

    1. Of course they did

      The schools [and city government]  have one solution for everything—hire new people without ever defiining the problem.  Until you find the REAL problem, you  can’t  solve it.

      Did the Superintendent fail ? Principal ?  Teachers ? Clearly someone failed. Yet it always easy to  blame the children and hire more staff with the hope this time the problem will be solved.

      They need to clean house  from top to bottom..

    2. The pricetag is now the cost

      The pricetag is now the cost of sending kids to a private school

      1. Private School

        You bet!  That’s why we chose private jr.high and high schools…….pure excellence, with no added nonsense!

    3. It will just be another
      It will just be another referendum to pay for these (feel good) initiatives.

      The City of evanston is about 20% African American, but comes with a dedicated black success executive director while all the other races have none. Is this the “equity” Goren is talking about?

      This has to stop.

  2. WOW

    Now that they are endowed with all this extra money, it must be burning a hole in their pocket. They can’t seem to stop their wasteful spending. They are sure to be back sooner than we thought for the taxpayer’s pocket book.

  3. Equity??

    Since Evanston always follows principles of EQUITY, I look forward to the announcment of the hiring of the director of white student success. 

    1. When I hear white people say “what about my equity”…

      When I hear white people demand equity for themselves because they perceive others who don’t have equal access to opportunity as getting more than them I think of the child who questions his parents as to why there is a Father’s Day and a Mother’s day, but no “kids” day. The parents reply that the other 363 days of the year are “kids” day. In other words white people already get everything they need and more every freaking day.

      1. Offensive

        Now this is a racist reply.

        You immedeiately single out white people, and apply a blanket assumption that they are all privileged because of their skin color. I am not white, and I take offense to your comment.

      2. Racism is alive and well in Evanston

        Racism is alive and well in Evanston.

        I’m white and take offense to your comment. There are poor-low income white peeps living in Evanston that probably take offense. You equate whites to children and suggest they get everything they “need and more.” Racist much?

        BTW-this executive director of black student success position is a discrimination lawsuit waiting to happen. Our government should not be involved in race based policies that benefit one race at the expense of another. D65 needs to change its motto from “every child, every day, whatever it takes”.to “some children, every day, whatever it takes.”

        Let’s not forget that D65 has an “equity consultant” as well. It’s equity policy the school board adopted suggests there is “racism and cultural bias” in the schools and has mandated that teachers and administrators take “equity training.

        For those who oppose the director of black student success position that benefits students of a certain race then the best course of avenue is to vote out all current school board members, get a new crop in there and fire Goren. Otherwise, things at D65 will only worsen and at some point probably our home values.

    2. Great comments

      These are all great comments…..who takes the blame when white, Asian nad/ or Hispanic students are failing?  This all makes it sound like the only ones who need real help are the African-American students.   I would take great offense to this assumption.  Education is or should be, the same for all.  There are MANY reasons why any student is not doing their best….every child, parent, and household is different. This is not solvable by hiring very expensive educators only for one race of people.  Shame on Dist. 65……what a waste of money.  

    3. When are you hiring EXEC DIRS for………..

      HISPANICS, INDIANS, ASIANS, WHITES, etc…….Why only a Exec Dir for BLACK Students?? How is this EQUITABLE?? Let’s get something straight here…..ALL STUDENTS MATTER!!!! 

      1. read these

        We can all only hope that the administrators read these comments, and feel VERY embarrassed by what they have done.   Where is their sense of logic?   ALL STUDENTS MATTER should be the next overdue headline!  Thank you all for your intelligent comments…too bad all of you aren’t on any school boards!

    4. Equity

      Equity =  giving everyone what they need to be successful.   Equality = everyone the same.   

      1. It’s disheartening to read

        It’s disheartening to read the comments that focus on race. I’m white, my kids went through D65 and ETHS and received excellent educations. Far better than my private school education. 

        What is D65 supposed to do with the achievement gap issue, ignore it? I supported the Afri-Centric curriculum spend even though it was doubtful that it would move the needle and the administration was purposely opaque about the cost. Why? Because the problem is real and effort and ideas provide some hope whereas stagnation (which the above comments promote) offers none. And so now the district has hired a Ph.D. with expertise in this area to direct and make recommendations at a cost of…what…half a milliion (salary and expenses)? Why are you so offended as a white person? Are there specific services your child does not receive…have supplies or technologies been withdrawn from the classroom as a result? I don’t hold much help that the hire and the spend will dramatically change achievement but I wholeheartedly support the effort. The spend is diminimis. The effects of racism and the very real achievement gap on the lives of these young kids is not.

      2. It’s debatabe and remains to

        It’s debatabe and remains to be seen whether a Director of Black Student Achievement is “giving everyone what they need to be successful.”

        Also, with this position, the district is not working toward “success” in general–they are focused on Black Student achievement as measured by standardized tests.

  4. It’s not about really about race

    I probably take a more middle stance on this than the above comments. Really, the Executive Director of Black Student Success should be focused on what models of education optimize the success rates of students coming from more disadvantaged backgrounds. Those students DO need “more help” and perhaps respond positively to different types of motivational factors. In Evanston, these types of students are disproportionally black (so this position would deal with that community more), but it certainly is NOT exclusively black students. And, of course, there are still black students in Evanston coming from well-off families.

    There is nothing about race that pre-determines outcomes, it’s simply a matter of resources given to them by their family, parental involvement and educational attainment, and other social and cultural impacts where their likelihood of success varies. They come into kindergarten with very different levels of attainment, which is why early education and family involvement before that point is very important.

    I personally find the obsession with trying to always boil things down to race disheartening as it labels an entire diverse population as a monolithic group. All black students are NOT the same! (As all Asian, hispanic, and white students are not). Oddly, nobody seems to care about the fact that boys are suspended at much greater rates than girls — so much so that they don’t even keep stats on it! And those cannot be explained by differences in socioeconomic status and parental involvement as they’re equally dispersed throughout the population, so that is an example of clear institutional gender discrimination against boys! (Not really, boys just are different than girls biologically and with community expectations — there probably are teaching techniques that help boys more that should be explored and the fact that teachers are 80%+ female nobody seems to care about…not that I necessarily agree that the best way to optimize outcomes is to have more teachers of the same race/gender, I think that misses the point).

    With all that said, I think the vast vast majority of Evanston households want the best for ALL sets of students and we should be exploring techniques to optimize outcomes so that students can achieve the best of THEIR potential. It’s not a reasonable expectation no matter what a school does to think that students from poor families with low levels of educational attainment to have the exact same results as parents from wealthy ones and I don’t know why that’s the goal. Should the goal not be to ensure poor students have access and that the educational system is setting them up for success in life as much as possible?

    The comparison Evanston tries to always do makes no sense. A better comparison would be to analyze results of the Evanston cohort vs. a similar cohort in a different school district (such as in Chicago). If you looked at that, you’d see that students living below the poverty line or on reduced/free lunch (and I like to look at it that way instead of looking at groups through race) are performing MUCH better in Evanston than the majority of school districts in the state. The district is NOT failing those students. They are getting a good education and clearly learning more than they would in a different school district if coming from the same background.

    If we constantly do an Asian/white vs. black comparison and want it to be perfectly equal, we’d have to have those sets of communities come from the same types of households, which they do not in Evanston. Would it not be a positive sign of the education Evanston provides if Asian students improved by 15%, white students by 10%, hispanic students by 8%, and black students by 10%? They ALL got better! But, the people in charge would say “no, that’s a terrible outcome! The achievement gap has gotten larger.” I would argue that improving the results of all cohorts of students to the most degree possible should be the goal not to make every single group perfectly equal.

    If wealthy students start to perform much worse so they have the same test scores as poor students, that’s a good thing? I don’t personoally think so. We should want our wealthy students to have their potential optimized too. We should be looking to have ALL students have their outcomes improved and it’s certainly plausible that poorer students do need different/more strategies/techniques/resources at schools, but it’s going to be a constant battle for eternity if the goal is to make it such that test scores are perfectly equal across all groups because that’s never going to happen unless the groups all have similar inputs (I’m using “inputs” in the scientific study sense, meaning parental involvement, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, etc.).

    So, while I support a position to look at techniques to improve outcomes of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, I think it was a lost opportunity to label the entire black student populace as a monolithic group that responds to the same stimuli and instead it should be more focused on other factors besides race, but this position would still disproportionately deal with the black community based on the demographics of Evanston. I don’t know that a position fully dedicated to that is needed though, and certainly other administrators and teachers in charge should already be dedicating efforts to this cause.

    1. A well-reasoned argument

      A well-reasoned argument and I agree with your main points, including the idea of focusing on a range of factors to which achievement is linked in Evanston and nationally.

      Such data aren’t available, but I suspect we would see a very, very strong correlation between whether students live in a two-parent home versus a one-parent home, especially (but not only) if we added the factor of qualification for free-reduced lunch. In fact, it’s fair to say that the achievement gap between students living in one-parent homes that qualify for F/R lunch and students living in two-parent homes that do not qualify for F/R lunch is even more pronounced than the White/Black gap. )Notably, no one in this community or country complaining about “two-parent privilege,” even though it predicts outcomes far better than race.)

      Director of the Achievement of Students from Single-Parent, Low-SES Homes would actually be more defensible than Director of Black Student Achievement, but both idesa miss the boat.

      A position that focuses on the achievement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds–or even just a Director of Achievement–would be far more equitable and less politically charged.

      1. Agree 100% with both posts

        if the board comes back for money, it will be the last time i’ll Support them.

  5. Regarding the hiring of Dr.

    Regarding the hiring of Dr. Green for the Director of Black Student Achievement position:

    Has black student achievement at Dawes (as measured by standardized tests) increased under her tenure as principal there? If not, I’m  not sure why elevating her to this position is warranted.

  6. Astounding

    The amount of money we spend and waste for literally ZERO improvement in school performance is absolutely astounding.

  7. How to become a wonderful, loving, sensitive and caring adult

    Attertion students: If your desire is to become a wonderful, loving, sensitive and caring adult, choose your parents very carefully.

    1. Money
      D65 received a massive amount of money thanks to those endearing parents voting for a huge tax increase. Of course the money will be wasted.

      All the students could be sent to private schools and we’d save money.

    2. Attention students

      If your desire is to succeed in school then please listen to your parents when they tell you to do your homework, study every night, get your face out of a video screen. The majority of successful students have parents that “oversee” and “regulate” their schooling. Let’s not beat around the bush here. Successful students have loving, sensitive and caring parents that ensure their kids are doing their school work. Period.

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