Evanston/Skokie School District 65 will have two new positions on the payroll by next fall. An executive director of black student success and an equity instructional coach will be tasked with improving outcomes for black students in the schools.  

The divide between black and white student success has been evident in Evanston for more than a generation, and leaders in the black community have been pushing for action to tackle the issue for years. 

A couple dozen Evanston residents were on hand at Monday night’s school board meeting to support the announcement by Superintendent Goren and board members. 

Roger Williams.

“We want to acknowledge and congratulate on your decision to make a positive step toward mitigating the black student achievement gap in District 65,” said Roger Williams of OPAL, the Organization for Positive Action and Leadership. He also urged Superintendent Paul Goren to let Black leaders help find and vet the ideal candidates for those roles. 

Paul Goren.

While saying the responsibility ultimately lies with him, Goren did not rule out the involvement of community leaders in the search.

Funding for the positions will come from some reorganization within the district and $141,750 from Northwestern University. Northwestern offered the financial commitment annually to offset losses in local revenues due to the university’s recent property acquisitions in downtown Evanston.

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  1. Whatever it takes
    So the African-American curriculum at Oakton Elementary and all of the racial set asides isn’t enough. D65 begged voters to give them a $100 million property tax hike last year and now they create two new positions aimed to benefit only at students of a particular race.

    Meanwhile, politicians such as Daniel Biss are advancing a Robin Hood funding plan in the state that would take away funds from wealthier school districts like D65 and give it to poorer districts.

    D65’s motto – Every child, every day, whatever it takes – is no longer applicable. It’s more like Every black student, every day, whatever it takes to fill the gap.

  2. I hope this works, but…

    I hope that D65 has found the solution to improving academic performance for black students.

    The entire Evanston community will get behind this effort or any effort that can produce tangible results, however…

    Over the last 10 – 20 years many initiatives have been undertaken, and to date I’m not aware of any results. D65 has spent money to reduce class sizes, provide an African Centered Curriculum, and results for black students have fallen far short of expectations.

    D65 had a black superintendent whose sole focus was supposedly on improving black student achievement and it didn’t demonstrate results.

    Hopefully this new initiative will be the answer. But, as we embark on another initiative, have we defined, described and fully understand the underlying problem we are trying to address? Will there be specific goals and timeframes established before this initiative starts? And how will the progress be monitored and evaluated as time goes by?

    Does the D65 Administration and Board know why the Achievement Gap remains in Evanston schools, after so many years and a lot of money has been spent to eliminate the Gap?

    Why will this time be different?

    I hope all black students will increase their academic performance.

  3. So what is the message ?

    To parents and other taxpayers, it seems the message is for K-12 from [assistant] principals through Superintendent, “we don’t know how to hire good [let alone best] teachers, train teachers, help students falling behind], create a good curriculum, select books, etc.

    To students [as well as parents and other taxpayers] the message is “we don’t think minority [read black and Hispanic] kids can really ‘cut it’ so we have to create special programs for them.” So why no special programs are needed for Asian, European, Easterner European? These groups seem, at least in terms of stereotypes, to be able to adjust to the standard curriculum.

    If black and Hispanic students test scores in history/literature were lower, there might be some argument for [alternative] materials to include more of their culture [good textbooks and readings should cover all cultures anyway]. But math/science and English scores are lower also. An employer does not want to know if you know Afro-centric math or how to calculate with an abacus—he wants to know how much of standard math you know], nor if you know an African language or even Spanish unless that is part of the job.

    He won’t ask in an interview what your knowledge of Shakespeare or Mark Twain or American history but if at the lunch table if topics like this come up and the student draws a blank or makes comments that make no sense, that filters up the line. Maybe it is a ‘white culture’ currently, but students and parents beating their heads against a wall won’t help.

    Well informed minority students may be able to inject corrections or additional information into class discussions, but first the schools have to teach the basics. Instead the schools [and library] think they need to hire more ethnic/racial staff to accomplish want their own hires have not been able to do. Low expectation [including of ability] lead to low results.

    Odds are the schools will plead for more time—then in a year or two for still more staff and larger budget for what they still have not accomplished.

  4. And if this doesnt work?

    What will be the next option if this fails?  Are there people that believe teachers and other adminstrators want black children to not be sucessful?  Are they not getting the same schooling as the other students in their classrooms?  It is almost as if the gaps are a result of things happening away from schools?  

  5. D65’s Hopes for Black Student Achievement

    Every time I read the mean spirited comments published by this newspaper, I am reminded of the Homeless Veteran who along with his dog sat at the corner of Main and Chicago Avenue. He had a sign that read: “The more I’m around the people, the more I like my dog”. I feel the same way after reading many of the Anonymous remarks your paper publishes.

    1. Just what about the comments

      Just what about the comments do you find objectionable or “mean spirited”?   Do you disagree with the talking points or the delivery?    Evanston welcomes diversity. That should include opinions.

    2. Mean spirited?

      Terri, I understand your frustration with the lack of black student achievement. Similar to many other people in Evanston, I have contributed significant time and resources to helping black students and other students reallize their potential and improve their academic performance.

      The point that I and many others highlight is that many programs, efforts and initiatives have been undertaken in the past but they haven’t delivered the hoped for results. Why is this the case?

      The latest “mirage” is that institutional racism is the reason for black student underachievement in Evanston. Our community has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and a lot of time, yet I and others don’t see the results. So now we’re supposed to sit back and accept spending on new initiatives and more meeting time and No questions asked or no goals or no nothing other than hope?

      I don’t think so.

      Our children, black, brown, purple, white deserve better. And so do taxpayers. I will support ANY program that produces results. I want black students, brown students, LGBTQ students, I want ALL students to succeed, to have opportunities, to feel like they matter. And I’m not alone. 

      Time goes by and it’s the kids who suffer from poorly planned and poorly executed strategies in our community. 

      Enough is enough.


  6. What is the annual cost of

    What is the annual cost of these two additions? If these newly created positions are necessary, compensation should be directly tied to results and hires should be on a contract basis only and not added to permanent staffing. 

    A much more cost effective and sensible approach would be to study the methods, patterns, and scholastic history of high achieving black students both current and former.  I am guessing that would reveal some rather fundamental answers.

  7. What the schools cannot do
    If the causes of lower minority [or anyones] scores:
    if financial, about all the schools probably can do is provide free/subsidized meals
    if homelessness, schools cannot do much or anything
    if discrimination, outside of the school building, the schools cannot do much or anything
    if parents unwilling or unable to help their children, the schools have little sway
    if parents mis-treat their children, about all the schools can do is call the police

    if students are discriminated [or bias] in school by teachers or staff, the administration must either correct them or fire them, no matter what the union says
    if the schools don’t provide equal/adequate resources and teachers to each school, the Administration is at fault and needs to be replaced
    if teachers are not able/willing to educate their students, they must be replaced—the purpose of schools is to educate the children, not provide jobs for teachers/administration
    The schools are there to educate, both in academics and behavior. If they fail, a big change is needed. Pouring more money in to try one thing after another has failed. Money is not the cure for everything—you have to look at and fix the real problem. The schools need to concentrate on complete education and go into it with the idea that all children can learn, not assume some [minorities] can’t keep-up and thus must be dumb’d-down education.
    Evanston is not like the huge Chicago system. There are only a few schools. If the mix/quality of teachers/facilities is not equal, the Superintend’s job is to fix it [i.e.shift resources] not to come up with new program that is just a sop to liberal minds.

  8. Don’t let Evanston schools sink into far left radicalism

    D65 and D202 is heading in the same direction as the Edina, Minnesota school district, which has become a public school social justice factory. Edina is an affluent suburb of Minnesota. Edina school leaders adopted an “All for All” strategic plan—a sweeping initiative that reordered the district’s mission from academic excellence for all students to “racial equity.” The All for All plan mandated that henceforth “all teaching and learning experiences” would be viewed through the “lens of racial equity,” and that only “racially conscious” teachers and administrators should be hired. District leaders assured parents this would reduce Edina’s racial achievement gap, which they attributed to “barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings.” It also became obsessed with white privilege. Sound familiar? Five years into this racial equity/social justice education and the results are poor. Math and reading scores dropped by several percentages. A course description of an 11th-grade U.S. Literature and Composition course puts it this way: “By the end of the year, you will have . . . learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytical . . .lenses to literature.” Consider that some students at Edina actually fled Marxists regimes such as Nicaragua and Velenzuela. Conservative groups at the high school filed a federal lawsuit against Edina, claiming the district has violated its members’ rights of free speech. They have been shouted down and threatened at sponsored events, one being veterans speaking at the school on Veterans Day. No surprise there. Are we in Evanston prepared to see our schools sink into the realm of intolerance of Marxism and far left ideaology that is essentially reverse discrimination? Before 2013, Edina was a highly respected top notch school district. Not anymore. Radical far left idealogues have taken over and are destroying their schools and community. Don’t let our kids become experiments of crazy intolerant leftists. 

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