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Fewer voters are turning out on each day of early voting in this year’s election in Evanston compared to two years ago.

And, with early voting offered on five fewer days this year, it appears the total early vote this year will be far below the total of 1,265 two years ago.

As of 10 o’clock this morning, the turnout in Evanston totalled 561 voters. The daily average so far is running just under 55 voters this year, compared to almost 62 voters on the average day in 2011 — a drop of about 12 percent.

Voting numbers did pick up in the last few days of early voting two years ago, and there’s some sign of an increase in numbers this week as the April 6 deadline approaches.

Eighty-six voters cast ballots yesterday, compared to 45 on the first day, March 25.

But total early voting turnout last time was nearly three percent of Evanston’s more than 44,000 registered voters, and it seems likely it will be less than half that this year.

In 2011 voters faced contested elections for both the District 65 and District 202 school boards — but no city races.

This year voters only have a choice of candidates in the District 202 school race. But they also have contested races for three city council seats and for township supervisor.

For voters who don’t choose to participate in early voting, election day is next Tuesday, April 9.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

  1. Think Before You Vote

    My children went to school in District 65.  They graduated from ETHS.  I served on the District 65 School Board when they were little, and I have been an attentive supporter of our schools for all of the 40+ years I have lived in Evanston.  I took all of these experiences with me when I voted early in the District 202 School Board election last week.

    Reasonable and honorable intelligent ment and women can and do disagree.  When those disagreements take place around issues affecting our schools, they should give rise to vigorous and thorough public debate.  As a School Board Member, I learned that vigorous, transparent discussions are important components of sound and responsible decision making, and therefore support the best interests of our children and our community.

    Some School Board candidates have already expressed their support for expanding the current "earned honors" restructuring model beyond Freshman Humanities and Biology as soon as the Superintendent proposes doing that.  The same candidates have expressed their full support for the controversial methods on addressing racism coming from the Pacific Education Group (PEG).  Some have even said these issues are not for the School Board to decide at all.  These candidates seem to believe the School Board should defer to the Superintendent on all matters having to do with our children's education.

    I believe it is the job of the School Board to question, discuss, and evaluate all of the Superintendent's proposals and recommendations, in public, as required by the Sunshine Laws.  I believe carrying out those critical obligations is the reason we elect a lay board whose most important job is to hire and oversee the superintendent, and to hold him/her accountable for his/her judgement and accomplishment of the Board's goals.

    I voted early for candidates who have declared their commitment to honest, transparent, public deliberations, and who will require real and factual information on in place programs before those programs are expanded on the basis of a hypothetically projected success.

    I voted for Andy Bezaitis, Deborah Graham, and Doug Holt.  I hope you will support these candidates with your vote on (or before) Tuesday, April 9th!

    Mary Anne Wexler

    1. Change is difficult

      Ms Wexler,

      I know that change can be hard,  However to improve, we must not be afraid to change with the times.  In the words of the Roundtable "Educating all our students, from high-achieving ones to struggling ones, cannot help but better this community".  I commend the administration in it's attempts to better educate all of our children and will vote for the candidates who look to support this goal, not look for excuses to turn the clock back.    I will be voting for Elena Garcia Asani, Bill Geiger, Pat Savage-Williams and Casey Miller.

      I, too, implore voters to "think before they vote".  Do we want to move forward for all kids or continue to offer the best only to a few?

      long time Evanstonian

      1. You want smart kids in Evanston?

        Well…if you do want smart kids in Evanston, then you need to think about the 1st ward alderman's race, not the Board of Education races.

        Alderman Junad Fiske doesn't like Northwestern students.  She doesn't want them renting on Central Street or Emerson Street.  She doesn't like renters in general, and prefers single family houses.

        I say:  if you have an degree in EE  , I hope that you stay in Evanston.  The same for chemistry, computer science, and biotech degrees.  Grad students too.

        If we want educated young people to stay in or come to  Evanston, they need to be able to find a place to live, like downtown apartments.

      2. Your position is utter nonesense

        You're making the same tired and specious argument I've heard from some of the candidates you support.  Specifically, you're asserting that ETHS has been providing students in non-honors courses with a subpar education.  That's actually a very damning critique of Witherspoon.  And if that's the case, we should examine the root causes of that injustice.  Sadly, though, you're simply using this statement as a rhetorical device to assert that only "honors" courses are "excellent" and therefore everybody should be placed in honors courses.  In other words, you want to continue the one-size-fits-all approach to classroom structure that D65 uses for grades K-8.   But that hasn't been shown to eliminate the achievement gap so why do you think it will have that effect at ETHS?  

        You should really read more studies on how students learn.  For example, this recent article from The Atlantic describes exactly what has been happening in Evanston where the laudable goal of "equity" has resulted in a situation where teachers are expected to teach students with diverse backgrounds and abilities in the same classroom using "differentiated instruction."  But at the high school level, with 42 minutes of class time, the very nature of differentiated instruction means that some students are neglected while the needs of others are addressed.   More significantly, the article describes how ability grouping and tracking actually benefit students (high, middle and lower achievers).  Isn't that the end goal?  More notably, as President Obama has emphatically stated, as a nation and community we need to focus on early education if we are serious about tackling the achievement gap.  Data in this regard is longstanding and undisputed.  Sadly, though, the administration undermines these efforts by ignoring the underlying data and instead blaming the achievement gap on "institutional racism."   Unless you're an extreme idealogue, I don't see how anyone can support such practices.

        Finally, it's significant to note that you do not support Gretchen Livingston who voted for both the earned honors Humanities and Biology proposals.   Why is that?   Is it simply because she asked questions and asked that this new and untested program be evaluated by Dr. David Figlio?   

  2. What kind of change do they support?

    I am perplexed by Anonymous' Change is Difficult statement.

    Yes, change is difficult.  I have followed all candidates discussion and Ansani, Geiger, Miller and Savage-Williams  seem to support ANY change, change for the sake of change like current board members R Hayman and the current Board president.

    Have you been able to understand what kind of change they support and why, beyond "all children should learn" and "equal opportunity"? In my opinion, those candidates don't have a position or ideas of their own; they just support anything the Supt proposes, at any cost.

    We need board members who can consider data, compare/contrast , and are not afraid to question, not because they want to battle but because they want to work through the problems tough as that might be. It seems our Evanston students deserve the debate.

  3. Change is also imperfect

    I understand that this is difficult for you.  It is easy to find flaws with change.  I remember the challenges of integrating our schools in "liberal" Evanston.  Regardless of how many articles you dig up or rhetoric you use, change is coming in education – all of education.  It is no longer considered acceptable to segregate children by ability.  Welcome to the new world.  You can choose to support those who offer no solutions but lots of criticism or those who are working to better education across the board.  The choice is yours.

  4. The Devil is in the Details – let’s get it right

    No candidate is opposed to increasing student achievment for all.  

    But inspiring rhetoric does not improve student achievment.  And supporting good intentions without a solid foundation is no way to make progress in this community.

    Let's assume – for arguement's sake – that the freshman restructuring, which provides all children reading at grade level with the same opportunity to succeed and thrive academically (as defined by GPA and access to AP classes) is for kids of all races, genders and abilities.

    Sounds nice.   So – I have a son.   He's got some significant learning differences / disabilities which prevent him from testing well and makes school really challenging.  He has the ability to perform in the top, but struggles. 

    He is a victim of low expectations.  

    D65 doesn't ask much of him and passes him right through.   Last year he had 3 F's right before year's end and then managed to pull out B's and C's … I have no idea how.

    So – this new Freshman restructuring should be perfect for him.  D202 would give him a fresh start.   He'd have someone believing he could perform at high levels….. and he'd have the support to succeed.   Right?

    The only problem is – D65 hasn't asked him to do much in the way of reading and writing.   The teachers are okay with 3 word answers instead of full sentences – in 7th grade – because he's verbal learner.  Which may be good pedogogy, but it's not going to help him be prepared for freshman year.  

    Last week at a D65 IEP meeting for him – I asked the staff how his standardized scores were for reading.   I was told not to put too much stock in a single assessment taken on a single day.  He was currently scoring just above the 50% percentile.   

    I asked the D65 staff – what benchmark would be used for entrance into Earned Honors freshman year?  Was it based on one test on one specific date?   I was told, yes – they believed it was the Explore, but they weren't sure if the 40th or 50th percentile was the cut off. 

    I asked the D65 staff what sort of support my son whould have so that he could have a successful experience freshman year in Humanities and Biology?   They couldn't asnwer that quesiton and suggested that the case worker next year would know more about it.

    LET'S MAKE THIS FRESHMAN RESTRUCTURING WORK!!!   It's a great idea.   Do it right. Don't just move forward blindly because it make you feel good.   DO GOOD.   If this freshman restructuring is going to succeed then our community's resources need to be aligned, everyone needs to be on the same page and we need to make actual progress.   We have no idea if this just sounds good or actually works.

    We need data.   We need to see some results.   Before we move forward with restructuring the High School  – let's make sure we're serving those children for whom this was intended.   Those children for whom we've developed low expectations – regardless of race, gender or learning differences.   We can make it about race, but I think it's bigger than that.

    I want someone on the school board who will look critically and make this school work – for everyone.  If we peg kids before they've had a chance to prove themselves, then we've failed as a community.   If we fail to give them the foundation and support to succeed, than will have failed them not once but twice.

    Vote –  I'm voting for Doug Holt, Andy Bezitis and a couple more 

    1. Huh?

      So instead of voting for the candidates who clearly want to make earned honors work, you are voting for those who find any excuse for it to fail?

      1. You simply don’t understand

        I'm a left-of-center person, a true liberal, who loves Evanston for all its rich diversity.  The same can be said of Holt and Bezaitis who want to break down legitimate barriers to achievement and help ALL students succeed.  What distinguishes Doug and Andy, however, is that they want to make informed decisions to improve educational outcomes.  Thus, as Jane suggests, they will look at the details to identify the positives and any potential negative consequences to the earned honors model.  In that manner, this program can be revised as necessary to ensure that it actually works to improve everyone's educational outcomes.   That, after all, is the goal.

        Oddly, people like you seem to reject this logical approach and are upset that David Figlio is conducting an evaluation of the program.  Rachel Hayman, Martha Burns and, of course, Mark Metz all wanted to rubber stamp this proposal without any definition of "success" or any means of evaluating the program.  To her credit, Gretchen Livingston brought in Dr. Figlio to undertake this review on behalf of the community.  Now, amazingly, Gretchen is apparently being spurned by Metz, Savage-Williams, Frutransky and others because of her actions — even though she voted for all the earned honors proposals!   Why is that?  Don't we want board members who will actually do there jobs to ensure that metrics exist to measure student performance (and, in turn, the performance of the administration)?

        Doug and Andy are not hostile to the earned honors program by any measure.  Rather, like Gretchen, they advocate asking tough questions and seeking out relevant data in order to do their jobs so that ETHS students receive the best possible education.   And the only reason I can imagine why anyone would reject this approach is that they're simply pursuing an ideological goal that they fear will be undermined by an objective evaluation of the program. 

      2. For Bezaitis and Holt

        The reason why that voter is choosing those candidates is because these candidates also want success and are willing to look at the data, LISTEN to the teachers (not just administrators), on how to make the earned honors system work.  The other candidates that you are referring to don't seem to have a course of action except to go along with the administration's point of view without scrutiny.  We need people on the board who will listen to parents, community, teachers, as well as administrators.  I am voting for Andy and Doug, specifically for these reasons.

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