Sunny skies and spring-like temperatures failed to deter more than 50 board members, staff, and community leaders from attending an all-day workshop Saturday at Evanston Township High School to exchange views on goals for the school and District 202.

The proceedings were moderated by Barbara B. Toney, director of field services for the Illinois Association of School Boards, who has worked off and on with ETHS over the past decade in a similar capacity, as she has with boards of many other districts in the state.

Barbara Toney of the Illinois Association of School Boards

She explained to the group that the board, in harmony with the community, sets the goals, while the staff, led by Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, develops strategies and specific plans for implementing the goals and participates in the measurements that determine whether those goals are being met.

She was introduced to the assemblage by School Board President Pat Savage-Williams, who called for the participants to “stay engaged, experience discomfort, speak their truth, and expect non-closure.”

District 202 Board President Savage-Willilams

Toney set the tone for the workshop by describing what she referred to as the “foundational principles of effective governance.”

A school board, she explained, clarifies the district purpose, connects with the community, employs a superintendent, delegates authority, monitors performance, and takes responsibility for itself.

“The school board’s role as trustee for the community is unique and essential to both the district and community,” she declared.

Six of the seven board members attended the workshop, and Toney advised them to sit at different tables in order to maximize their communication with community members.

Board member Jonathan Baum at one of the participant tables

As the workshop progressed, participants reviewed the board’s mission, as well as its equity and excellence statement, before discussing each of the draft goals and giving input for the board to consider.

Following today’s workshop, the board plans to schedule a special meeting to review and tweak its draft goals before a final vote at the April 11 board meeting.

Then it will be up to the superintendent and his staff to plan strategy and propose projects to address those goals.

Related story:

Community workshop Saturday on ETHS goals

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...

Join the Conversation


  1. What do top students and their parents think ?
    It would seem getting the students who score in the 85-95% [or even 100%] level of their classes, class ranking, test scores, or similar and their parents together and finding out what is “done right” and try to incorporate that into the operation of the school.
    I suspect parental influence, help with their children questions, exposure to resources, etc. will prove to be very important.
    Also what they see as outstanding programs and teachers.
    And of course some students may be so motivated that they want/will overcome any obstacle.
    While meeting with all parents [as is needed] as with this forum, is likely to include parents who feel their children are not treated fairly–real or imagined—as they see it or their children tell them. That is the problem colleges [high schools?] have with reviews of teachers—students that don’t do well give bad marks to even the best teachers.

    1. Teacher Reviews
      Agreed…..even the very best teachers sometimes cannot make a great student succeed. The many factors that involve educational success, often are found in the home, and within the child himself…..if parents are not supportive, or the child doesn’t have the inner drive, please don’t always blame the teacher…the system….the rules….etc……

    2. Bad students, good teachers?

      If a student does not achieve at expected levels, why is the teacher not held accountable?  It is easy to teach compliant, well-supported  students.  The best teachers figure out a way to connect with the average student..which is, by definition, most students.   

      The challenge at ETHS is that the vast middle is ignored with the hope that the highest achieving kids will deliver such great results that the entire sshool looks successful.

      1. Why the Teacher

        Perhaps should be held more acccountable for the children they raised. Ask them what they did in school  each day. Sit down with them and discuss class work. Set asside an hour a day to discuss. Have a family time away from technoligy (ceel pnones, computsers, social media) Just say NO to it all. Say YES to you chicdren and quit blaming the teachers and everyone else.

        1. Home environment
          I agree…but here is the sad part. Gone are the “Happy Days” of years ago, where moms were at home. Kids came home from school to at least one parent…TV and electronics were not prevalent….parents were “the boss” of what happened in their home, and knew their kids’ friends, where they were, sometimes had to initial homework, etc., etc., etc. There is a huge lack of guidance, purpose, and direction today…..some of it can’t be helped, but it IS up to parents to have boundaries, input, and love to go around….even if they have to work a lot. ….wish the Boys and Girls Clubs still existed.
          The other issue is that if kids cannot keep up with the minimum requirements for passing, then they need help, mentoring, and tutoring. I doubt there is enough of that to go around…then these kids fall through the cracks.

          1. Helping students help each other

            You wrote: "The other issue is that if kids cannot keep up with the minimum requirements for passing, then they need help, mentoring, and tutoring. I doubt there is enough of that to go around…then these kids fall through the cracks."

            I don't know if this would work for high school students, but a U.Cal Berkeley math prof. found that he could [more than] raise the grades of the black student by making the class and exam work so tough they had to study together. The Asian students studied together and quizzed each other; they did not study longer than black students. The project was more than successful. For all the talk about needing branch libraries [where students would not be able to talk/quiz, what about more study space at ETHS, EPL-Main [anyone who has been on the 3rd floor would know the Loft is not conducive to group or individual study and the tables outside the Loft are not much better], or other provisions. And maybe have teachers and locals, paid or unpaid if willing, at EPL/other to help with questions. 

            Since so many people think Robert Crown would be a good branch library, why not set aside space for studying [group or individual]—that might be a good test of the need/desire for a branch—maybe convert the Twig or a 'study only' [no books] center ? Speaking of branches, what happened with the branch that was on Simpson ? Its failure might give insight to what would be needed for a branch.

      2. Two examples of great teachers

        There are many great teachers but here are two examples.

        This CBS report is about a LA AP Calculus teacher—all his students passed.


        Of course Jaime Escalante is another great example [mathematics]—here one who taught students in what would be considered one of the toughest area.  His story was the subject of the movie "Stand and Deliver".  The sad thing is the school then thought they could "improve" on is methods [and probably type of teacher], he was forced out and the classes returned to their sub-par performance.


        Unfortunately little recognition, esp. in the press, is given to great teachers.   How many ETHS teachers have had stories about them in Evanston press ? [Given what you can see from their Web pages, they don't seem to help themselves get their story out.] We get a lot of stories about ETHS drama, music but not much about the sciences–prize winners, contests, research. [yes I did see the story about the observatory].

    3. Not sure what you’re saying here

      I'm not sure what you're saying, there seem to be verbs missing from several sentences. I attended the meeting (I'm the white-haired, blue-sleeved woman in the top photo) as a member of a community nonprofit (OPAL). I think people usually examine goals as a first step toward improving what isn't working, and not as much to look at what's working, because for that the goals are probably okay. You seem to be suggesting that some parents are only imagining that their kids aren't getting equitable treatment, when I'm pretty sure there's statistical evidence of an achievement gap, and maybe you're saying the gap is the fault of the struggling students and their parents, is that a fair summary? 

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.