For years, Evanston Township High School has struggled with what officials describe as an “achievement gap” between white and African-American students. The school recently held a Black Male Summit to help close that gap.

At a meeting Monday night, the ETHS District 202 School Board heard a report on the results of that summit, including a survey of the respondents that gave it good reviews.

It is not that black students are not among the high-achievers at the school, the board was told, as one in four black males have made the honor roll this school year, and nearly one in three black male students have met or exceeded standards in reading on the Prairie State Achievement Exam.

The problem is that this performance is substantially less than that of the student body as a whole, with 55 percent making the honor roll and 67 percent meeting or exceeding reading standards on the PSAE.

The daylong summit, held during school hours, attracted 412 students out of the school’s 507 who are identified as black or multiracial with black listed as one of their identities, according to Assistant Superintendent/Principal Marcus Campbell.

Some 344 responded to a survey on the meeting, on which 73 percent rated the summit as “excellent,” and 22 percent as “very good,” Campbell reported.

He added, in a memo to Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, that “we hope to use this as a model to address issues facing other constituent groups in our school.”

The board was effusive in its praise of the program.

Mark Metz said the administration and board should be congratulated “for having the courage and vision to make such a bold move.”

Bill Geiger said that, as a result of the summit, “young black men are now an asset for Evanston.”

And Doug Holt said that such a well-planned and well-executed event “brings credit to the school.”

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...

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  1. Confused

    As a result of the summit, "young black men are now an asset for Evanston, says D202 Board member Bill Geiger.

    So before the summit, am I to presume "young black men" were not an asset for Evanston? 

    1. As a result

      "As a result" yes, I noticed that as well.  I'm going to try and not read into that too much.  My son did attend and loved it.  Well done!

    2. Mr.Geiger,

      Mr.Geiger, Your statement that "ALL young black males are now an asset", I found to be very offensive. Regardless if this summit was held or not this comment suggests otherwise. They didn't need this forum to feel or be validated. You should focus on how , you as a male can influence these young men into the right direction to help them to become successful in society. What tools that they will need to stay focused. I think you owe them and the community an apology for that statement.

  2. Say What?

    "The day long summit, held during school hours"… tells me that instead of being in classes, these students are at a "feel good" meeting.  No wonder why they gave the "summit" such high marks.

  3. No parental consent required

    The reality is the principal decided to, at his leisure, make all the black male students attend this forum w/out parental consent, which I have an issue with, because my son is black and trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA. The parents should have had the right to decide whether or not we felt this was an important enough event to pull children from their classes. In my son's case (Honors Courses) I can tell you it isn't and wasn't!

    1. Congratulations to you and your son

      Obtaining and maintaining a 4.0 GPA for a student in Honors Courses is a terrific achievement and should be celebrated by the Administration and Staff and Community. Time is of the essence and taking a student out of the classroom for any reason should be done with great care and consideration. Sounds like your son didn't think this program was a good use of his time. Very unfortunate. (I hope he and/or you give specific feedback to the Administration so it gets improved)

      Hopefully other students found this event useful and hopefully this summit showcased the multiple and various opportunities available to all students to enable them to become successful students and citizens at ETHS. Our community spends over $20,000 per ETHS student and offers many and varied programs to help students succeed including AM Support, a new student lounge called "The Hub" where academic supports are provided, after school programs, WildKit Academy on some Saturdays and programs including AVID and STAE.The array of programs is stunning, so hopefully more students and families will recognize that the greater Evanston Community wants all students to succeed. (Maybe the Board should ask if these programs are working well, or need improvement)

      "Something" is working for your son at ETHS and hopefully the  Board and Administration will ask you and your son the "secret" to his success so that more students of color, and all color and gender can succeed at ETHS.

      Congratulations again to you and your son. You should be proud of his accomplishments.


      1. Where does success come from ?

        The schools want to claim credit when students do well but blame poverty, family, society when students do poorly.

        But what causes success ?  How much is the schools credit ?  Certainly the students desire and drive is important.  But how much 'education' is from the school ?  from the parents making sure they study, keep reasonable hours, turn off the TV and game playing, restrict phone/texting ? from getting them tutors if they cannot help with questions or move them to the next level of classes ? from taking college or online courses [Kahn or other] ?

    2. Summit Not Mandatory

      The Black Summit was NOT mandatory.  A letter to parents went out in the mail at least 2 weeks prior to the event.  I got mine, did you get yours?  Our son is also in Honors Courses and we decided as a family it was an important to learn about the male mentors and organizations who support black children in our community.

      I also know several mentors who volunteered their time to work with the children that day.  The consensus was that the children were engaged and provided open dialogue during the breakout sessions. Definitley a step in the right direction.

      If you have other ideas on how to improve the ETHS experience for black children (outside of classroom time) join the next EBAN meeting November 12 at 6:30 p.m.

  4. ETHS Discrimination

    This progam is discrimination.  It was only based on the color of one's skin and the gender of the individual.  It was not about student achievment- high , low and middle achievers attended.  It was not based on income- high, middle and low income students were in attendence.  Scott Rochelle said any student could attend howver look at the name.  The BLACK MALE SUMMiT is not open and welcoming to other races or genders.  If this was called the Arab female summit or the white male summit there would have been an outcry.  Is ETHS saying black females wouldn't benefit from meeting mentors like a black female doctor. black female professor or a black female firefighter?  Is ETHS saying Hispanic males wouldn't benefit from a program like this, where they too can see role models and told they matter?  This program is based on gender and skin color only.  ETHS is walking on very thin ice.  Look what happened in ANN Arbor when they held a field trip like this.  Ann Arbor schools were found to be in violation of the law.  ETHS's program takes this discrimination a step further.  ETHS also discriminates for gender.   Better watch Title nine.  Prince George County in Maryland gets it right.  Look at there program  Here is a quote from thheir program that ETHS could benefit from “It is so important, not just for African American and Latino children,” Baker said about men participating in a child’s education. “It’s important for all children. It is important that we send a message that we care.”  I certainly hope ETHS announces the dates for programs of this caliber to be held for all other students.  I expect the same attention for all.

    1. ETHS black male summit

      If the playing field were level in the first place, which it is not, there would be no need for this type of program for African American Males. African American students don't now, nor have they ever gotten the same treatment as white students. That is why there is a schools to prison pipeline, designed especially for students of color. African Americans are approx. 13% of the population in this country, yet African Americans are 70% of the prison population, that is no accident, the system is designed that way.

      When was the last time you saw a white unarmed child gunned down by the police that are sworn to protect and serve? My guess is never!

      JA you need to wake up and smell the coffee, that is unless you're an admitted racist, and if you are an admitted racist then I totally understand why you said what you said.

      1. Race-based preferential treatment

        I see you're quick playing the race card.

        Ever hear of Dylan Taylor or John Winkler? They were two unarmed white males shot and killed this year on the street by police.

        While protestors looted and rioted in Ferguson, Taylor, a soon-to-be father, was shot as he walked out of a 7-11 by a minority police officer in Salt Lake City. Winkler was killed by police in Los Angeles.

        You're right, the playing field isn't level at ETHS. The Black Male Summit is just one of many examples of how some students receive prefential treatment based on skin color. I could go on all day about all the race-based programs at ETHS that primarily benefits students of a particular race. There's even an African-American honor roll at ETHS. It can be argued that some students are more equal than others.

        How come you didn't mention that imprisoned African-Americans were CONVICTED in the court of law? The judicial "system"is not the reason why 70 percent of the prison population is black. The so-called school-to-prison pipeline is in part a result of race hucksters that peddle the myth that African Americans are victims who don't enjoy "white privilege." That message provides a false sense of injustice to young impressionable youth who by nature act out at any perceived injustice. If you have teenagers you know what I'm talking about.  Also to blame is a gang subculture that has matured in the black communities across the nation with its own music, lingo, dress style and attitude.

        ETHS administrators for at least two generations now have been whining about "filling the gap." The problem is NOT racial. It is the proliferation of single parent households.  Unfortunately, the majority of African-American students in Evanston come from single parent households, which is the No. 1 indicator of poverty.

        I have no big beef with the intention of the Black Male Summit (I do with PEG). But the unintendend consquences is dividing students based on race and ethnicity. I have been told by several ETHS students that the seating in the high school lunchroom is mostly split based on race. Gosh, I wonder why?

        Is it more important to be proud that you're an American or proud that you're an African-American?

        Do you enjoy the diversity Evanston offers? How does the Black Male Summit celebrate diversity?

        1. Red Herring in the ETHS Cafeterias

          Black friends sit together in the cafeteria, and white kids do the same, because they want to be with and identify with their friends, not because of racism or prejudice toward each other. Being with the people you identify with is important for kids in this age group, and I wish people would quit making the high school cafeteria the focal point of racial understanding. It's for eating and socializing during the school day.

    2. Separate may not produce equal

      It is generally accepted that people need support groups but care must be taken. There is debate about single gender schools and classes even where they seem to help in the sciences—mostly, it is felt so women will not feel pressure to not speak up, but when you get to dividing by race or ethnicity, you start to get into some real problems. In universities like Northwestern you may have groups like a Latin American Engineering Students but the purpose is to ‘network’ and help find jobs—and yes some support of knowing they are not alone but that should be clear by the number of them in a program. But it is possible that in engineering and the sciences the majority are of Asian descent. How would a ‘Caucasian Engineering Students’ group go over ? If the assumption is true, and in engineering and science it would be questionable, that companies are headed by ‘whites’, then does it make sense for minorities to separate themselves ? Would it not be better to instead make a visible presence in organizations comprised of multi-racial, multi-ethnic or even ‘heavily white’ if those are where the jobs are, managers of tomorrow, etc. ? Recently there was a new segment about some of the problems students who had graduated form one of the highly regarded Chicago ‘Prep’ schools where all(?) students were black and had a high if not perfect college acceptance rate. From the story it seemed academic preparation was not the issue—it was real or perceived view that they did not ‘fit in’ and wondering about support. Most students of any race or ethnic group feel that to some degree in finding college is not like high school. But coming from a [100%] homogenous high school can only make it harder. The bottom line is if you expect you may be a minority in college, make connections and understand other groups before you get to college or on the job. Fair or un-fair [or true or not] candidates must understand management much more than management must understand them—at least until the proportions/power in colleges/business change.

  5. Who opened this Pandora’s Box?

    The article states that according to Marcus Campbell, Assistant Superintendent/Principal, "we hope to use this as a model to address issues facing other constituent groups in our school"  O.K., who are the other constituent groups?  Will he give specific dates for these summits?  Will ETHS allow the Evanston cable TV channel to broadcast these summits?  If all students are invited to attend, what happens if the entire student body decides to attend? What exactly was discussed during this summit?  How do the students who attended make up for what was taught in class that day?  I'll hold my breath while waiting for Superintendent Eric Witherspoon's reply.

    1. Black Male Summit

      My name is Kevin Brown and I am one of 160 men who attended the Summit. It was a multiracial event and there were even some females that attended. The Summit was a tremendous learning opportunity for all and extremely affirming. When I was a master at the Lawrenceville School many years ago, we held similar types of events and activities. That school is one of the best high schools on the planet and it is wonderful to see Evanston Township High School following this type of pedagogy. Kudos to Superintendent Witherspoon and to the supportive members of the School Board. It was the right thing at the right time. Well done! We need more. Also, It is more decent and respectful in community if we identify ourselves. I think we get better dialogue and can work towards working out our differences.

      1. Let’s be clear with the facts

        Why do you feel the need to minipulate the truth.  Lawerenceville is a private school, ETHS is a public school-there is a differance.  Yes, there were multiethnic students in attendance, however they had to self-identify as Black males.  There were non-black adult mentors present but they had to be male.  The females were not students of ETHS and could not be mentors.

  6. A Limerick for 202
    A Limerick for 202

    A school named E-T-H-S
    Had gaps on all of the tests.
    “Corral the black males-
    All of whom we have failed!”
    ‘Twas a public relations mess.

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