Following a spirited discussion that bordered on a shouting match, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board reluctantly agreed Monday night to review the district’s efforts to prepare its students for success in college and careers.

Following a spirited discussion that bordered on a shouting match, the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board reluctantly agreed Monday night to review the district’s efforts to prepare its students for success in college and careers.

Just before the board adjourned an otherwise short and serene meeting, member Tracy Quattrocki asked that a discussion of career and college readiness be placed on the agenda of a future board meeting.

Her request was opposed by member Kim Weaver, who contended the issue had been discussed enough already. In the ensuing melee, charges were made that the district had cherry-picked favorable data (one member called it “misleading”) that appears on the district’s website, particularly as it applies to achievement of African-American students.

Superintendent Hardy Murphy defended the published data as an accurate depiction of test results, as reported by the Stanford Achievement Test, edition 10, and Weaver said it is only wise to put the best light on the figures when reporting them on the district’s website. “It’s what any company would do,” she said.

Board President Keith Terry, who described the board’s discussion as “dysfunctional,” promised to place the issue on the agenda of a future board meeting, as Quattrocki requested. The board then adjourned the meeting, and members quickly left the building. 

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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18 Comments

  1. So it’s gotten to this…

    Board members now are defending D65 for providing cherry-picked, misleading data because that’s the way it’s done in business. Sure– why should we the taxpayers actually be provided with the other (more reliable and valid) data that indicate that the picture isn’t nearly as rosy as depicted. Maybe it’s also time to give another contract extension to the superintendent. Don’t forget to vote in the upcoming Board election!

  2. This is why the high school had to eliminate honors only

    D65 continues to claim "high expectations for all students" but judges itself on the lowest possible standard.

    If they are doing so well, why does the high school end up with mostly white kids eligible for the straight honors program. You may have read that it has to do with irate parents calling to badger the HS into letting their kids into straight honors, but the reality is that most of the kids got in because they performed well.

    And D65 does not adequately prepare lower income kids, but claims it does. Why should parents and community members have to file freedom of information act requests to get aggregate results (note- no individual student’s privacy at stake) that allow for apples-to-apples comparisons?

    Why cherry pick? We need some new board members who truly want all of our children to be ready for college-even if they choose not go.

  3. Vote early, if not often

    Okay, it’s Evanston, not Chicago, so you only get to vote once.  But VOTE!  And VOTE EARLY. Remember that this year, as in past years, the election takes place during D65’s spring break. You can vote early beginning March 14. If you choose not to vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.

  4. We need a methodic, rational board ready to collaborate

    Board member finger pointing and personal agendas must be set aside and the D65 school board must adopt a more systematic approach to identifying, prioritizing, researching and solving critical issues with transparency and collaboration. The focus should be and always remain educating ALL Evanston kids to the very best of our collective ability; not small town political agendas. Don’t forget to VOTE.

  5. Evanston Now+National Enquirer

    The meeting I saw  showed some innovatiions at Nichols and some new ideas around summer school.

    Where is this in your reporting?  You have chosen to report 15 minutes of a 2 hour meetiing.

    1. What’s interesting?

      If you "saw" the meeting, that implies you were able to sit through the entire thing on cable TV.

      Congratulations on that.

      For people who don’t have that stamina, the role of journalism is to tell people the most interesting stuff that happens in town. In our reporter’s judgment, the dispute over performance standards was the most important item from the meeting, and so our story focused on that.

      — Bill

      1. I was glad to see the story

        I was glad to see the story reported at all.   I guessed the district would somehow remove the video from the local cable channel to prevent further embarrassment.   If anything, your reporter downplayed the personal attack on Tracey Quattrocki by Hardy Murphy.  I couldn’t believe how unprofessionally he reacted in personally attacking her when Ms. Quattrocki questioned in a very analytical way the posting on D 65’s website of one set of test results over two others.  My daughter said it best, "this is better than reality TV."  

        1. Smart and Tenacious

          We’re so fortunate to have Tracy Quattrocki serving on the D65 School Board!  She’s smart, diplomatic and tenacious.  She does her homework and has consistently advocated for the District to raise its standards of performance for D65 students.  BRAVO!!  Why should the Superintendent and some other members of the Board feel so threatened by this? 

          I have a hard time understanding where readiness for college or a career diverge for K-12 students.  They are one in the same thing.  Standards for college readiness exist.  Use those measures!  Stop playing games with data.  We shouldn’t be working so hard to create the illusion of a highly functioning school system in Evanston.  Rather, we should be creating a highly functioning school system.

          Be sure to vote!   If you’re not in town during Spring Break, vote early.

          1. Embarrasing D65 Board

            I watched the exchange between Tracy Quattrocki and Dr. Murphy. His accusation that Mrs. Quatrocki was "biased against African-american students" was offensive at best. In my view, even worse was the lack of action from board President, Keith Terry, who should have stopped what was a personal attack from Dr. Murphy on one of his fellow board members. Shame on all the board members for becoming bystanders in a situation in which the Superintendent was completely out of line and was not even asked to apologize for his words.

            Additionally, as a minority, it offends me that Dr. Murphy rushes to play the race card when someone has a different point of view than his. Most of us minorities who are trying to get a good education for our children don’t need this kind of "help."

          2. I couldn’t agree more

            Raul, thank you for your comments! I agree with everything you said — especially that Keith Terry should have stopped the attack on Ms. Quattrocki. Even though I heard about this board meeting from others, when I actually saw the replay on video I was horrified. I don’t understand how Dr. Murphy turned a simple request to examine the differing test results into being an issue of racial discrimination.

            If I were Ms. Quattrocki, I would want an apology — and frankly, it should be a public one. People serving on the school board work way too hard (on completely volunteered time) to be treated so rudely, especially when they are just trying to make sure that the district is doing everything it can to support the needs of all of its students.

  6. Disgraceful

    I think it’s shameful for Ms. Weaver to suggest that our school district should present misleading information on the district’s website.

    Whether or not I accept her contention that "that is what companies do," is D65 a company soliciting new customers for its product? No – it is a publicly financed educational institution. If I am mislead by a company and I try their product and don’t like it, I can stop buying it. If it’s faulty, I can return it for a refund. Can I take my kid out of D65 and go elsewhere? Not if I can’t afford private school. Can I get a refund on my kid’s shoddy education? No.

    Perhaps Ms. Weaver doesn’t understand her role as a board member. She is not there to promote the well-being of the school district, she is there to ensure the well-being of the students. The data shows that D65 is not adequately preparing its students for high school and beyond. Ms. Weaver (and Dr. Murphy) should welcome an opportunity to address the isssue, not browbeat Ms. Quattrocki for asking the question.

    If the City of Evanston can create a "transparency" website, why not District 65?

  7. Superintendent’s attack

    Hardy Murphy’s attack on Tracy Quattrocki was incredibly unprofessional and mean spirited.  I have been hoping there would be some sort of apology issued from the superintendent’s office – to no avail obviously.  I wish this "incident" had been more publicized so that others could see Dr. Murhpy and how he "colloborates" in action.

  8. Disgraceful indeed

    Was I watching the same meeting?  Clearly Ms. Quattrocki was suggesting that the scores were "misleading" and that the African American students are not truly performing as well as their test scores indicate. It is these students who should be offended by Ms. Quattrocki!   Dr. Hardy, who has the research to back him up, stated that some of the tests are misleading in the way of underestimating the skills and college readiness of those same students.  His focus was on responding to the issue she raised – test bias and whether the test scores the district is using accurately represent student achievement within  our schools.   He contradicted her assessment, but did not personally attack her in any way.   This entire discussion is exactly what Dr. Hardy warned against in his essay on college readiness.  What is disgraceful is that his on Board has failed to heed his warning.

    1. Please re-watch the video

      If I heard Ms. Quattrocki correctly (and i've watched the video 3 times) she asked for an agenda item to discuss test results.

      Different tests measure different issues and it is important for all children and parents to understand how their children are developing – what are their strengths and weaknesses – how can they improve in order to reach their potential.

      This is in the interests of ALL students. The public has been deceived before and numbers can be manipulated to "support" and "justify" a position.

      It is the board's responsibility to fully understand the implications. Currently they do not as demonstrated by their questions during the meeting and in my subsequent conversations with some board members. They CAN NOT fully explain the differences.

      Ask former board members of Enron & Worldcom – 2 Fortune 500 companies what happens when you don't fully understand the numbers – they're bankrupt and out of business. Ask Evanston City Council members past and present what happens when you don't fully understand the numbers. Our Police and Fire unfunded liabilities exploded from $50mm a decade ago to over $175mm today. Taxpayers are liable for all this debt.

      What are the implications for our students re: test results? (At this time, I'm not saying the tests are misleading, or the administration is misleading the public) I'm saying the board should fully review, analyze and understand the tests and results.

      Why is this so important? It's important because you can't make up for lost time. If students aren't prepared in 3rd grade how are they going to be successful in 5th grade – they just fall further and further behind – and the probability of quitting school increases.

      The public has been told for several years that students were making progress – (all subgroups) based on the ISATS. Finally, after significant public questioning and newspaper articles(local and national) District 65 School Board and Administration acknowledged that the tests were made easier in order to more easily comply with No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

      Thank you Illinois State Board of Education. Yes, several other states did the same thing in order to get federal money, but is Illinois government related to lemmings? Since we have been misled before, we should not allow this to happen again.

      Addressing the racial context of this discussion is also important. Where are the Latinos ? Never once did Dr. Murphy acknowledge his concern for Latinos nor did he mention Latinos during the meeting. Watch and listen to the video again. Read his article in the Evanston RoundTable – NEVER does he mention Latinos.

      As superintendent of a diverse community, Dr. Murphy has a responsibility to ALL students and especially for students and families who need extra help (albeit, black, white, brown, special needs, low income etc). His job is NOT to focus solely on one group of students in our community.

  9. wow – Hardy Murphy was out of line

    First, I want to thank Evanston Now for publishing this article. As a parent of 4 young children in the district I'm not always at liberty to follow board meetings even though they are important. Having the highlights reported is invaluable. I also appreciate evanstondad posting the video to youtube. I am amazed at Hardy Murphy's actions and words. He should have issued a formal public apology to Ms. Quattrocki immediately. Ms. Quattrocki was responding to the community and their concerns which were brought to her attention. Perhaps if more of the board members listened to the community and followed through with election promises we as parents would not be as frustrated and disappointed in their actions.

    I am also so tired of race being an issue. The children of district 65 are treated equally in the classroom. They receive the same education. The good teachers are committed to each child regardless of race. Each child, through differentiated instruction, receives assistance where needed. Or, on the flip side, are challenged to keep them engaged with more difficult material. Can the burden be shifted to the parents/guardians of these under achieving students for once? If a child's parent does not care regardless of their race, income level, education level that child will not feel the support or expectation to perform well. If they are not well rested, they will not perform well. If because the child doesn't care because the parent/guardian/adult in their home life does not care, the child will not perform well. Pretending to care doesn't cut it. Other people caring about how well your child does doesn't cut it. If for whatever reason a person cannot give the support necessary to a child the district and the Evanston community have so many resources in place for that individual to get assistance. We have to remember that there is only so much we can do. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Oh, and puffing is not acceptable in reporting test results. Not only does it hurt the district's reputation it also gives students and teachers a false sense of accomplishment for something they have not acheived.

    I hope District 65 residents will truly look at the candidates running and come out to VOTE. I also hope that folks send their support to board members like Ms. Quattrocki so that she will know that her work and strength is appreciated.

  10. Facilitating readiness

    In my 30 years of teaching–K through post-graduate, I can say that I have never met any individual who has ever been able to say he or she has had more than 3-5 good teachers over a life-time. A sad statement about our schools. Teaching is no easy feat– and it grows more difficult every year thanks to burdensome demands from bureaucratically-inclined politicians and administrators fueled by fears of litigation in a tort-ridden society. But too much blame has been placed on society, children, lawyers, parents, curriculum, politicians, unions, you-name-it—and seldom enough blame on teachers and school administrators themselves. It is time for these actors to take good looks in the mirrors too. I can't respond to the alleged altercations alluded to above–I no longer live in Evanston, much less the United States. But I can agree that there is no room or need for racial divides and this includes the kinds of social constructions that are perpetuated through such devices as school report cards that qualify and quantify children according to race as though they were members of a local kennel club.


    The answer to excellence in education can be found in the same way that excellence in any other industry or profession can be realized.  This excellence, however, will never be achieved through teacher-training programs that limit the intake to 18-20 year olds (mostly women) who claim to want to "teach" and who "love children".  These are far from being the criteria necessary for teaching. They are the criteria for motherhood perhaps—something that might be biologically inspired. Good teachers must not only be capable of love and empathy, but they must have a passion for knowledge–of mathematics, of music, or the arts, of engineering, of biology, of languages. Without these passions, they cannot teach. One cannot simply study to "be" a teacher.
    Rather than risk the bland, uninspired homogeneity of the current profile of education school students, universities should seek to certify ALL of their graduates for teaching (and for business/entrepreneurship for that matter). Undergraduate teaching and business schools should provide basic coursework and short internships for all students regardless of their majors. No undergraduate degrees in business or education should ever be provided. These can be reserved for graduate research and master's in management programs. The result: no shortages of teachers and a guaranteed pool of diverse professionals who have studied a subject matter about which they can/should be passionate.


    It's not hard to identify good teaching. And it is not hard to identify happy learners. Measurement, for the most part is seldom necessary–and more often serves large businesses while destroying many students' zest for learning. College entrance exams not only tend to break the family bank, but lead to further homogenization of university curricula and profiles across the country and now around the world. While governments and businesses are clamoring for innovation, creativity, tolerance, and talent,   testing services provide the tools with which society eliminates from higher education all but those who can take a certain kind of test under pressure. What a shame.


    The solutions to better education systems are not so difficult to put into effect–but those who are currently in positions to make them happen must have the courage and humility to move away from some of the practices that may have made sense 150-200 years ago, but no longer are relevant in the 21st century.

    Here's to a thoughtful election, forward thinking board, and an award-winning school district from which graduates can move on to secondary school carrying the joy of learning along with the kind of empathy and respect for others that they will learn by emulating the leadership shown by their teachers, parents, and school administrators.

     

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