The Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board has scheduled a special meeting tonight on the achievement gap between white and black students that could last up to five hours.
Accordingly, they’ve moved the beginning time back to 6:15 p.m. from the usual 7 p.m. start.
Even so, not counting the time for conducting the board’s usual monthly business, the agenda has allotted nearly four and a half hours for discussion about the gap.
In a preliminary 43-page report, the district’s Office of Research, Accountability, and Data has compiled a treasure trove of statistics that addresses the following seven questions raised by representatives of Evanston’s black community at a meeting of the board in December:
What are the participation rates and outcomes for black students in Early Childhood Education in the district?
What are the academic outcomes of black students in grades kindergarten through 3?
What are the academic outcomes of black students in grades 3 through 8?
How do academic outcomes for black students differ by school?
How does black student achievement in District 65 compare to other districts?
How does the proportion of black students with an individual education plan for developmental delays or emotional disabilities differ from black District 65 enrollment?
How do the patterns in disciplinary incidents for black students compare to the district average?
Armed with that data as a background, the agenda calls for 90 minutes of discussion about the report, followed by a panel discussion with “community partners” for 45 minutes, comments from the public for another 60 minutes, an hour of comments and discussion from board members, and 10 minutes of closing remarks from the superintendent and the board.
After all that, the board will address an additional 11 items of business, including a 30-minute allotment of time for public comment on any school-related matter, before adjournment for the night.
The plan is reminiscent of a statement made by a former district staff member when meetings would run past midnight: “I love it when a board meeting begins and ends on the same day.”
If you wish to attend the meeting in person, it will be held at district headquarters at 1500 McDaniel Ave., or you may watch it live on Evanston cable television channel 19.