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.

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. Time to enact a school voucher system
    Some other questions:

    How many blacks come from single parent households?

    What is the underlying reason why some blacks score above average and other blacks score below average?

    Is the gap really about race or is it about family structure and the parent (s) education level?

    I have a gut feeling PEG is knocking on D65’s door to hold teacher seminars about institutional racism and white privilege. Maybe there’s a movement afoot to build a new $28 million elementary school in the Fifth Ward. Voters rejected that plan even though it was supported by the political elites in the community, including Jan Schakowsky.

    This gap nonsense in Evanston has been going on for more than 25 years. If educators are so concerned about filling the gap doesn’t it make sense they will work to bring the top down and raise the bottom? Isn’t that how you fill the gap?

    We need school vouchers in Illinois. Period.

    1. Black vrs. Hispanic achievement

      One of the odd things I keep seeing in the test scores, but that no one seems to address, is why Hispanic scores are higher than Blacks.  In Math there is no cultural reason. In Reading we are always told we have so many Hispanics for whom English is a second language or they have a hard time with it and need bi-lingual classes—but even in Reading their scores are higher.

      The Board needs to explain why—and maybe learn something useful in the process.  Family structure, two parent, discipline, requiring kids to sit and do homework every night–and parents ready and willing to help with questions, education level of parents, curfews, involvement in 'community' [grandparents, aunts/uncles, church] ?

  2. How do the patterns in

    How do the patterns in disciplinary incidents for Black students compare to the District average?
    Over the past four years, there has been a decrease in the number of students with office
    discipline referrals and the number of suspension days for all students. However,
    o 1 in 4 Black students received an
    office discipline referral for a behavior classified as
    major in 2015
    o There were 10.4 suspension days per 100 Black students

    In the report, tables 17 and 18 indicate the percent of students with outside discipline referrals and the out-of-school suspension days per 100 students. However, I cannot find any data on the number of outside discipline referrals per 100 students. It would be helpful to know so that number of suspension days per referral could be calculated. Does anybody have a link with that data?

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