About 40 people turned out for a meeting Monday night at Second Baptist Church to offer ideas for volunteer efforts to help close the achievement gap in Evanston schools.

Ideas ranged from putting books in barbershops to holding workshops to teach parents how to better navigate the school system.

Michael Nabors.

The meeting was organized by Second Baptist’s pastor, Michael Nabors, and drew other religious leaders as well as school and city officials in addition to other residents concerned about lagging academic performance by low income students.

Nabors said he’s spoken with leaders at at least 30 of the city’s 114 houses of worship, all of whom were willing to help create a community collaborative to improve achievement levels in the schools.

Paul Goren.

School Superintendent Paul Goren said District 65 has to “own the performance level of kids.”

“We need to welcome families into our schools,” Goren said, “We know we have to work harder, and faster and make a difference. Yet we can’t do it on our own.”

Community activist Bennett Johnson, a former teacher, said, “Teachers, like policemen, need to be monitored constantly,” adding that “the failure of society to provide economic and financial suport to black families is critical.”

Cradle to Career Executive Director Sheila Merry said ending “summer learning loss” should be a key focus and said summer freedom schools are an exciting new way to address that problem — with one now planned for Friendship Baptist Church in Evanston.

And Monte’ Dillard, pastor at First Church of God Christian Life Center, said the parenting issue is key. “I’m passionate to help with that,” said Dillard.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. School vouchers is the answer
    Only 40 people showed?

    Here’s my two cents. Wanna “fill the gap?”

    Demand Illinois lawmakers create a school voucher system in which parents can CHOOSE which schools to send their kids.

    School vouchers will create a more competitive environment in American education.

    The only problem is the powerfully well funded and well connected Teacher’s Union successfully kills every effort to create a school voucher system in this state. They are able to do this due to their campaign donations to politicians, almost all of them Democrats.

    School vouchers will quickly fill the gap but the connected elites don’t want to lose their power and control.

    1. Code
      I’m never sure whether to dignify an unsigned, unowned comment with a reply, especially one with apparent racist intent. I thought everyone knew that “school vouchers” is racist code for, “I have more money than do you, so my kids deserve a good education, and I don’t care what happens to yours.”

      I didn’t attend last night’s meeting because I don’t believe that volunteerism or prayer is an effective solution to the discrimination that black and brown children face in District 65 schools and have faced for decades. The school board is charged with educating all our kids, not just the white ones, not just the wealthier ones. The District’s motto includes the words, “Whatever it takes,” and I for one intend to do whatever it takes to hold the Board accountable to serve all the children of Evanston. One of the first necessary steps is diversity training for all D65 teachers and staff.

      1. Alyce in Wonderland

        Alyce, if you think that diversity training is "one of the first necessary steps" you've got a lot to learn about educational issues and challenges in our country and community. Yes, real diversity training is important, but there are many, many, many other issues and challenges that need to be addressed. Diversity is in Evanston's DNA; if you want to bark up that tree, go north to Wilmette, Kenilworth, Winnetka, Glencoe, and Lake Forest. 

        1. Thomas Paine? seriously?

          Is your name actually Thomas Paine? Or are you actually choosing the name of a founding father instead of your own, and choosing (hilariously) a founding father about whom I am a published scholar?

          I think Evanston's diversity is of the "drive-by" kind — White folks find it nice to look at, so they can feel good about themselves, but never let it enter their backyard or appear at their child's wedding altar.

          1. Experience with Evanston Schools?

            Alyce, what is your personal experience with Evanston schools? what did  you experience as a student or as a parent of kids who are in Evanston schools or who have graduated. I've lived in Evanston 25 + years, and have 2 kids who graduated from ETHS and 1 at ETHS and another at Chute Middle School. Sorry to know you've experienced Evanston's "drive by" diversity. Our family has been enriched with the many wonderful people we've met and become friends with over the years. You just need to make the effort. Good luck and i hope you find fulfillment.



          2. Statistics, and getting woke

            Thomas (if that's your name),

            I think statistics speak pretty well for themselves, like the ones at <A HREF="">Facts</a&gt;, and not yet posted are the appalling statistics from the 2015 achievement report discussed at the April 25th D65 board meeting.

            I lived in Glenview while my daughter was growing up, and as a white parent with a white child in an overwhelmingly white school district I never had to fight for my daughter's right to an education, as black parents in Evanston do every single day, and as they have to do to keep District 65 from continually sweeping the issue of race under the carpet.

            Thomas, I got a wake-up call a year ago that being a "nice white person" isn't enough. Here are books I recommend on the subject:

   — "Waking Up White…" by Debby Irving

   — "What Does It Mean To Be White…" by Robin DiAngelo

            Not only are black children, teens, young adults and adults getting killed, unarmed, in American streets — not only are blacks dying earlier due to discriminatory healthcare — but the level of trauma experienced in black communities is rising even for small children from their daily experiences of discrimination and seeing what's happening around them. Some black folks have PTSD as bad as soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

            America shouldn't be here in 2016, it's inexcusable. In my opinion every white person in Evanston should be enraged that our black fellow citizens get very different treatment than we do. As researcher Jane Elliott has famously said to white audiences, "Raise your hand if you're willing to receive the kind of treatment that blacks get in this country." If you don't raise your hand, it means you know there's a difference and you're okay with others getting worse treatment than you get.

            I invite you to get woke. Check out OPAL, attend a meeting, get involved. I look forward to meeting you there. 


            In reply to Benjamin Franklin's remark, "Where liberty is, there is my country." 
                      "Where liberty is not," said Thomas Paine, "there is mine." 

            "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

            "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."

          3. Time to close the gap of false race grievances

            So you chose to live in Glenview and send your child to a predominantly white public school and didn't have to worry about your white child hearing the constant messages of white privilege and fill the gap (code words for bringing test scores of blacks up while keeping the scores of whites stabilized or even lowering them). Glenview schools didn't hold a Black Female Summit and a Black Male Summit, two events held at ETHS in which the media was banned from covering. How convenient. The words limousine liberal comes to mind. 

            And now you live in Evanston and demand the school districts send all teachers and admins thru diversity training. Incindentally, they did when D202 decided to spend tens of thousands of dolalrs on the Pacific Education Group that believes there is institutional racism and white privilege in school districts and organizations throughout America. Apparently, it hasn't helped nor has the black centered curriculum at Oakton Elementary. Oh, and LIncolnwood Elementary, a school with a majority white population, has a black principal and black teachers..

            In any event, many here including myself choose to be anonymous because we are busy working and raising families and do not want the hassle of being called a racist – a word you have and other activists liberally used on this board.

            So if white teachers are passing on their own white-centered, white-is-normal, white-is-better attitude aren't black teachers passing on their own black-centered, black-is-normal, black-is-better attitude?

            You say American culture is set up to give more resources and power to whites. So if the system is racist where do Asians fit in this theory? Are Asians victims of white culture? Cuz they score better on tests than whites and as a race earn more than whites. How many Asian teachers are at D65 and D202? .

            Did ya know that the majority of  Americans living in poverty have white skin? 

            Those darn inconveneint facts again. They have a conservative bent.

          4. Translation: I have no good
            Translation: I have no good response to your counter-argument but would like to make it appear as if I know better than you.

  2. Always someone else’s fault

    Yes, community activist Johnson. Give more money to black families. Because that is always the answer. Taking responsibility for your children and creating a productive home life is never the right idea. It is always someone else's fault that have let your poor children and community down. 

    1. Another unowned comment

      I deduce from your comment that you're white and mostly ignorant of recent American history. 

      I'd like to see how productive a home life you'd create if your family were stipped of the equity in your home and the many benefits it provides, such as serving as collateral for loans for sending your kids to college, and giving you security for your retirement. Most black Americans have been systematically excluded from the benefits of home equity that their white fellow citizens enjoy, thanks to decades of redlining, FHA discrimination, and the racism of white neighborhoods.

      I'd like to see how productive a home life you'd create if your school board failed to give you an adequate education because of the color of your skin, thereby condemning you to work in low-security, low-wage, low-benefit jobs.

      I'd like to see how productive a home life you'd create if every day you were disrespected by the white people you encounter who were too afraid of your skin color to get to know you as a person.

      I'd like to see how productive a home life you'd create if you and your children experienced rising levels of physical trauma as a result of almost daily news stories about black children, teens and parents getting gunned down by police officers who are never charged with a crime, much less convicted.

      I'd like to see how productive a home life you'd create if your parents or grandparents served in the armed forces to help this country win World War II, only to return home with PTSD and no job, and then be denied the benefits of the GI Bill enjoyed by their white fellow citizens, and then have to stifle the resulting anger and frustration in order to avoid even worse treatment at the hands of whites in authority.

      I encourage you to read this article, it will help with some of the ignorance


      1. Demonstrative
        Hshs seems to have touched on something when he or she mentioned the refusal or inability of certain individuals to take responsibility for themselves, their families, and the outcomes thereof.

      2. What exactly are they doing or not doing?

        "…if your school board failed to give you an adequate education because of the color of your skin…"  

        I have asked this question before on this website after reading similar comments and am still looking for an answer.  I am hoping that you can help the understanding here, Alyce. 

        What exactly is the D65 School Board doing or not doing that fails to give some students an adequate education based on their skin color?

        Before you can address a problem, the problem needs to be properly defined. I see the test scores and those scores most certainly reflect a problem or problems to be addressed.  

        An organization acts through its people, policies and practices.  What D65 people, policies or practices need to be changed to end D65's failure to provide an adequate education based on students' skin color?

        With more than 20 years' experience sending children to D65 schools, I can attest that improvements are needed.  The curriculum is not rigorous enough for most students and the attitude that "good enough" is good enough for many in the administration (see the administration's past years of touting results from the notoriously deficient ISAT testing).

        So please give details on what the D65 is doing or not doing to deny students of color an adequate education.  Once we define the problem or problems, we have a target or targets on which to focus.

        And I choose to remain anonymous in my postings as I have seen, in other articles, some people's comments twisted and labeled without any basis in fact then that person is held up to ridicule for something that he or she did not actually say.  Let the facts do the talking in these exchanges then exact identities are not necessary.

        1. Back to Basics

          It is rather refreshing for yet another minister of the cloth to take an interest in the education or the systemic miseducation of minorities in Evanston, and albeit to note, in Illinois.  From the perspective of the minister and for respect of his willingness to bring attention to his profession, I must say that one must comment on the root of the evil that exist in America, is written clearly "In God We Trust".  Historically, the situation has evolved from a certain group of people that came in ships to conquer a nation that was living in a better state of peace than we know now.  To root out the evil of human nature among the people who have been labeled as "the blacks", one can only imagine why they have become so hostile to one another.  The dissent and predjudices that exist in their own race of people is indeed worthy of immediate prayer.  Those that have aspired to reach the American dream of Dr. King, have done so through understanding and with the help of those of other cultures that have put families first.  Evanston is unique as with other cited events, such as June Teenth, that had a thriving community racially segregated to the 5th ward.  Was life good then, maybe so for some. Ironically ETHS is situated in the community that bears no excuse for those that cannot make it to school on time or not at all should be a problem.   Back to the point of discussion, because of the relentless attitudes that  will not forget the past and have opinions that the past has no future, then we must bring in a new perspective, if only for insight through the tried methods, such as the Friedman Foundation that has speakers and informational material on the "www" that would be beneficial in learning of the school voucher program.  Because Illinois is going through yet another bout with the teacher unions it may not be politically correct for the status quo;  however; the community cannot do it alone.  There needs to be a collective of minds that are willing to come together and explore the possibilities that exist and are being offered through government funding.  Coding in the schools has been  only for the students of the elite, but is now being implemented to the underpriviledged in California.  Harlem, has also caught on to the programs that are being offered.

           Meetings that are being held after dinner during the week in locations that are difficult to find parking is a problem for parents of children that cannot be left alone or those that are working for overtime pay.  Try to make these meetings more convenient for those you are trying to help.  Just a suggestion.   The neighbors that surround 2nd Baptist Church were probably not in attendance.

        2. What they’re not doing, and doing

          Another unowned comment. Why don't people on this website register with their real names? I don't know what to conclude except that they're not willing to own their opinions.

          Among the things District 65 isn't doing — diversity training for all teachers, staff and board, and hiring more black teachers so black kids see more people in authority who look like them. As Robin DiAngelo explains so well in her work, every person in American culture swims in the water of racism, there's no way to avoid it. Being a "nice persons" doesn't mean you're not racist. Any white teacher or staff member who isn't doing diversity training and following that by doing his/her own personal work, is passing on their own white-centered, white-is-normal, white-is-better attitudes either consciously or unconsciously, there's no way to avoid it, it's the eyes we were raised with. I encourage you to read about this, I cited Debby Irving's sand Robin DiAngelo's books in a comment above on this page. There are white teachers and staffers at ETHS who are doing this, and the difference is palpable.

          1. Show us the results

            Alyce, there are several reasons that people don't post under their own names. My employer won't allow me to be publicly post. I expect other people have their own personal reasons.

            I don't think hiring more black teachers will necessarily result in improved educational outcomes for black students. Are you suggesting that black kids will only learn from black teachers? And does that logic hold also for hispanic teachers and kids? And asian teachers for asian kids and white teachers for white kids? I thought people in Evanston believed in diversity?

            You may be aware that several years ago District 65 started the ACC program at Oakton. There is a black principal, with several black teachers teaching black students. Have you reviewed those results? 

            I support any program that can enhance educational opportunities and experiences for all students, especially for disadvantaged students. I don't support hopes and dreams and rhetoric that wastes time and money.


          2. Shadow Work®
            As mentioned in AlyceBarry’s profile, she is involved in Shadow Work®.
            Reading through some of the results in a quick search, I am beginning to get a clearer picture of this woman. One short gem is entitled “White Fragility and Shadow Work” and it explains a lot.
            She lives in the 6th Ward; before that, she lived in Glenview. For someone extolling the virtues of “diversity,” Mrs. Barry surely made interesting choices when relocating.

          3. You mean…

            Ms. Barry advocates diversity/cultural sensitivity training as the answer to D65's achievement gap.

            And it just so happens that Ms. Barry leads diversity/cultural sensitivity training sessions. My, what a coincidence!

            Hmmmm.  What about all of that scolding about "hiding" identities?  How about touting a "solution" to a very real problem for our local children but not disclosing that "solution" just happens to be your line of work?  That is certainly disappointing and does not reflect well on that opinion.

          4. Is the answer really diversity training?

            The Achievement Gap continues in Evanston and in all communities around our country. Has anyone "figured it out?" Do we really know the underlying causes? Do we really have any solutions? Or is more Diversity Training really the answer?

          5. deja vu
            Didn’t Chicago just get over a similar issue—and fines [jail?]—for officials advocating for consulting with their firm ?
            Ms. Barry’s situation sounds like the camel getting the nose under the tent.
            The Board probably does not learn these lessons.

  3. It is amazing to me that no one commented that the solution to our gap problem IS PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT!
    I have been in this country and town for 56 years, as an immigrant from S America. From day one I heard two things: “The ticket out of poverty is a good education.” And two, “The ticket for a good education is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT.”

    I was startled one time when visiting Haven school and a black kid told me that he was not doing very well academically because he “didn’t want to be like whitey.”

    So , in the late 70s, I got involved with a group of mostly black ministers and elders who were working towards helping minorities do better in school. I had wonderful conversations with black elders who told me that years back if ever they saw a kid playing outside at 5pm whether their own child or someone else’s the elder would ask “How come you are not at home doing your schoolwork?” And would wait until he saw the kid go in.
    In those days I visited minority homes, black and hispanic. The first thing I noticed was that minority homes didn’t have as many books as those of whites, if any. Moms didn’t read to kids as whites did. They didn’t push for education as whites did. They didn’t ask as many questions about the school day…. “What did you do today? Do you have homework? How much? What is it?….” Not so much in black/Hispanic homes. In too many black homes fathers were absent. While in white homes there were two parents and both were heavily involved in their kids’ education.
    Which told me that if schools want to change the achievement gap between whites/asians and minorities, which has persisted for decades, they should find a way to educate parents about THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES regarding their children’s education. The school is responsible for providing the opportunity. But the student/parent combination is responsible for making good use of such opportunities. If the parent doesn’t care, the kid won’t care either.

    Schools do have, however, the responsibility to NOT pass from grade to grade and eventually, after 13 years to graduate from high school minorities who are unprepared for college or life! They should instead, as soon as they situation calls for it, discuss the issue with parents, and/or offer special training to those parents who don’t know how to be involved in their kids’ educational process.
    But what I have seen happen all too often when parents complain that “the school is not educating my child,” is superintendents/boards, hire new administrators at huge cost, to take care of a problem which they cannot solve, while they get rid of the complaining parent at the same time, as the gap continues on and on.

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