A proposed new school for west Evanston gets no ringing endorsement from west-side parents in a new survey conducted for District 65.
The survey, which reached 43 percent of the parents in the attendance area proposed for the school, showed 92 percent are happy with the schools their children currently attend.
The 8 percent who said they aren’t happy expressed concerns with safety, test scores and the length of bus rides, among other issues.
Despite plans by the district’s new school committee to recommend a fixed attendance area for the new school, most of those surveyed said parents should have a choice about whether to send children to any new school.
And, despite months of discussion about the proposed new school, most parents said they didn’t know enough about the proposed new school to decide whether they’d want to send their children to it.
Some also voiced fears that the demographic make-up of the new school would not be diverse.
Asked what characteristics a new school should have, parents offered widely varying responses — including “more focus on ethinc and socioeconomic diversity and balance in the student population.”
Given the attendance boundaries proposed for the school by the committee, that diversity may be difficult to achieve — since the boundaries were drawn to target traditionally all-black areas of the city which have seen only a modest amount of housing integration in recent years.
The telephone survey, which used mostly open-ended questions, was conducted for the district by the ECRA Group.
The full survey report is available online.
Advocates for a new school have claimed that there is strong community support for building a replacement for the old Foster School that served as a neighborhood school for Evanston’s black community until the schools were desegregated in the 1960s.
It’s doubtful the New School Committee will listen
Based on this scientific survey, it is crystal clear there is a large contingency of Fifth Ward parents who are happy with the current school boundaries and have no real desire for a new community school.
If you think this survey will dampen a relentless effort for a new $25 million Fifth Ward school, think again.
It is my prediction that these activists who are stacked on the New School Committee and chaired by new school proponents D65 School Board members Katie Bailey and Jerome Summers will move forward with the help of a consultant to keep a new school referendum off the ballot. They want to ram it through no matter what.
The D65 school board should be focused on cost-cutting measures such as a school consolidation of D65 and D202, not ramming through a new school the district can't afford along with low enrollment in the Fifth Ward and tepid community desire.
If there is one curriculum issue that I think D65 parents really would like to discuss it is district-wide mandatory foreign language, especially from kindergarten to 3rd grade. Such a curriculum would set the district apart and reap residual benefits – increased property values. TWI is nice but not every school has it and not every student gets to participate in the program at schools that do have TWI.
Of course, D65 bureaucrats will tell you the school district can't afford such a foreign-language curriculum. Yet, some D65 board members think we can afford a $25 million new school!!!!
Parents get involved!!!!!!!!
Not surprised–parents who have choice want to keep choice
The survey results do not surprise me one bit.
If you look at the District's own statistics, a substantial number of the children in the hypothetical fifth ward school area had already opted into other schools and programs besides their assigned neighborhood schools. They have taken full advantage of D65 programs such as TWI, the magnet schools, permissive transfers and AAC. I'm sure they want to keep taking advantage of school choice.
I can also imagine that not all the families being bused see that as a problem. Some may see it as a trade-off for going to a good school with a proven track record, even as others see it as a hardship.
The statistics of school choice are right there in the minutes of the new school committee for all to see, toward the bottom of the page, here:
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