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A proposal by the Pacific Educational Group for racial equity professional development and consulting services for the board and administration of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 was met with skepticism at Monday night’s board meeting as perhaps a solution in search of a problem.

A proposal by the Pacific Educational Group for racial equity professional development and consulting services for the board and administration of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 was met with skepticism at Monday night’s board meeting as perhaps a solution in search of a problem.

Dubbed as “a framework for systemic equity transformation,” the program—largely a series of seminars—is described by the consultants as one that is designed “to help leaders, educators, students, parents, and community understand the impact of race on student achievement and the role that racism plays in institutionalized academic achievement disparities.”

It is considered a tool to help the district cope with an achievement gap between white and minority students. The first phase would take a year and would involve an out-of-pocket cost of $55,500. The complete program involves four more phases to be implemented over several years. The high school District 202 is currently participating in a PEG program.

Board member Kim Weaver said, “It looks like a lot of training. What is our goal? What will be the result? Will this help us close the gap?” If the goal is closing the gap, she said, perhaps the district could better use the money to expand the African-Centered Curriculum currently in place at Oakton School.

Katie Bailey suggested that a needs assessment be the first step. “Maybe that’s what we should do,” she said.

Andrew Pigozzi said, “It’s not real high on my priority list” and he suggested that the board members might first attend one of the District 202 workshops on the subject. “I don’t see a real sense of urgency,” he said.

Tracy Quattrocki labeled it “a boilerplate proposal”  that would take time away from the regular duties of district personnel.

Supporters of the proposal were members Jerome Summers and Board President Keith Terry. Summers contended that it could help board members with “how we see the world.”

Terry said that “as a diverse board, leadership starts here.”  As the discussion ended with no resolution, Terry suggested that the next step might be to go back to the consultants to see if they could develop a customized program for the district. “I don’t know how to do a needs assessment,” he said.

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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19 Comments

  1. What were the results ?

    The article says they 202 works with PEG already.  What have been the measurerable results ?  What standards for improvement were set IN ADVANCE?  Have they been met?

    If supporters thing there is a need "help board members with “how we see the world.”…", why don't they meet with the Board themselves instead of an outside agent, esp. since they apparently already know what they want communicated—-and save $55,500 [has that figure not already grown ?  what will/would it 'actually' be when the final contract is set ?]  Maybe the supporters can just prepare a document and give to PEG to sign and give back to the Board, since they seem to love 'official stamps of approval" and cut out the middle-man.

    Of course $55,500 is nothing to a Board/City with so many financial problems already—just one more thing to add on.  But to paraphrase a former Senator, "…$55,500 here, $55,500 there, and finally you're talking about read money.."   To me we are way past talking about "real money in Evanston."

    1. What were the results?

      $55,000 is just to start.  D202 has spent a good deal more than that so far and the tab is still running.  Ann Arbor schools have spent at least $341,000 so far and PCSSD in Little Rock spent at least $341,000. Check it out online.  Is this 'real money?'

  2. Generic proposal

    Mr. Terry,  the president of the D65 Board of Education, insists on discussing a generic proposal that does not respond to specific needs of our students because he "does not know how to do a needs assessment" but, let's not forget, the work of PEG could help Board members with how they see the world. All for a mere $55,500. Really?

    People of Evanston-Skokie, let's take our schools back! VOTE!

  3. Down a PEG or two

    Reading all this ballyhoo about PEG reminds me of a time during my 30-year civil service career when a program called TQM (Total Quality Management) was foisted upon the Civil Service by someone's brother-in-law or someone. Much time was wasted on things that were, to the average working stiff, quite self-explanatory and a complete waste of government and employee time (and money!). PEG seems like the same kind of scam but with racial applications. I'm sure glad our three kids are too old to be in the Evanston school system!!!

  4. Independent Needs Assessment

    The Roundtable reported that ETHS hired PEG to do their needs assessment.   PEG's needs assessment indicated the High School should hire PEG.   

    In order to avoid the appearance of impropriety we should make sure goals and needs assessments are defined clearly and established independently.

    1. Be realistic

      Jane,

      Where are we going to find an independent entity to assess D65? We're likely to get one of the same cronies of Hardy Murphy who have been consulting with the district for years.

      Do you want to trust the firm that gave us a 70 question parent survey and then discounted the results when they showed that the vast majority parents didn't trust the school board to represent them?

      Or maybe the firm that gave us a strategic plan with no specific targets or deadlines?

      There is the person who coordinated the Middle School Study, Magnet School Study and D202 Mixed Level Committee.

      How about the consultant hired to do the Special Ed study who stayed on as a consultant for $1,500 a day?

      Or there is the consultant who worked on the Differentiation/Enrichment study who has continued to consult with D202 (for how much more money?!).

      PEG apparently knew that getting their foot in the door as a consultant with one of the Evanston school districts puts you on the gravy train for life.

  5. Idea … use Northwestern

    Why not ask an education/social policy researcher/professor at Northwestern to help D65 address the achievement gap?  They might have some valuable information to provide the district and certainly have experience with various methodologies to address this very issue.  They may also have graduate students or post-docs who might be highly invested in addressing this problem.  Dr. Mesmin Destin's bio, in the Department of Education and Social Policy for instance, states that one of his specialities is 'small classroom-based interventions to improve school outcomes for low-income and minority youth.'  Why not use this resource?

  6. Achievement gap

    Check out

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/education/14winerip.html

    According to the highly esteemed professor's research the cause of the gap is not found in the schools, but rather in the parenting and in economic differences between blacks and whites.

    These differences are unlikely to change by diversity training about institutional racism.

    If we really wanted to close the achievement gap we would take a chunk of  money we spend on remediation and funnel it into very early childhood education and parent/caregiver training.  Of course, we would have to continue supports for some kids, but most parents I know–black or white–really want to help their children succeed.  We need to support the development of tools and expectations in the home to narrow the gap. 

    1. the school as eternal whipping boy

      How can racism be disproven?

      We have a gap in achievement, we've always had the gap, the gap hasn't changed significantly in all the years, decades now, that we've had people telling us it's racism or some euphemism for it.

      Is there any community you can think of anywhere in the U.S. that is more diverse than Evanston? People who dislike living with others different from themselves don't come here. Instead, they move to the many many places where the population of the town is entirely, or almost so, like them. You don't have to go far from Evanston to find such communities.

      After witnessing an extended period of self-flagellation, I can understand why people who are accepting of others get tired of the abuse and leave. We hire people and pay them lots of money to tell us we are racist, though that word is studiously avoided. Hardy Murphy's feelings were revealed in the board meeting where he called a board member racist, but of course not directly. Now we stand ready to pay PEG to tell us the same thing.

      Combine people who are ready to blame others with people who are ready to feel guilty and a large number of people who don't have kids in school so don't pay attention to school issues or board elections and you have the combination for keeping the schools in a crisis long after they have taken every move and then some to remediate something over which they have very limited control.

      Will a student, regardless of race, willingly blame him or herself for failure?

      Will a parent, regardless of race, willingly blame him or herself for failure?

      Will an administrator who is a hired gun, regardless of race, willingly admit he or she is being tasked with an impossible task especially when a career has been fashioned upon that task?

      Evanston's school boards have a habit of searching out candidates for superintendent that are outspoken about addressing the gap. It's an Evanston obsession. Some members can feel vindicated by this and others can feel righteous that they are doing the right thing. The pay is good and once here, a long tenure is assured because the problem will not go away before the office holder moves on and another "gap person" is sought out.

      I worked at Channel 7 for 23 years with all kinds of people. Suddenly, ABC/Disney got religion about "sensitivity training" and required all employees to attend seminars. Since my co-workers and I had been together for many many years without any problems, I refused to attend with the reason that there was nothing in our employee history that showed any evidence of the need and the business of ABC/Disney was broadcasting, not social relations, unless it was shown that such were impeding work.

      I was called in privately by the general manager and told that my request would be granted under the condition that I not tell anyone else about it. The fear was that then everyone would refuse the training! I think that would have been a very good thing because then they would have been working instead of sitting in a seminar.

      My fellow Evanstonians – when it comes to our schools, refuse the training! As the song says, how long will this keep going on? We haven't reduced the gap yet we cling to the idea that the schools are to blame. There's plenty of money to be made by outside parties telling us this is true and careers can be advanced by doing so. As long as we seek out such people and organizations, we will find them.

      The schools are to educate, not to be a whipping boy for the enrichment of those who only know how to identify and recommend a new kind of whip.

       

       

      1. Schools that educate all to the same level—and expect quality

        If all the 'special' programs for 'special' groups were eliminated and we expect all students [remember studies have shown results are correlated with what you tell people they 'can' accomplish] to succeed—instead of inventing excuses like race, parent, wealth, ability—then they will succeed as Teach for America and other groups have shown.

        School programs should all be rigorous—for everyone.  From 8-12 grades there should be a requirement of four years each of math [e.g. two algebra, one geometry/trig/analytic, one calculus], four years of English, four years of history [ancient, European, American], at least one year of Latin and two years of German or French, at least one year of art/music, etc..  Students will then graduate prepared for college—even those who have been written off for years as 'uneducatable' by 'diversity' experts and political leaders who want them 'beholden' to them for everything.

      2. A more diverse community?

        "Is there any community you can think of anywhere in the U.S. that is more diverse than Evanston?"

        As a matter of fact, there is a more diverse community than Evanston, and it's very close by.

        That community is Skokie. It is more diverse in terms of number of languages spoken by students in the schools and number of nationalities represented. Skokie has larger populations of Asians and Eastern Europeans than Evanston has, as well as the Latino and African American ethnic groups that we have here.

        Maybe we should go talk to our neighbors?

         

         

        1. What about poor children of color?

          Skokie is very diverse.  But not in the same way Evanston is.  Talk to a teacher in the Skokie schools.  She teaches very few poor, African American kids.  And she talks to parents who respect her,  and do not challenge every instructional decision she makes.   They never email the school board .  They let her do her job and are appreciative of what she does.

          Our challenge is that our schools have not been successful at educating poor children of color and children with disabilities.  The belief seems to be that if  we were only more like Skokie, if only these kids were more like me (read highly educated white) all would be well.  These kids will never be more like you .  They will always be of color, they will always have a learning disability,  but, if we do the right thing, they will not always be poor.  And that is what we want to achieve.

          These kids deserve a chance. If we need to change what we do to give them that chance, lets do it.    

           

          1. Sounds like another plea for why they are inferior

            This sounds like another white liberal explain why the poor and non-white cannot succeed and therefore we need to excuse them and as their guardian protect them all their lives.

            They CAN succeed if we quit excusing them, the teachers and the schools and society in general and treat them like they are equal.  Yes extra work [not excuses] may be required, that is what Teach for America and other groups have shown can work.  If you treat them as un-equal, they will grow-up believing they are so.  If you treat them as capable they will succeed.   Maybe the schools need to bring in Teach for America, Michelle Rhee and others who have shown such to run the schools since it appears obvious that the teachers, administrators and public don't feel the current system is doing the job. 

            Liberal racism is perhaps the most damaging of all forms.

  7. The only results I’ve seen

    The only results I've seen from the African-Centered Curriculum were that the test scores from that program were slightly lower than those of the rest of the population at Oakton.  Since Ms. Weaver suggested expanding the ACC, are there some metrics (other than ISATs) that show it's having a positive effect?

  8. Our “Sorry” D65 School Board President

    I'm glad that D65 School Board President Keith Terry apologized this week for trying to ram through a contract with PEG. I was also glad when he apologized last month for letting Dr. Murphy and other board members berate their colleague (and Murphy's employer) Tracy Quattrocki.  I'm glad Terry's so sorry, but I wish he didn't have so much to be sorry about.  Voters be warned:   if Terry should be re-elected next month, we won't see any more apologies. But he'll still be a sorry board member.

    Vote Rykhus, Budde, and Bailey.

     

    1. PEG

      The vitriole with which Rykhus, Budde and their supporters speak when discussing the current school board is really doing all of you a disservice. I find it very amusing that Budde and Rykhus speak so authoritatively about the issues plaguing our schools, yet neither have one minute of experience actually handling such matters, and Budde has only been an Evanston resident for three years. Rather than simply insult Keith Terry and other devoted, hard working members of the Board, how about Rykhus and Budde actually run on original, non-hyperbolic ideas and possible solutions for how our schools are managed?  You people lose all credibility when you write comments like this. 

      1. Wrong Assumption

        My name is not on Ryhkus's nor Budde's supporter list. How dare you assume that. 

        Yes, Terry has experience on the District 65 board, but he has handled the board experience poorly. There have been other leaders on the District 65 board who has handled the role on the board with integrity and without being a bully. Unfortunately, Terry is not one of them. 

        Lets not re-elect incumbents for the sake of re-electing incumbents. 

      2. If, as you say, experience is

        If, as you say, experience is necessary to be a Board member, then I guess we'll just need to keep electing incumbents until they wear out.  But then what?  Budde and Rykhus have had ample opportunity to observe the current Board in action and they haven't liked everything that they have seen.  Hence they propose to bring a new perspective to the Board.  Many voters in D65 have grown weary of the current superintendent-controlled Board and welcome the chance to have Board members who share their views provide input about the way our schools will be run. 

        I haven't heard anyone say that Keith Terry is a bad person or that he hasn't worked hard at his job as Board President.  However, I and others believe that he has not done a good job in this role and that now is the time for a new perspective.  If that causes me to lose credibility in your eyes, so be it.   On April 5 we will see what the voters think.

  9. Fresh eyes

    "and Budde has only been an Evanston resident for three years."

    From my perspective that, in and of itself, is so important and positive and makes her an even stronger asset to the school and community.  

    We have a wealth of institutional knowledge on the board.  We have board members who've lived in Evanston their whole lives.   They bring an important perspective.  

    Equally important is someone who won't pre-edit options, who may have seen things that have worked in other communities that we can copy for ourselves.  

    Fresh eyes.   Sometimes that's all it takes.   

     

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