Churchill Daniels, principal of Oakton Elementary School in Evanston since 2007, announced his resignation, effective at the end of the school year, an administration spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

Daniels, a native of Evanston who graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1994, has worked in the district for the past 14 years, as a 4th grade teacher at Oakton and a 6th and 7th grade language arts, reading, and social studies teacher at Chute Middle School.

He told the staff and parents at Oakton of his decision Friday, and Superintendent Paul Goren and Assistant Superintendent John Price met with parents and staff Monday night to discuss the principal selection process, according to District Communications Coordinator Melissa Messinger.

“The district is very committed to engaging the Oakton School community in the selection process,” she said, “and there will be several opportunities to do so.”

Daniels was a deliverer of bad news to the District 65 School Board in 2012, when test scores revealed that a special program at the school, known as the African Centered Curriculum, was not working as well as its proponents hoped.

Reading scores on the Illinois Standard Achievement Test had declined for ACC participants, while they had risen slightly for District 65 students as a whole.

The program, designed to improve performance among African-American students, features low student class sizes and increased family involvement.

Related story:

Doubts about ACC at Oakton School in Evanston

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. The Case for Standardized Tests
    Standardized tests are easy to criticize and the much of the criticism is valid. However, they were put in place of a good reason. Without them we would only be able to rely on our local school administrators to tell us how well students are doing, or how well a particular program was doing. For years we heard boosters tout the benefits of ACC. The tests allow us to have a fact-based discussion rather than a political fight.

    1. Oakton Elementary — needs D65 Administration attention now

      Here we are three years later.  What kind of results has the ACC program brought to its students?

      Sadly, many excellent, dedicated teachers have left Oakton Elementary while Principal Daniel held that position. Why the high turnover under his watch?  Someone needs to find out the reason.  Perhaps this change is one step to prevent more great teachings from leaving? 

      Neighbors know of incidents in past years where children who clearly live in the Oakton attendance area have been assigned (without any request by the family) to other schools in D65.  Another why?  These questions were raised with District administrators in past years with blank looks and shrugs as the responses.

      Before Hardy Murphy left as D65 superintendent, the rumor was that the plan was to rename and repurpose Oakton Elementary as the Hardy Murphy Afrocentric Curriculum School.  Is that in the works behind the scenes?  

      Oakton Elementary has been a fabulous school for many students but many, many things are clearly not headed in the right direction there.  Hopefully, with this change, the D65 administrative staff will take a firm hand at that building now.


      1. Principal Daniels
        Principal Daniels has been an excellent principal. He has gone above the call of duty to make sure our kids have an excellent education and experience at Oakton. Mr. Daniels is clearly being scapegoated by those who don’t want to address the real issues at Oakton School which concern racism and poverty. This has been an ongoing struggle at Oakton school and blaming Dr. Daniles for problems that are systemic is unfair and unjust.

      2. Big Loss for Oakton School!

        I am so sad to hear of this news! My children are proud Oakton Cougars, and we are all strong supporters of principal Daniels. He has done so much for the oakton school community, and continues to give nothing but endless heart and dedication to his students and families. I am extremely proud that my children were able to have him as a leader and someone to look up to. 

        As far as losing good, quality teachers under his watch, education is a revolving door, with teachers who want to advance their careers. What's most important are the committed teachers who are currently there and love coming to work! We have  two CURRENT  teachers who are finalists for 'Golden Apples'!!! Enough said! 

        I wish Principal Daniels nothing but the best in his future endevours! There is a school out there that is going to be lucky to get him! 


        1. 5 Essentials

          There are very committed teachers at Oakton School. My children love them and have learned lots. What do those committed teachers think about Mr. Daniels? It is made very clear in the 5 Essentials Survey results that were made public in the Fall. Enough said.

          Sometimes change is good.  I wish Mr. Daniels well and I wish that our Oakton Community comes together to continue to prove that it's great to be an Oakton Cougar…as a student, a parent and a teacher!

        2. Nowhere near enough said

          The flood of great teachers leaving Oakton in the past seven years is not overshadowed by two Golden Apple nominees. Compare this mass exodus to other D65 schools and you will see. 

          A pleasant guy does not equal a good principal.

          1. Flood of great teachers

            Maybe it is true that great teachers have been leaving Oakton school over the past 7 years. What are the data that confirm "great" and "leaving"?   Let us not confuse popular with effective.

            If the teachers were great, results would be better, despite a questionable principal. Everything happens in the classroom. Teachers, too, should be held accountable for the lack of progress at Oakton School.

          2. Much more than pleasant!

            There will Never be the "perfect" principal, or teacher,  that will satisfy the individual demands/needs of each  student and parent at ANY school, ANYWHERE! What works for some, won't work for all! In MY opinion, I feel that Principal Daniels has been nothing but responsive, dedicated and OVERLY involved, as he is always going beyond his duties as a principal. And yes, his pleasant demeanor happens to be an added quality "original Anon." I can't even imagine the stress that one endures trying to lead a school that houses THREE programs under only one roof, all without the help of an assistant principal for majority of this school year, but he has managed to do it well, in my personal opinion 🙂 I have great friends who have children at other schools and they are always  blown away at how involved our principal actual is. He is there for those kids and it shows! 

            So I will reiterate just how sad our family is about losing Principal Daniels! I do wish nothing but greatness for him in his next chapter, and I hope that Oakton will be able to fill his shoes with someone who has even half the heart he does! 

          3. Glad that you are happy — not everyone is

            Many are not pleased with the leadership at Oakton. The quality of the education provided there has diminished in recent years, largely due to the mass exodus of good and experienced teachers. If a principal cannot keep good and experienced teachers from leaving in droves, there is a problem that must be addressed. Again, compare the exodus numbers to other D65 schools and you will see.  Many recent Oakton graduates have one or none of their teachers still employed at Oakton because the teachers left of their own choosing — chose to leave, not fired.

            You refer to the three programs in the school.  Perhaps you noticed that one — the Afrocentric Curriculum Program — received a hugely disproportionate amount of attention, including administrator and staff time, and other resources.  Teachers and students in the other programs deserved no less than equal treatment.  Ask students who attended in the last few years and were in the other two programs.  I heard many who felt that the school sent the message that their education was less important and they were less important. Perhaps that is the message that the District administration wanted to end with this change. 

  2. Irony
    It’s ironic that there are issues with Mr. Daniels as principal and yet two Oakton School teachers were nominated for Golden Apple awards this year.

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