Evanston/Skokie School District 65 is considering a plan that would eventually see Bessie Rhodes Magnet School entirely dedicated to Spanish-English bilingual instruction.

A staff report to be presented at Monday’s board meeting says Rhodes is the best place to expand the popular two-way immersion program — because west Evanston and Skokie neighborhoods near the school, located at 3701 Davis St. in Skokie, have a large Hispanic population.

A chart from showing the Hispanic population by census tract block group in District 65.

Staff recommendations also include replacing Mandarin instruction with Spanish in the non-TWI grades at the school.  Administrators suggest adding two strands of the TWI program this fall and adding two new strands every year, with the end result being a school that’s entirely made up of TWI classes.

The report outlines several reasons for this choice.

  • Bessie Rhodes has an attendance preference area in the 5th Ward which is populated by predominantly black and Latino families, creating opportunity for native English speaking black families to have increased access to TWI.
  • Adding TWI strands at Bessie Rhodes addresses a growing population of native Spanish speakers in north Evanston where District 65 currently offers one TWI strand, at Willard School.
  • The addition of TWI to a magnet school allows for both strands to be added in the same year without eliminating a neighborhood school which would be the outcome if a non-magnet school is converted.
  • With an average class size of 19, Bessie Rhodes has opportunity to more fully maximize enrollment.

This plan comes with a price tag of $85,000 this year alone. Immersion would be complete by the year 2026-27.

Over the next two years District 65 will look into adding two-way immersion to middle school grades as well.  

The proposal, after initial discussion at Monday’s meeting, is expected to be discussed again at the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, with a vote on the plan to be taken at the Dec. 4 meeting.

Information sessions on the proposal are scheduled at the school at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 30.

Join the Conversation


  1. Why?

    It’s not like Spain or anything in Latin America has any chance of becoming the dominant world power of the next generation. So, what’s the point? What are we equipping our children for?

    I’d love to instead have a bilingual English/Chinese (yeah – Mandarin or Cantonese) school in our district. Now, this is the language that’s going to be important both in business and politics.


    1. Who will earn more ? Scholarships] to better colleges
      If a Evanston student goes for a job [BurgerKing or BankofAmerica] saying his second language is Spanish, the employer will say “we have 3000 candidates with that ahead of you.” If a student, black, Hispanic or even white, goes in with Russian, Chinese or even German or French, there may be more openings. At the least the employer will say “he has undertaken a more difficult task and shows creativity. Colleges [and more so graduate schools who require academic languages] also may be more impressed. While probably not useful for the job, Latin and classical Greek will get noticed.
      Much the same goes for physics, chemistry, calculus and higher math, than “math for poets” or some minimal science course. Even some of the deeper humanities and social science courses [not indoctrination courses] will impress much more than weak minimal requirement courses.

  2. English Language Learners

    The purpose of the Two-Way Immersion classes is so that the children who are present to learn Spanish are also teaching and influencing the children who are present to learn English.  The English-Language learners take their standardized tests in English, and District 65 is graded by how well they do.  This program has resulted in better test scores for the children who are learning English, and that’s the intent of the program.

    Candace Hill

    1. Some D65 schools are more equal than others

      Here again we have some D65 schools that have some form of foreign language instruction whiles others do not. Some schools have TWI and others do not. Why? Why do students at Bessie Rhodes, Willard, Washington have it but not Orrington or Lincolnwood?

      The bottom line is ALL D65 students deserve to receive foreign language instruction. The local Catholic school system provide foreign language instruction, starting in 4th grade. 

      D65’s motto is “Every Child, Every Day, Whatever it Takes.” Yeah right.

    2. English Language Learners

      Spanish is a language that is spoken in many countries (over 20) and it is vital in the business setting along with Chinese. Additionally, with the increase of the Latino population in the U.S. Spanish should be a requirement in the school settings. Two-Way immersion classes are a great way for peer learning and brings cultural awareness to our community.

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