Evanston School District 65 School Superintendent Paul Goren respondedin a letter to demands for staffing and curriculum changes made by King Arts parents in a press conference Monday afternoon.
Dear King Arts Staff and Families –
Yesterday afternoon, a committed group of family members representing the Black Parents of King Arts, the King Arts PTA, and ONE King Arts came together at a press conference to present their vision to address academic disparities between black and white students, the school’s need for additional educator and student supports, and to ask for collaboration with district and school leadership.
I felt that it was important to attend the press conference with members of my senior team and our school board president. We were not there as participants but to listen to the voices who represent not only black children at the school but all children. I hear the resounding feelings of frustration, anger, and the need for both accountability and significant change. The concerns of King Arts families are real and their demand for action is warranted.
At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – significantly better outcomes for students of color and the overall educational experience that they deserve. I see this as a shared responsibility that starts with district leadership, school leadership, and school staff – with support from community partners and collaboration with families.
Our commitment to racial and educational equity across and at all levels of the organization is widely known. Those who spoke yesterday acknowledged that the gaps in achievement by race in Evanston have been well-documented for many years. Under my tenure, we have never shied away from these data. We have used this information to enact a robust equity agenda focused on support for students below the 25th percentile; culturally responsive and relevant teaching and learning for all students; use of an equity lens in decision making, including employee hiring; professional learning and affinity spaces for staff, students, and families; and a commitment to restorative justice and improved school climate.
In collaboration with school and district leaders, we have used these areas of focus as a foundation to create a specific and actionable plan to address student achievement in the short, medium, and long term. Details were provided in a letter to the King Arts community, sent on April 11 by Dr. Brown. We will also consider the demands presented yesterday and how they intersect with the plan and work already underway across the district. We are committed to continued collaboration with King Arts educators and families to ensure the necessary follow-through and progress monitoring.
We are working fast to address equitable outcomes for students of color at King Arts and for students across the district. I recognize that for families whose children are not receiving the opportunities needed to reach their maximum potential, that this isn’t fast enough. While I am confident in the actions underway, we must hold ourselves accountable, myself included, to ensure meaningful and lasting change for the children of this community. We continue to appreciate the push from families who are advocating on behalf of children. Thank you for your continued support and commitment to the King Arts family and District 65 community.
Superintendent of Schools