Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Teachers, not money, could be an answer to call for ‘fair share’

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City Watch

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Teachers, not money, could be an answer to call for ‘fair share’

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By Liz Rapp

Fair share.

These two little buzz words often seem to encapsulate the entire Northwestern-Evanston relationship. Whether we’re talking head taxes or historic districts, it’s always lurking behind the quarrels between the university and the city. For years Evanston has been after NU for financial contributions. As of yet, Evanston’s demands have gone unanswered. So what else does NU have that Evanston doesn’t? Land issues aside, it’s access to education.

For two years now, three NU professors have been taking matters into their own hands, teaching free college-level courses at the Howard Area Community Center in Chicago. The students, ages 18 to 55, are Evanston and Chicago residents who otherwise might not have a shot at higher education. Thanks to this program, they have the possibility of completing a college degree. One of the professors is paid by the university. The other are two volunteers.

In an Associated Student Government referendum last spring, more than 1,500 students voted to support “joint ventures” between NU and Evanston – and only 5 percent of those students supported financial contributions to the city. If that’s the case, let’s give a hand to the initiative these professors have already started. Sure, it would take manpower and money. Possibly even more difficult would be convincing the city that offering education and advice is a viable alternative to a blank check. But this type of offering would certainly show a more heartfelt and genuine contribution to the city than signing over cash ever could.

So the question becomes: Where can NU take a step into Evanston? A good place to start is Evanston/Skokie Elementary School District 65, where budget problems have caused significant cuts in staff. Particularly hard hit this budget season were arts, drama and music for kindergartners through third graders. To soften the blow to the kids, professors, graduate students or even undergraduate students could help institute after-school or Saturday workshops in these subjects. The classes could be free and rotated from school to school throughout the entire academic year, making it equally accessible for every child in the district.

Another possibility: Set up a volunteer program to send NU students into the classroom as teacher’s aids. Students already act as tutors during the school day for Evanston Township High School’s AVID program and I’m sure many more would be willing to help out if given the opportunity.

The formula is the same in any venture: Get the NU experts out into the community instead of making Evanston come asking for help. Child development experts could teach periodic parenting classes at community centers or act as a consulting service for Family Focus, which gives support to teen moms. People from a number of disciplines, from business to economics to law, could be involved in the city’s development efforts. Joint programs in any number of areas through the university library and the Evanston Public Library could be put into motion.

The key issue in all of this is consistency. It would be easy for NU to give occasional advice to a committee or send professors to a community-center class. To make it a continual, university wide initiative is another story altogether, but that’s what giving a fair share to the community is all about.

Three professors have already started the effort. Now it’s time to follow through.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Teachers, not money, could be an answer to call for ‘fair share’