D202 hears students explain minority achievement hurdles

Paul Thissen

Intense emotion is not often associated with school board meetings, but a presentation by students who attended the Minority Student Achievement Network Conference brought out the tender side of Board Member Jane Colleton.

“I appreciate your presentation,” she said. “It moved me to tears at one point.”

Six students from Evanston Township High School went to Chapel Hill, N.C., last week for the conference on the hurdles minorities face in schools. Students from 13 school districts across the nation attended the annual conference.

Last year the conference was hosted in Evanston, where participants considered specific school improvements that could be made to help minority students.

“This year we focused on race as a whole,” said ETHS student Denise Clark. “We discussed situations we encounter being black, being Latino, being minority.”

Students decried a culture that labels blacks as “acting white” when they get good grades, speak properly or take challenging classes. Students said the media almost exclusively portrays blacks as ghetto figures.

The students also mentioned some specific plans they hoped would be implemented at ETHS, including a program called Top Choice, which would raise funds to send minority students to visit a college of their choice.

The board also discussed proposed changes to course offerings. The most significant changes are occurring in the English department. The proposal includes a plan to give each student a book to keep and annotate each semester. That plan drew criticism from Board Member Ross Friedman, who said he wanted to see approximate costs along with the initial proposal rather than months later.