Letter to the Editor: Diversity, equity needed on ETHS, D65 boards of education

Noreen Edwards Metz

With the approaching retirement of Martha Burns, Evanston’s District 202 school board will have lost three very forceful black leaders in a matter of two years. We now risk having almost completely white boards of education at Evanston Township High School and in District 65.

We frequently decry the lack of color on our boards, both political and volunteer. A Hispanic has never served on either of Evanston’s school boards or on the city council. With the high school’s student body fast approaching 20 percent Hispanic, we are past due having their voice represented in government.

Now we are fortunate to have two people of color running for the school board. Pat Savage-Williams has been an educator for more than 25 years and is a thoughtful and calm voice and a respected member of the black community in Evanston. Elena Garcia Ansani, also an educator, has been a board member at the YMCA and is a leader in the Hispanic community. Her children are also current or future students at ETHS. I think these two leaders deserve two of our votes for the school’s board of education.

There are two other candidates who support the board’s efforts in the area of equity: Bill Geiger, an ETHS graduate and executive director at the YMCA, taught at Haven Middle School and has been a longtime volunteer in Evanston. Casey Miller is an attorney; a smart, thoughtful leader and volunteer in the community. His children are also current or future students at ETHS.

The school’s 2010 efforts at equality are attracting national attention. The freshman restructuring, while not a total solution to the problems at the high school, was a bold, innovative approach to the problem of low achievement by students of color. We have heard much praise from many parents and teachers about this and other work at the high school, and educators across the country view this model as one that might help with school performance nationally.

ETHS is ranked as one of the top schools in the country; we can’t remain there if we don’t continue to try to improve the performance of all of our students. Let’s not take a step backward.

— Noreen Edwards Metz, Evanston resident