The Daily Northwestern

Evanston officials take action on equity initiatives

Evanston%2FSkokie+School+District+65+superintendent+Paul+Goren+speaks+at+Thursday%E2%80%99s+City-School+Liaison+Committee+meeting.+Officials+presented+ways+school+districts+and+the+city+have+been+taking+action+on+equity.
Evanston/Skokie School District 65 superintendent Paul Goren speaks at Thursday’s City-School Liaison Committee meeting. Officials presented ways school districts and the city have been taking action on equity.

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 superintendent Paul Goren speaks at Thursday’s City-School Liaison Committee meeting. Officials presented ways school districts and the city have been taking action on equity.

Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Allie Goulding/Daily Senior Staffer

Evanston/Skokie School District 65 superintendent Paul Goren speaks at Thursday’s City-School Liaison Committee meeting. Officials presented ways school districts and the city have been taking action on equity.

Nikki Baim, Reporter

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Officials presented ongoing initiatives to integrate an “equity lens” across Evanston schools at the City-School Liaison Committee meeting Thursday.

This school year, Evanston Township High School/District 202 launched a research program in which teachers shadow students of color, while Evanston/Skokie School District 65 began participating in a Beyond Diversity program — a two-day workshop that helps participants address diversity issues.

The actions follow years of discussion about equity problems in Evanston, many of which focused on reports of a wide achievement gap across both school districts.

As of spring 2015, 20 percent of black ETHS students met college readiness benchmarks compared to 86 percent of white students, according to the superintendent’s 2015-16 joint achievement report. Of those who started kindergarten in fall 2014, 33 percent of black students were at or above the state benchmark in literacy skills compared to 75 percent of white students.

District 202 school board president Pat Savage-Williams said “every institution, every district, every agency, needs to take a look at what they’re doing” to properly apply an equity lens.

“Every piece of data we have, every time we look at the data, the black males are at the bottom,” she said. “I really have to applaud the administration for taking that on in a very serious way, looking at how to support black males academically, emotionally, looking at our achievement, looking at discipline and that comes out of the work.”

On Wednesday, 20 ETHS teachers shadowed students of color through a full day of classes, said Pete Bavis, assistant superintendent of curriculum at District 202. The selected students all volunteered, he said.

Bavis said the purpose is to inform teachers what students of color experience daily. He added that the teachers will debrief with facilitators next week.

In District 65, superintendent Paul Goren said nearly 220 teachers, administrators and staff members signed up for diversity training. Goren said the district also revamped its hiring process to include an equity lens in questions for prospective employees.

“We’re honing down on the pipeline of teachers of color,” he said. “We’re using an equity lens on decision making and bringing that forward thinking of impact.”

The city is also taking steps to expand the equity discussion beyond the two school districts. Patricia Efiom, Evanston’s equity and empowerment coordinator, said the city’s Equity and Empowerment Commission will present its “strategic plan” at the Oct. 9 City Council meeting.

The plan was first presented to the city at a Human Services Committee meeting in July and aims to establish equity as the highest priority for City Council. It aims to engage city staff in equity training and asks staff to consider the consequences of budget cuts to more “vulnerable communities,” Efiom said.

“The goal is to have all our staff trained at the end of 2018,” Efiom said. “We’re excited about the bus actually getting moving now.”

Email: nikkibaim2020@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @nikkibaim22

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