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

The Daily Northwestern

54° Evanston, IL
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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Bessie Rhodes parents demand preservation of K-8 magnet program in letter

Parents+specified+they+did+not+oppose+the+construction+of+the+5th+Ward+school%2C+but+instead+supported+initial+plans+for+the+TWI+program+to+be+relocated+to+this+school.+
Daily file photo by Oreste Visentini
Parents specified they did not oppose the construction of the 5th Ward school, but instead supported initial plans for the TWI program to be relocated to this school.

In a letter sent to the Evanston/Skokie District 65 school board Wednesday, parents at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies expressed concerns over the future of the magnet program.

The Bessie Rhodes School houses a K-8 magnet Two-Way Immersion program. In 2022, District 65 announced plans to close the current Bessie Rhodes school building, located in Skokie, and relocate the TWI program to the new 5th Ward school, which is still in the construction phase. This “school within a school” model would preserve the TWI program as it currently exists.

However, at a community meeting held on Sept. 21, District 65 officials announced that the new 5th Ward school may become a K-5 school rather than a K-8 school. In the letter, parents pointed out that this would jeopardize Bessie Rhodes’ two-way model. 

With District 65 expecting bid results on the first round of construction for the new school, parents demanded the Bessie Rhodes K-8 two-way magnet program be preserved in the district. Parents specified they did not oppose the construction of the 5th Ward school, but instead supported initial plans for the TWI program to be relocated to this school. 

“The complete lack of clarity surrounding the future of our school — all of which has been created by the District and the School Board — has fostered instability and confusion within our school community,” the letter reads. 

The TWI program as it currently exists offers opportunities for native Spanish speakers to advance in school at the same rate as their native English-speaking peers, the letter points out. Parents said the K-8 model allows more time for students to fully flourish in the program. 

According to the letter, District 65 officials noted at the Sept. 21 meeting that the TWI programming for students in grades 5-8 would be incorporated into other middle schools starting in the 2027-28 school year. The 5th ward school is set to open for the 2025-26 school year. 

At a Wednesday meeting of the City-School Liaison Committee, Brandon Utter, one of the authors of the letter, gave a presentation highlighting the main points of the letter. The committee, which consists of several Evanston city councilmembers and members of the District 65 and Evanston Township High School District 202 Boards of Education, did not respond to Utter’s comments during the rest of the meeting.

“Moving forward with deviations from the plan from March 14, 2022, would be a violation of trust and partnership with the teachers, parents and students of this community,” Utter said. “And so ultimately, it comes down to the students… We must not allow Bessie Rhodes and the K-8 TWI model to be collateral damage in the redistricting process.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @lilylcarey

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