Test May Be Misleading


Thank you for the recent thorough and thoughtful article concerning the District 65 presentation of results on the ISAT, MAP and EXPLORE tests.

The presentation and attendant discussion confirmed the ongoing flat performance by African-American and Latino students on the EXPLORE test over the past seven years. While Dr. Murphy confirms that we are teaching to the ISAT test, as the accountability measure for the State and NCLB, I cannot understand why the Board refuses to demand that the District align its curriculum and teaching to the EXPLORE test, which is aligned with the higher goal of ultimate success in college.

Rather than the essentially hopeful position of making the “instructional program robust enough so the EXPLORE scores go up,” as Dr. Murphy indicated, the goal should be to align the curriculum and teaching to the EXPLORE test with the likely concomitant result that the ISAT scores will continue to improve. Such a strategy would also serve two goals in District 65’s recently adopted Strategic Plan: “Ensure District 65 graduates are prepared for high school” and “Strengthen and make more visible a mutually supportive relationship with Evanston Township High School District 202.”  

If the District is going to teach to a test, it should at least teach to the more demanding test. The District and Board do a disservice to our African – American and Latino students by refusing to make this change.

–Mary Rita Luecke, Former District 65 Board Member


A thousand thousand makes a million,

And thousand million are a billion;

Money that was absurd,

Now stimulus buzzword;

One thousand billion is a trillion.

 –Robert Bagby

Haven’s New Library/Media Center


The Grand Opening of Haven Middle School’s Library Media Center (LMC) occurred on Oct. 28. The vision of Amy Odwarka, Haven’s librarian, came to life as the ribbons were cut and the transformation of the dated 1970s library into a state-of-the art LMC was revealed. The renovated LMC is a culmination of a unique collaborative effort where all the “Stars” aligned – the Haven Community of “North Stars,” the PTSA, the Booster Club and District 65.

The Haven Community reached deep in this difficult economy to raise over $65K to date to augment D65’s life-safety renovations. Special thanks to all the Haven families, teachers, administrators and students who tirelessly worked over the past 15 months on fundraisers ranging from a Walk-a-thon, Barnes & Noble Day and Scholastic Book Fair for kids to an evening event for adults with buy-in parties and a Silent Auction.

Sincere appreciation goes to the PTSA and Booster club for their generosity. The PTSA is spearheading a fundraiser on Ja. 30, 2010, to raise an additional $20K to cover remaining construction costs and provide funds for new books.

D65’s terrific trio of Don Stevenson, Eddie Harrison and Bob McNeil oversaw all aspects of the renovation/construction work and the results are outstanding! Without their dedication, attention to detail and management of the project, the finished product would never have materialized.

The guiding force behind the design and overall look of the new LMC space was Joel Stein, a Haven parent and co-owner of S. Stein & Company (a family owned-and-operated office furniture dealership over 80 years old). Joel and Dana Levine (one of the firm’s talented designers) donated time and energy to create a fantastic space plan. The LMC’s beautiful furnishings and finishes were chosen with Ms. Odwarka’s guidance and input.

On behalf of Haven students, we thank everyone as well as Haven’s principal Kathy Roberson, and all the other individuals whose collaborative efforts have resulted in such a wonderful learning space that the children will enjoy for years to come.

— Kathleen Long on behalf of the LMC Fundraising Committee: co-chairs Alison Chiaro, Kathleen Long and Vicki Lydon; Haven PTSA co-presidents, Marion Clemens, Melissa Green and Elizabeth Smiley

Hats Off to Mather


I recently participated in a tour of the new Mather Lifeways (ML) facility located at the northeast corner of Hinman and Davis. As both a neighbor and real estate professional, I want to salute ML for their excellent work on this project. Their work goes above and beyond typical industry standards in several notable ways:

Strong proactive communication with immediate neighbors during construction to minimize issues.

Highest quality materials used on both interior and exterior, resulting in an enduringly attractive classic building.

Below-grade parking and extensive landscaping to create outstanding open space.

Payment of real estate taxes to aid City finances.

I spoke in favor of this project before I moved to the neighborhood. I currently reside on the same block where the Mather is located. Now that the construction cycle is complete, I am proud to re-affirm that support. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the highest-quality large-scale building built in downtown Evanston in the last 15 years. When its sister facility is completed on the southeast corner of Hinman and Davis, downtown Evanston will have a beautiful architectural front door at the lakefront and Evanston’s senior citizens will have one of the best facilities in the country to call their home.

–Kent Swanson