ISAT Hoax

Editor:

Many thanks to Larry Gavin (and Paul Zavitkovsky of the Urban School Leadership Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago) for his illuminating public service article revealing the story of the ISATs. 

Every citizen should now be aware of the low standards set for students to reach the “meet standards” benchmark.  Instead of being an achievement, this rating has long been viewed by many teachers as a red flag. 

Unfortunately, the public has not understood the full picture and has assumed that this standard was indeed the measure by which teachers, administrators and students should be evaluated. 

We can only hope that Evanston’s school boards and administrators will now use test performance data analyzed by normative measures (comparing District 65 students to all other Illinois students) to understand student test performance. 

We also hope these articles will cause educators and the public to re-examine common test preparation practices adopted in District 65. Students should be engaged in real work realizing the joys of learning.  This approach would minimize test preparation and focus student attention on authentic work.  Aiming for higher ISAT scores has not served students or their families well.

— Vikki and Sheldon Proctor

Partnership, Professionalism, Pride

Editor: 

I’d like to shine a light on the events of Saturday evening/Sunday at the McGaw YMCA. The partnership between the YMCA, the City of Evanston – fire department, parks and rec., and City officials (the Mayor and City Manager were out in front of the YMCA at midnight offering their support) – and American Red Cross was amazing. Once the decision was made to offer alternate housing for our resident members, it took a remarkably short time for the Robert Crown Center to be opened and staffed, a City van and driver ready to go, and Red Cross volunteers to have cots, bedding, food, and comfort kits ready and waiting. The people and processes were professional every step of the way. We all have reason to be proud – when we needed partnership and professionalism most we got it. A huge thank you to all.

        — Bill Geiger, Executive Director

Ed. Note: For stories about the fire at the McGaw YMCA, visit evanstonroundtable.com

Thanks to All

Editor:

The YWCA Evanston/North Shore would like to thank everyone who ran, walked or volunteered on Sunday, June 20, at the 11th annual Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate. The support given made this year’s race the largest ever, with over 3,700 participants representing 105 cities and towns, 16 states and 3 countries joining the YWCA to advocate for an end to racism and violence. 

It was Ricky Byrdsong’s lifelong love of sports and his work with young people that inspired his family to launch the Race Against Hate after he was murdered in a tragic hate crime, and it is the YWCA’s focus on eliminating racism that motivates us to continue the race each year.  Staging the race would not be possible without many hours of staff and volunteer time, generous sponsors and the support of both the City of Evanston and Northwestern University. We value coming together to remember that violence, racism and intolerance affect us all, and that we must learn to live together peacefully. 

Our mission is to create gender, racial and economic equality in our communities by empowering women and eliminating racism.  The Ricky Byrdsong Memorial Race Against Hate both brings us together to work toward that goal and provides funding to support the YWCA’s racial justice initiatives and violence-prevention programs in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the North Shore and surrounding suburbs year round. We couldn’t do it without a supportive and compassionate community! Thank you.

–Karen Singer, Executive Director

YWCA Evanston/North Shor

Residents Clash Over Gabel’s “No” Vote

Editor:

In my letter to the RoundTable published June 26, I expressed my dismay that newly appointed state representative, Robyn Gabel (D-18th) had voted to kill Senate Bill 2494, a bipartisan bill, which if enacted would provide thousands of poor minority children trapped in the worst – performing  Chicago public schools the opportunity of attending a private school of their choice.  

Judith Treadway’s letter in response claims that Representative Gabel’s vote was “fiscally sound,” “reasonable” and “for the greater good of the whole community.” First of all, providing vouchers to more than 30,000 poor families at $3,700 a year would create substantial taxpayer savings, given the far greater costs of providing a public education for these children. 

Moreover, since when is condemning children to failing schools in the interest of “a greater good of the whole community”? 

I submit that there is no merit in Ms. Treadway’s claim that Rep. Gabel’s “no” vote shows her true “independence.” Rather, her vote shows that she caved in to union opposition to S.B. 2494 because it would change the status quo. 

Rep. Gabel’s so-called “independence” also comes into question, given the fact that public employee unions contributed more than $13,000 to support her recent primary campaign. 

Perhaps, Rep. Gabel should be listening more to Democratic Senator James Meeks, a sponsor of S.B. 2494, who stated:

“To me education is a moral issue, and we’re offering a humane answer from people of both parties and of all colors who think it’s a moral tragedy to see three generations of Chicago children go without a real education.”                  

— Bob Atkins

On Town/Gown Relatinos

Editor:

I am a lifelong born-and-bred Evanston resident. My family and I live in a modest home right in the middle of an off-campus neighborhood packed full of student housing on Gaffield Place. We interact with the student population every day and night. The past few years I have worked in Downtown Evanston and walked to work most days, right down Sherman – with students hurrying to and from class. I have a few observations that I wish to share.

I am in favor of the proposed light on Sheridan Road and of any project where the University is investing in the safety of its students, faculty and visitors as well as the Evanston Community. I believe this is an activity that should be encouraged and the eventual success may well lead to future projects that the University takes a lead on. Imagine if they were to add a few more lights along Sheridan. Would it really hurt us? Probably not. In fact, if they were tied into this new system that is going to be installed, it should improve traffic flow and increase safety for all of us. I believe the City should be partnering with the University on this project; we should make it easy for them to spend money on public infrastructure now and in the future.

On the other hand, the University should be doing a much better job of regulating the activities of its students during Dillo Day. The concert that the school hosts is alcohol-free, as is the entire campus. Students spend the day getting plastered and destroying the neighborhood, while the City and campus police are asked to stop public drunkenness and loud parties. Lots of force is shown and I’m sure lots of money spent, but there are still major disturbances caused in the neighborhood.

The University has, over the years, increased its oversight of these activities and they have worked with neighbors to address some concerns. Things are better now than they have been in the past. However, not enough is being done. The school should make this an on-campus event, where they can better control and contain the behavior of their students. Many colleges and Universities have found it useful to host parties like this on campus, allowing and controlling the distribution and consumption of alcohol and not let things get out of control. By containing the behavior, it is easier to patrol and police what is going on. Having the majority of the drinking going on in the neighborhoods encourages dangerous and disruptive behaviors, like public consumption (paper bags and red plastic cups are containers of choice), DUIs, property destruction, litter and loud parties, and the like.

— Josh Newman

Library Sidewalk

Poem Project

Editor:

Our eighth-grade class on “poetry”

Learned rhyme and rhythmic prosody.

True verse contained specific feet

A matching line prolonged the beat

Without a rhyme it was blank verse

But lack of rhythm was still worse.

As Jack and Jill went up that hill

Its author showed a rhythmic skill.

“The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”

Those limericks as per Edward Lear

And Kilmer’s thoughts about a tree –

These famous works showed pedigree.

With sixty years, or more, elapsed

An art near lost as rules by passed

And cheap free verse, to my regret,

Is hailed and termed as “Laureate.”

Since dumbing down today’s the way

It lets some think they write okay.

Now blindly led, we’ve ovine chose

On one haiku, the rest plain prose.

True poets know, with contest done

That proper verse has just not won.

Thus I propose, with earnest voice,

This Public Art be people’s choice.

— Robert Bagby

Props for Anne Bodine

Editor:

As usual, Anne Bodine has captured the essence, message, and spirit of her interviewee. It is clear that Anne carefully listens and reports not just the facts, but also the heartfelt mission of each Evanston enterprise she visits.

— Kate LaRiviere