Common Sense, Not Wind Farm, Needed


The City does not need wind-farm experts; it needs common sense. I would want to have the phone number of the person who will go out into the lake in a winter storm, among crashing ice floes to fix the thing.

     John Tuzon

Students’ Side


The guest essay by Emma Milliken was great. (08 Dec 2010 issue) Having a voice from the student side should help get this issue to be a non-issue.

–Jim Weiland, ETHS Class of 58

Up to the Challenge

First, I applaud Dr. Witherspoon for the bold recommendation that challenges us to put excellence within reach of every ETHS student and to recognize the promise that this will bring with respect to equity in the classroom. Second, I want to recognize the Board and all members of the community for the courage to engage in this important conversation.

I am strongly in favor of creating greater opportunity for higher achievement for all students. I find this a powerful and inspirational vision. As an ETHS graduate, parent of a recent grad, and a citizen of Evanston, I further support the on going efforts to create a more academically inclusive institution.

It appears clear to me that a great deal has been done to prepare for this next step. The attention to enhancing the curriculum, recognizing the need for teacher training and support, and realizing that students (and parents) will require support are all critical.

I have been convinced that ETHS is up to the challenge to provide the additional resources – perhaps more correctly, the re-allocation of scarce resources – to assure successful implementation. Now, we need to convince ourselves that, indeed, excellence is within reach, that as a community we will work together to achieve this vision of higher achievement for all students and a more inclusive ETHS.

–Bill Geiger

Testing the Waters


Clearly, Emma Milliken entered ETHS at the top of her game – congrats on the 98th percentile score on the Explore test and 31 on the ACT freshman year. It was clearly an adventure for her to test the waters in the mixed level, multicultural environment and still qualify for Junior AP classes. My question is, how many of your remedial compatriots did you elevate to your level of achievement? Are any of your “regular” classmates in sophomore humanities participating in AP courses junior year? It’s understood Emma sees herself as “Huck”, but it leads one to wonder if her “Jims” ever made it off the raft. 

–Jean Olson

Still a Need for a West Branch Library


On Dec. 8 several residents from West Evanston addressed the Library Board relative to the viability of branch libraries in Evanston, and specifically, the relocation of the South Branch library.

It is no secret to anyone paying attention to this issue that there remains a great unmet need for Branch library services on the west side of Evanston. This part of Evanston has been without a branch for over 30 years.

In an ideal world there would be funds sufficient to support not only two, but three or four branches of equal size and service.  Clearly we are not living in an ideal world.  All of us are living with fewer dollars, as is the library board.  Just as we are having to prioritize and triage our financial decisions these days, based less on what we want and more on what we need, we asked that the board use the same criteria as they look at where to locate branch libraries.

We came to the meeting strongly suggesting to the board that it was past time for the South branch to become the West branch and that the ideal central-west location would be the Evanston Plaza at Dempster and Dodge.

This was a move that began 10 years ago, initiated by the library board itself, as noted in a RoundTable article of July 3, 2001, titled: “South Branch may find new home … may leave its current location and relocate to the Evanston Plaza … an area that significantly underutilizes library services at present. “

Many times over this past decade we have wondered about the forces that combined to derail the effort to move the south branch to the west, and it was no doubt a complex set of factors: always money, organized opposition from those who naturally wanted to hold onto a branch in their neighborhood, lack of political will, absence of courage. 

What we didn’t know coming into this meeting was that the library board has only funding sufficient to sustain the main library and ten months of the North branch, which they voted to fund for six months.  The remaining four months of funding was left  unallocated.  Given the current financial limitations of the library board, creative approaches will be required to ensure the continuation of any branch in our city. 

As the board begins that pursuit, we urge them to find ways to also create a more balanced and equitable system of delivering library services, guided by the essential principals of greatest need, fairness and equal access to cultural, intellectual and informational services.

–Dickelle Fonda, Nancy Floy, Adam Finlayson and Rev. Blair Hull

Kids With a Passion


I have to write of how disappointed I am in the recent decision to penalize high-achieving students to fix the serious issues of racial disparities in educational outcomes.  Nowhere in the readings I have done or meetings attended has anyone explained how putting kids with a passion for learning in the same room with kids who don’t care helps those who want to learn.  While it may possibly help the low-achievers, the high-achievers are likely to stop.  I know this from personal experience and from watching my child be bored all through elementary and middle school.  My eighth grader cried when she read the story. “High school is going to suck,” she said.  “I’m going to be bored there too.”  I tried explaining how differentiated instruction is supposed to work, but she just gave me a look.

What I was particularly disappointed in was that no one seemed to address the root issue.  Rather than looking at why minority students are not qualifying for honors programs, the honors programs are eliminated.  My child is mixed race, so I don’t know where she would be categorized.  But I do know the middle school classes are mixed, and their test scores do not show the disparity of the ETHS scores.  That’s the real tragedy, and I am disappointed the discussion focuses on how horrible it is that white kids excel.  No, what’s horrible is that other groups aren’t being pushed to rise to higher levels.  Why not give everyone goals and a desire to succeed?  This decision in one fell swoop penalizes those with that desire and does nothing to create incidents for others to obtain those desires.

So, now my “scoring in the 98th percentile” child is dreading high school.  I guess we’ll have to find ways to keep her interested in learning that don’t involve the school, because obviously the District does not care about her.

–Dori Dinsmore