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Administrators from across the country visited Evanston Township High School last week to get a firsthand glimpse of the equity work happening in District 202. More than 50 superintendents, principals, and school leaders from as far away as Massachusetts and Arizona attended a mini retreat held on March 5 through 7 through the Minority Student Achievement Network.
MSAN is a national coalition of multiracial school districts that have come together to understand and eliminate achievement gaps that persist in their schools. ETHS was one of the founding members of the group, which started in 1999. Each year, the group organizes a site visit in one of the member school districts.
Pete Bavis, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, and Marcus Campbell, Assistant Superintendent/Principal, told the District 202 School Board about the visit during their March 12 meeting. The goal of MSAN visits, said Dr. Bavis, is to learn about equity initiatives from different perspectives, build relationships with other districts, and gain new knowledge.
Through panel discussions and breakout sessions, ETHS staff led conversations on dress code; detracking and Advanced Placement pathways; the school-wide focus on Black males: what is it and what does it mean; discipline; restorative justice; and HR & Equity: recruitment and retention.
Dr. Bavis said feedback showed the highlight of the conference was a presentation by Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR), where several students, from freshmen to seniors, spoke about their work on school equity, earning them a standing ovation.
“Is there a role for School Board members in this framework?” asked Board member Gretchen Livingston. “Part of doing this work is policy-level stuff that this Board has led the way on.” Ms. Livingston said it would be a good opportunity to bring Board members into the discussions.
Superintendent Eric Witherspoon said there has not been a lot of emphasis on school boards at MSAN, but perhaps there should be.
“I’m so proud,” Dr. Witherspoon told the Board. “Everyone who presented hit it out of the park. Your staff and students represented ETHS well.”