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February 21, 2019

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Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Delores Hannan

How to Treat Agers
Charles Wilkinson’s Ten Commandments for Agers offers good advice for those of us who are Agers. I’d like to add a few commandments for those who meet Agers.
1. Please don’t shout at me or speak very slowly. I haven’t lost my hearing or my marbles. If I need you to speak up, I will let you know.
2. Please don’t call me “honey,” “sweetie” or “young lady.” You may not mean to insult me, but it’s patronizing and hurtful to be spoken to like a child.
3. When my friends and I are out to dinner please don’t refer to us as “girls.” We are competent, intelligent women who’d like to be treated that way. I notice the men at the next table aren’t referred to as “boys.”
4. Please look at me. I’m not invisible.
It’s really pretty simple. Treat me as an equal adult human being. I will treat you the same way.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: John Foley

D65: Time For a New Toolbox
Kudo’s to the RoundTable for their intrepid reporting of School District 65’s achievement report.
While the article is detailed, the most salient section is the “% D65 Students on Track to College Readiness.” This shows reading scores declining 6.25% and math scores falling 6.8% over six years.
Regardless of good intentions, this shows that District 65 is not meeting the needs of their students. Regardless of quartile, the goal of District 65 should be collective overall improvement. The goal should be that a student at the 40th percentile should be improving to the 50th percentile and beyond. A student at the 95th percentile should continue to be a high achieving student and their needs addressed as well. By this metric, District 65 is failing.
Do the teachers know how to help a student achieve better results (a harsh question, but given the global decline in results, a fair question)? If so, is this information being disseminated to parents? To what degree is District 65 engaging parents in the education of their children?
Among the more interesting remarks was the Board President’s remark regarding how IEP status of racial groups plays into opportunity gaps. How about looking at our students as just that – students? How about identifying and providing the student with the tools necessary to become an even better student? Whatever tools District 65 is now providing, it isn’t working. It’s time for a new toolbox.
Within the article there is a paragraph that quotes from the Achievement Report, “…the percentage of District 65 students meeting standards on PARCC are higher than the percentages for students in the State…” This is an embarrassing statement when according to the Illinois Report Card, District 65 spends $22,894 per student – for a classroom of 20 students, $457,880 taxpayer dollars are being devoted to educate those students. For the commitment the residents of Evanston have made to education, it is entirely reasonable to expect a better return on our investment and a commitment to overall improvement of all of our students.
Maybe it starts with looking at District 65’s students as students and challenging each student to be the best he or she can be. Not Asian students, not Black students, not Hispanic students, not White students but students.
That is what Martin Luther King, Jr. would have wanted.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Jimmie McRaith

Re: District 65’s Achievement Report
Instead of comparing achievement levels of District 65 students by race and family income, why not compare by the level of education of the parents or caretakers who raise those children from birth to age 5? You may discover the real reason for all those gaps.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Traci Kurtzer

Keeping Victim Services
I am glad that the City Council voted to keep the Victim Services program budgeted for a six month period under the current Health and Human Services department.
Very quickly July will be upon us, and I would like to ensure there are plans to keep this vital City program. If as a community we are not providing adequate victim services, particularly for families of homicide victims, we can cause secondary trauma to those individuals.
For a City that led the country in being one of the first police-based Victim Services programs, a model for many others, a level of concern for keeping this program critical for the well-being of our citizens is imperative.
So first, I ask the City Council to thoroughly evaluate if the current level of service provision in Victim Services is adequate and meeting the same standards as when it was under the Police Department. Second, I ask again that these services be kept under in the City for better accountability. If the need for outside contracting becomes absolutely necessary, coordinating with a program that has a record of working with survivors of homicide, like a program utilized in Chicago, must be the path forward. I say this with the utmost respect for the domestic violence services provided but the YWCA, which I depend regularly in my work.
Last week was Gun Violence Survivors week Feb. 9 marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of Yakez Semark, the first of two deaths by guns in Evanston in 2018. As a Moms Demand Action member, I ask that you honor his death, and all victims of gun violence, with action. That means supporting efforts to reduce gun violence from urging our politicians to support federal and state common sense gun legislation and to also back local programs that support our youth and promote equity in our city.
My husband and I will be moving from Evanston after 20 years. I hope everyone here will continue to work towards that ideal of a City that we just don’t have yet: one of diversity with equity and justice, one in which we make sure everyone is included and cared for as we strive for prosperity and excellence. I will continue to support your efforts as a neighbor from Chicago.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Mike Vasilko

Let's Get The Numbers Straight on Robert Crown
I attended the Robert Crown Center Community Meeting held on Feb. 13 to express my support for the Community Center. The event was well attended by a diverse group of citizens from across Evanston. There appeared to be agreement that the new Community Center was a welcome and long overdue addition to the City’s west side.
However, the majority of the citizens who spoke expressed serious financial concerns about the funding for the project, which in the best case scenario will exceed $60.5 million dollars in bonds and interest on the bonds. This latest debt projection from the City is far less than the $70-$80 million dollar debt projections made just weeks prior a big reduction just in time for this meeting.
How did the debt magically drop? Staff presented a chart showing $10 million of donations pledged to the Friends of Robert Crown Center (FRCC), which will reportedly be used to lower the debt. This revelation again occurred just in time for the Feb. 13 meeting, whereas weeks earlier staff stated they would only count on cash donations that FRCC had “in the bank.” Just weeks ago, cash in the bank was reported to be $4 million, then $4.5 million, then $5 million for Wednesday’s presentation. So what is the real number? Can FRCC provide an audit of its organizations, operations costs, donations and pledges?
There were many questionable statements and alternative facts presented by staff and public officials.
I am pleading for the City Council to get its financial story straight, now “Seven months after Evanston aldermen approved a $53 million plan to build a new Robert Crown Center and six months after construction started...” (as another publication put it), the message and the “facts” keep changing.
Citizens are justifiably confused because there is no comprehensive funding plan in place other than the fear of a huge yearly property tax increase to pay for annual RCC debt service costs. Alderman Don Wilson was unable to answer a citizen who asked about annual tax increases that night.
Two statements of fact (unless it changes) reported by City Staff:
The debt from Robert Crown Center added to other City debt could total $259 million.
Citizens of Evanston are subsidizing the facility’s annual losses averaging $500,000 each year.

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Guestbook entry by: Andrew White

Supports New Crown Center
I wish to express my support for the renovation of the Robert Crown Center, which I believe will be an extraordinary resource that serves the Evanston community for many generations to come.
Like so many Evanston residents, my family enjoyed frequent use of the Robert Crown Center, but I had noticed the (universally acknowledged) wear and tear on the outdated building and its increasingly deteriorating condition, both interior and exterior. Living in south Evanston, this was the best (and only) public facility of its kind close by, with no other nearby, easily accessible options. So a new center that responds to so many varied community needs – providing athletic facilities, a new branch of the Evanston Public Library, community meeting spaces, indoor and outdoor events, just to name a few of the combined elements – is a truly welcome prospect, especially in south Evanston.
I also believe that, contrary to critics’ suggestions, the process for the development of the project has been wholly transparent at each step of the journey. Input and feedback from community stakeholders has been solicited at numerous City Council and community forums, with multiple opportunities for community members to participate in conversations about best use and design of the new center. Indeed, community input had a significant impact on the ultimate design of the project. Further, reaching out to resourced partners like Northwestern University as a means of gathering support for the project is smart, practical, and a sensible way of gathering and maximizing financial support for the project. This is hardly the first joint venture that has sought and received financing from both public and private sources.
Stopping construction, as some suggest, would serve and satisfy no one (except, perhaps, the project’s most vociferous critics). The City should complete the project as designed so that the new building can finally become the wonderful public square and asset that its founders envisioned, one that the people of Evanston need and will treasure long into the future.

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