Childcare Network Thanks Community
On behalf of the staff at Childcare Network of Evanston (CNE) and Early Head Start, I would like to extend thanks to all who participated in CNE’s “Sponsor a Family for the Holiday” program. Over 150 families and 250 children were given a brighter holiday through the generous donations of toys, baby items, gift cards, and monetary donations. As our offices filled with the multitude of colorfully wrapped gifts, we were filled with appreciation for the communities in which we work and live.
CNE/Early Head Start has been part of the Evanston community for over 40 years and in the past year has expanded into neighboring communities to provide the building blocks necessary to ensure that every child has access to high quality early care and education programs. Research has shown that without this quality care during the early childhood years – birth to five – a child’s chance for future educational, professional and personal success is greatly compromised, thus having a great impact on the stability and overall health of communities. CNE believes in providing children, parents, and teachers with the tools needed to build a solid educational foundation so that every child is ready to succeed in the class room and beyond.
We appreciate your support of programs like “Sponsor a Family,” which does so much to brighten a child’s holiday and to have families feel supported by their community. Thank you to all who participated and may the generous, giving spirit of the holiday season continue throughout the year.
‘Contagion’ Not Deadly To Neighborhood
Regarding his letter to the editor in the January 5 issue, I must opine that Steve Harp is a curmudgeon. There, I said it. Setting aside the somewhat dubious idea that the Matt Damon film “Contagion” will “further pollute our visual and intellectual culture” (this is the same culture that produced “Jackass” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” but I digress), I wonder exactly how much money Mr. Harp needs to be paid to “compensate” for his “inconvenience” during the filming of “Contagion?” That does seem to be the crux of his argument against allowing filming in Evanston.
Evanston has a history of being a part of movies for decades. Native and long-time residents will remember our City being featured in films such as “Road to Perdition,” “16 Candles,” “Uncle Buck,” “Major League,” “Weird Science” and “Home Alone,” to name a few. Many fine and famous actors and artists have hailed from Evanston, including Charlton Heston, John and Joan Cusack, Jeremy Piven, William Petersen, Elizabeth “Bewitched” Montgomery, Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and Ajay “Office Space” Naidu, among others. Why exactly should the City refuse permits for filming here? Because for a few days a few streets were closed down to traffic?
Because it is beyond Mr. Hart’s comprehension why “anyone would care about Matt Damon or where he is or be enthused about “(his) latest piece of drek” being made, let me enlighten him: People care because, at least beyond the ivy-covered walls of your office at DePaul, people like to go to see movies. Drek or otherwise, according to Forbes.com, Matt Damon is “Hollywood’s best investment.” This means he’s a good actor, that he looks good up there on the big screen, and people pay (to the tune of over $850M for the first two “Bourne” films alone) to see him in films.
Really, the filming lasted all of one day, with crews clearing out the following two. Mr. Hart’s claim that area residents were basically forced to live under martial law smacks of self-entitled grousing, over-exaggeration, ridiculous hysteria and insults anyone in this world forced to live under true oppression and martial law. Everyone I know who lives in the direct vicinity (and I do live nearby) was excited about the filming. Every other media piece regarding the filming was positive. The tone of his complaint calls to mind Ralph Hart, doorman on the 70s television comedy “The Jeffersons,” who constantly had his hand out. Roycemore compensated? For what, precisely? You compensated? Why, because you may have had to actually get out of your car and actually walk a block to escort your daughter to school? Preposterous!
I think most Evanston residents are proud that our City merits being chosen for film locations. This ain’t Gary, Indiana, after all (no offense, Gary). Mr. Harp, go shake your cane elsewhere. As for me, I’m going to await the release of “Contagion” so I can join the millions of other cultureless drek-lovers in enjoying Matt Damon, and my home town, on the big screen.
Former Students/Teachers Support ETHS Honors
We support the ETHS plan to “detrack” Freshman Humanities. We applaud the School Board for unanimously voting to support the measure. It will take a lot of work on the part of the talented faculty at ETHS, but we think it will ultimately go a long way toward closing the insidious gap in achievement that has been in existence since we were Wildkits.
Now that the Board has made its decision, we need to rally our resources and good will to support the teachers and administrators who will need every ounce of our energy to make this transition successful. Success means that all students who enter ETHS their freshman year will have an opportunity to prove their mettle, improve their skills, and show that they have what it takes to achieve honors instead of being placed in separate rooms before they’ve written a single paper or read a single assigned book.
We remember how the high school looked when we were students in the 1980s and 1990s. It was a fact that we could walk down the halls and see who was in “regular” classes and who was in “Honors.” We had little idea how we or our classmates got into AP and Honors, but it was clear that there were racial and economic imbalances reflected in those classrooms. From the time we were students until the day one of us left the faculty at ETHS, little changed. Parents who had the cultural capital and powerful connections called the school to demand that their children be placed in Honors courses. One of us taught Honors and AP courses in which there were one, perhaps two, students of color in a section, nearly 20 years after we sat, the lone students of color, in our Journalism Honors courses, and as one of two or three in our AP English courses.
While the plan’s detractors say that this proposal denigrates Honors, Honors is not going away for 9th-graders at ETHS. It will be more meaningful: Students will now officially earn the Honors credit on their transcript. Honor is supposed to be the product of effort, not privileged placement based largely on a test score.
We know that this proposal will require a great deal of work on the part of the teachers. But we have confidence that ETHS can make this work. We grew up in and attended Evanston schools. We know that there are people who honor and live diversity and equity. It is simply not enough that diverse students walk in the halls with each other. If Evanston is a city in which diversity and multiculturalism is truly honored, then our students need to attend a school where they can walk down the halls, look into classrooms and see students at work, not “regular,” “those kids” or “Honors” students, and they need adults who affirm that excellence is achieved, not designated, and not separated by tracks.
--Theresa Squires Collins, ETHS ‘88
Catherine Squires, ETHS ‘90
EPLF Will Work With EPL Board
For over a year, the Evanston Public Library Friends have worked to maintain and improve the delivery of library services throughout Evanston. Our initial task, born of crisis, was to meet the challenge set by the City Council to raise enough money to keep the Library’s two neighborhood branches open for the second half of fiscal year 2010. Thanks to the work of hundreds of volunteers and an outpouring of community support, we met the challenge. The North and South Branches are open now because of EPLFriends.
At the same time, EPLFriends researched and lobbied for Evanston to follow the Illinois Local Library Act. Beginning in 2012, the Library Board will set the budget for the Library in accordance with that law. In the meantime, the final 2011 Library budget dictated by the City Council left the Library with no funding for South Branch (and only partial funding for North Branch). That parting act of the Council, coupled with the loss of the South Branch lease, will force the closure of South Branch as of Feb. 28. And it makes improvement to or addition of new library services in 2011 almost impossible.
Fortunately, this year the Library Board is finally doing much-needed long-term planning, knowing that the plan will not be subject to City budget woes or whims when enacted in 2012. EPLFriends believes that the Library Board’s long-term planning should build on the Library’s strong existing neighborhood services and patron base, rather than destroying or disrupting either.
While planning, EPLFriends encourages the Board to preserve the neighborhood services of South Branch. With a century of history at Main and Chicago, South Branch has a proven utilization rate and established customer base in a neighborhood well served by mass transit. To assist the financially strapped Library Board, EPLF has made an offer to the Board to pay for the design, build out and rental of a temporary South Branch in the Main/Chicago area. We hope the Library Board will accept our offer. It would be ironic, after so much community support, to have South Branch ultimately close at the hands of the Library Board, after surviving the cuts by City Council.
A library branch in west/southwest Evanston is another EPLFriends’ goal that will require analysis, as the Library Board grapples with the myriad potential ways to improve the library system and the budget limitations imposed. The Library Board must not confuse or conflate these two distinct goals: 1) to preserve a fast-growing, cost-effective, existing branch with a strong patron base, track record and need and 2) to determine the location and needs of a new branch elsewhere. We hope that the Board will seek and accept EPL Friends’ continuing offer of support for all neighborhood services.
Solutions for the common good of our community require that we work together. We invite all Evanstonians to join with us in helping the Library Board to develop an even stronger library system that serves the entire community.
-- Ellen Newcomer