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home : community forum : community forum - submit/review comments April 29, 2016

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Posted: Friday, April 22, 2016
Community forum entry by: Alyce Barry

Evanston's School District 65 is pretty comfortable promising to erase the achievement gap for the District's students of color, and not so comfortable actually doing what it takes to get that gap erased.
That's my conclusion after watching the District's Policy Committee grapple with suggestions for a new racial equity policy and new District goals that specifically embrace racial equity.
I know change is hard. And I think few people carry through with promises to make hard changes unless someone holds their feet to the fire.
On Monday night April 18th, Evanston's Organization for Positive Action and Leadership (OPAL) held the Committee's feet to the fire on the issue of racial equity.
The suggestions were presented by OPAL's President, Cicely Fleming. She was followed by OPAL Board member Roger Williams, who cited broken promises made in a meeting last December. Four other OPAL supporters spoke to urge the Committee to commit to racial equity.
In the reactions of some Committee members, I heard a distraction I've heard before.
I've got a "Black Lives Matter" yard sign, and the most persistent argument I hear against it is, "Don't all lives matter?"
Of course they do. The sign doesn't contain the word "only." Nobody needs an "all lives matter" sign in their yard because virtually everything in American culture screams that American lives matter. The sign's purpose is to help make visible what has been invisible for too long: that some lives matter a lot less than others to certain police departments and government agencies.
I think the all-lives-matter argument is actually a clever, if sometimes unconscious, distraction from what we really need to talk about. It wants to distract us from talking about race, because the topic of race is uncomfortable for many white people.
I heard that distraction from a Committee member who complained that specifying racial equity dismisses equity concerns for other students, specifically, those who are disabled, English learners or low income, or who have special needs or different gender identities.
I heard this same distraction on February 27th during discussions of District 202's five-year goals.
As Roger Williams pointed out in Monday's meeting, those students have specific laws to protect them. Students of color don't. If they did, District 65 would have been taken to court a long time ago for its achievement gap.
I think this distraction surfaces because talking about race is uncomfortable, and if the discomfort is avoided, so is the change it would help bring about.
A big reason race is uncomfortable for many white people is that it evokes guilt and shame that are hard to handle.
School District 65 has promised for years to fix the achievement gap, and that can't be done by avoiding a discussion of race. Neither can it be done by avoiding the history of broken promises.
Broken promises to the black community are a repeating pattern throughout American history. Since Reconstruction, the US government has promised, and then broken its promise, to protect its black citizens from terrorism, to grant them land, to help them prosper as entrepreneurs, to prove themselves in combat and when returning home to benefit from a veteran's college education and low-interest home loan.
Those last two broken promises in particular have had devastating economic consequences that persist to this day, in preventing black families from amassing the kind of wealth that families accumulate over generations. Today the wealth of the average white family is eight times the wealth of the average black family.
The wealth of a community is directly tied to the success of its education system. Will School District 65 redress the inequity in Evanston? Will it develop deliberate action steps, make their implementation fully transparent, and hold itself accountable for the results?
Or will it break its promise once again?
Alyce Barry



Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Community forum entry by: Virginia L. Beatty

I was delighted to see in the March 24 RoundTable that Mayor Tisdahl and members of Natural Habitat Evanston declared 14 March 2016 as “Monarch Butterfly Day” in Evanston. I especially appreciated the statement in the proclamation that “Evanston has a critical role to play to help save the Monarch Butterfly by providing habitat at public parks, community gardens and municipal buildings that serve as community hubs, such as the Civic Center, Levy Center, Ecology Center, Ladd Arboretum, and the Evanston Public Library.” This is a great start for Evanstonians concerned about our environment. We are grateful to the National Wildlife Federation for sponsoring a “Mayors’ Monarch Pledge” in which city government can commit to creating habitats and educating citizens on how to make our community a happier home for the Monarch butterfly (and other butterfly) populations.
The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is our State butterfly. It was selected in 1975 as Illinois’ official state insect as a result of lobbying done by school children. The Monarch butterfly was then commonly seen around most towns. Last summer, I saw only two Monarch butterflies: one in my backyard and another squashed in a highway oasis parking lot in West Virginia. Monarchs are not the only butterflies being affected. In addition, during that year I saw two Red Admirals and not a single Sulphur.
With the Monarch Butterfly Proclamation, Evanston has pledged to identify at least three specific actions we will take in the next year to help Monarch butterflies and to create an action plan on how we will achieve these goals. If we want to preserve the Monarch butterfly, it is important to preserve the habitat for its whole life cycle. Monarch butterflies and pollinators in general are a growing national interest supported by many businesses and individuals. Pictures of butterflies gathering nectar on beautiful flowers are everywhere. We need to learn more about their requirements and how to interact with all parts of our natural world.
Providing beautiful flowers is not enough. Before one can hope to have a Monarch Butterfly, there needs to be a caterpillar. Butterflies, the adult stage, will gather nectar from almost any flower. On the other hand, caterpillars, the larval stage, are very conservative. They have favorite foods (host plants). If you get rid of their specific host plants, you reduce the number of caterpillars. Just any plant won’t do no matter how beautiful or expensive. Killing the “worms” on plants will prevent the “worms” from becoming butterflies.
I have noted the mysterious removal of understory plants in Ladd Arboretum and Patriot’s Park by unknown individuals along with the continual planting and encouragement of Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) an immigrant from Europe and Asia. Bluegrass is not native to the United States. Its sod reduces water absorption, increases runoff, and requires much maintenance and chemical applications. At a community work day in Centennial Park along the lakefront, City personnel asked a small group of us to remove a large clump of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). This plant is an important host plant of the Monarch butterfly. We care. We also need to learn more about our environment.



Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Community forum entry by: Betty Ester

The claims and hopes of the proposed Neighborhood Integrity Ordinance and Disturbing the Peace Revision are misguided. The ordinance is designed to further marginalize the single, low-income and mostly black women in Evanston. It does not address, nor will it curtail, the violent and criminal behavior in any neighborhoods here in Evanston. This ordinance will have a harmful effect on single, low-income and mostly black women in keeping their rental units.
This ordinance has no language as to what safety, moral and health issues it will prevent or correct. If there are safety, moral and health concerns about certain landlords managing their property, why didn’t the City tell the tenants this before now or at least in 2007 or 2012, when the nuisance premises ordinance was amended? As of today, there have been no reports of crimes due to the above concerns with landlords.
This ordinance is the City’s attempt to get around obtaining a search warrant as required by the Fourth Amendment. It will deprive renters of privacy and the liberty of not having someone at their door every year to do unlawful searches under the guise of safety, moral and health concerns which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
There has to be a better way to tackle the issue of violence in the neighborhoods. Have a real conversation with the residents in your neighborhood.



Posted: Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Community forum entry by: LIndsay Perceval

Stop, Drop and Read!

Did you know young children need to hear 1,000 stories read aloud before they begin to read themselves? The Evanston Early Childhood Community is trying to raise the level of awareness and collaboration around the importance of reading with our children at an early age to build a strong foundation of literacy skills. On April 13 at 10:15 a.m., children in early childhood programs and home day cares throughout Evanston will Stop, Drop & Read!, no matter where they are, all at the same time. Inspired by the Cradle to Career initiative, this effort is being coordinated by the Early Childhood Director’s Council which represents 33 early childhood programs, including District 65’s preschools and Evanston home day cares. Please grab a few favorites and join our community as we Stop, Drop, & Read!
Participating agencies:
School for Little Children, Reba Early Learning Center, IWSE Baby Toddler Nursery, Child Care Center of Evanston, Barbereux School, District 65 Family Learning Center, Cherry Preschool, Roycemore School, Toddler Town Day Care, Covenant Nursery School, Kim Robinson Home Day Care, Unity Nursery School, JRC Early Childhood Center, Beth Emet Synagogue Early Childhood Program, Northminster Nursery School, Total Child Preschool and Childcare Center, CNE family advocates, and KinderCare Learning Center



Posted: Monday, April 4, 2016
Community forum entry by: Junad Rizki

What’s really going on with the Tallmadge Lamping fixtures?
City staff recently wrote a memo, to purchase 14 new fixtures, we have over 4,000 of these fixtures, and their replacement cost without labor is over $5,000 per fixture. Thus if we need to replace the over 4,000 fixtures the cost will be over $30 million dollars.
Staff memo as usually was vague to the problem, other than claiming they were looking into plastic fixtures. My question is what are they doing to maintain the existing fixtures? I looked at a fixture that recently came down in the wind, by my house. The entire core at the base had rusted out. It appears to me, if this had been maintained, that is the lower cap removed and painted maybe this could have been prevented.
We are sitting on a $30 million dollars problem, what is the city manager doing? $30 million dollars translates in to a real 5% property tax increase. We all know the city manager wants to waste 3-5 million dollars on unnecessary Theatre project on Howard Street. He has staff working on the Howard Project wasting time, but who is working on the street lights?

( I took a photo if you would like to post it)



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