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home : community forum August 27, 2016

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Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Community forum entry by: Carolyn Laughlin

Our ‘Gap’ Isn’t a Mystery
Having lived 30 years in Evanston with perennial hand wringing over “the gap,” I say it’s time to stop. The disappointing academic performance of Evanston’s low-income black students is never a surprise and may always be with us. Why? I believe our “gap” is attributable to the following beliefs held by many white Evanstonians:
1. Low-income black students begin school so far behind, and come from such chaotic households, that no investment can make a real difference in their academic outcomes. The real answer is in the home life of these students. We care, but it’s out of our hands.
2. Resources are finite. Investment in boosting outcomes for low-income black students reduces investment in more affluent white students. We care, but when the School Board hosts focus groups and sets priorities, we put our own students’ interests first.
3. We can’t close the achievement gap, but we make up for it. We show how much we care by donating clothes to ESCCA and writing checks to Y.O.U.
We don’t talk about these beliefs. But these beliefs underlie our actions, most importantly the way we leverage our political power. It influences who we elect to the School Board, what the School Board expects from the superintendent, what the administration requires of school principals, and how our principals manage our classroom teachers. It all begins with the voters of Evanston, and our beliefs hold us, and low-income black students, back.
These beliefs are fallacious. Students who begin behind can and do make significant strides with strong and capable teachers. Dollars are always finite, but great teachers impact an entire classroom of students. Finally, handouts plug holes, but can never substitute for a hand up, and a way out.
Our “gap” isn’t a mystery. Evanston could close the gap if we thought we could, we made it the priority, and we held our board, administrators, and teachers accountable for doing the necessary work. Until that time, we only have



Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Community forum entry by: Thomas Witt

Independent Map Amendment
By late August, the Illinois Supreme Court will have ruled on whether the Independent Map Amendment will be submitted to voters this November.
We all recognize that Illinois government is in a sorry state – and it certainly hasn’t helped that our state’s elected representatives have essentially been able to pick their voters behind closed doors.
The Independent Map Amendment is a thoughtful reform of the rules and promises to change that process. Until now, however, opponents (incumbents) have bottled up this citizens’ ballot initiative in the courts based on an extremely narrow and unfounded reading of the Illinois Constitution.
Yet more than 563,000 Illinois voters signed a petition supporting the Independent Map Amendment. A diverse coalition of business, consumer, and public interest organizations submitted a “friend of the court” brief urging the Court to allow a vote on it. And a great many newspaper editorial boards around the state have written in support of it.
If the Court does in fact uphold the amendatory rights of Illinois voters granted them by the state constitution, we can expect an unrelenting campaign by opponents to maintain the status quo, joined by some who will argue that the Independent Map Amendment could be improved upon and therefore isn’t worth supporting.
But this could be (literally) a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform the way the electoral process works in Illinois – let’s not blow it.



Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Community forum entry by: Leo Lanyon

Water Testing
The Evanston RoundTable published a summary of the water testing that resulted from the community demanding additional water testing at the June 16 community meeting.
It appears from the article that the Dodge Avenue residences that had their water line repaired (in 2015) did not show any elevated chemicals. Homes that did not have their water main replaced have tested positive.
Additionally, Dawes School is now testing positive.
The EPA standards for water supply safety are not based on scientific data, but are based upon industry guidelines from the early 1990s.
It is clear from this testing that the contaminated water mains are still adding chemicals to the water supply.
It should be clear to the City that all water lines near the contaminated gas pipelines must be replaced as soon as possible. We should have the same quality of water as the City.



Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Community forum entry by: Dick Lanyon

Gas Plant Date Correction

In reference to the Aug. 11 article on page one, the manufactured gas plant was built in 1910, so it couldn’t have been active or in operation in the 19th century, unless there was an earlier plant that was preceded by the 1910 plant. It was active through the 1940s and inactive thereafter. Demolition of the structures was completed in the 1960s. This information is from the records of the MWRDGC, current owner of the site, and is further explained in my book, “Draining Chicago, The Early City and the North Area,” on pages 90, 128 and 129.



Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2016
Community forum entry by: Augusta Bloom

Ab’s Early Years
I read John Opdycke’s letter about Ab Mikva in the July 28 issue of the RoundTable with great interest. I’d like to add comments about Ab’s start in Hyde Park.
When the long-time representative from the Illinois legislature decided to retire, the Independent Voters of Illinois (IVI) tasked itself to find a suitable replacement. They invited possible contenders, who agreed to abide by the IVI choice, to be interviewed.
Ab turned out to be that choice. He was handily elected and, as the saying goes, “The rest is history.”
On a personal note: Our then two-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, also started her political involvement then.
One evening, as we passed his campaign poster in our window, she pointed to Ab’s picture and said, with obvious approval, “Ab.”



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