Controversy Erupts Over Evanston Superintendent's Plan to Close Achievement Gap

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The new superintendent of Evanston/Skokie School District 65 says he's received deaths threats from across the county after he told the Wall Street Journal that the district plans to give "students from marginalized groups first priority for seats for in-person learning" and all others would be taught remotely.

In an article entitled "Can School be 'Antiracist?' A New Superintendent in Evanston, Ill., Has a Plan," District 65 Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton said a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students in the school district are struggling, and it's their struggle - not their race - which will get them priority.

This is "about equity for Black and brown students, for special education students, for our LGBTQ students," the superintendent said.

When he joined the district, Horton said the mandate was clear: to close the the achievement gap between Black and white students.

The superintendent let parents know there was a big fight to be had, and it was going to be uncomfortable for a while.

"The community said out of the gate that they wanted to focus on equity..." he said.

The suburban school district began the school year with remote learning in late August. In-person learning is expected to resume Nov. 16, for those who decide to take part.

On Friday, Horton's supporters gathered in Evanston to make their voices heard.

"Some of those attacks have been scathing," said Dr. Michael Nabors, Evanston North Shore NAACP. "There have been threats against Dr. Horton and the vice superintendent of the board. We are here to  support them all."

A petition has also surfaced online, demanding transparency in decision-making from the school district, a clear plan to go back to in-person instruction and continued prioritization of equity in decision-making.

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