Evanston board of education evaluates plan to alter high school honors programs

Evanston board of education evaluates plan to alter high school honors programs

Evanston parents will get a chance on Monday to sound off on a controversial proposal to eliminate some freshman honors classes at the city’s public high school. The measure is designed to address concerns of a lack of diveristy in such classes.

Deborah Graham has a son who will be a freshman at Evanston Township High School next year. Graham’s also a member of the district’s board of education, which is considering a move to alter some freshman humanities honors classes.

“ETHS has, in some ways in the past, functioned as two different schools—one for white students and one for students of color,” said Graham.

To tackle that quagmire, the board hired Eric Witherspoon in 2006 as the high school’s superintendent and gave him the mandate to come up with a plan to address racial equity at Evanston Township High School. Witherspoon is now proposing to merge some freshman honors classes with regular classes. He believes teachers will be able to handle classrooms with students coming from different learning tracks.

“Teachers have always understood that in any class, no matter how narrow of a band you try to create, you still have a range of students in every class,” said Witherspoon.

The board is expected to vote on the proposal at its Dec. 13 meeting.