Thank you to all who supported our press conference and rally last month and have pledged to help us continue our advocacy work. Since then, a lot has happened:
Meeting with D65 Admin
OPAL Board members met with Dr. Goren and other District 65 administrators and Board members to discuss our three areas of focus:
1. JEH Preschool improvement
One of OPAL's August 21 requests was a plan to improve ISEL test scores of Black and Latinx children at JEH by 50% by 2020. In response, Dr. Goren formed an Early Childhood Task Force, of which OPAL President Roger Williams is a member. The Task Force has met once to date and is scheduled to meet for the second time in January.
2. Hiring more Black teachers
In its August 21 letter to Dr. Goren, OPAL requested that District 65 complete an assessment of the current Substitute Teacher pool to identify Black teachers eligible for hire as permanent, full-time teachers. The District responded with a report on November 6.
Excluding retirees in the current sub pool, there are 6 Black Substitute Teachers who hold the required Professional Educator's License (PEL) to be considered for full-time employment. OPAL will be looking to the District to ensure that eligible and interested teachers in the sub pool are interviewed if they apply, and that the District consider some incentives to prompt teachers of color in the sub pool to apply.
Our next deadline for additional information is December 21, 2017. By then the District says it will implement a hiring plan and retention process for increasing and sustaining Black teachers throughout District 65.
We ask that as your time permits you consider attending a District 65 School Board meeting (the schedule is here) or sending an email to the Board expressing your agreement on employing qualified Black teachers who can help ensure that the District's full-time teaching staff mirrors the makeup of the student population - Board email addresses are here.
3. Assessing the K-3 Literacy Framework
Among OPAL's August 21 requests was quarterly reporting on the K-3 Literacy program, including student progress disaggregated by race, grade, and school, to follow up on the District's September 25 report.
OPAL asked that the first quarterly report be issued by late November, and the District moved the date up to November 6 but has not yet issued the report.
New Demands to Meet Goals
OPAL has added two demands to those listed in our August 21 letter to District 65 for what we believe will greatly facilitate our goals:
- Curriculum, training, and program support of the African-Centered Curriculum (ACC) Program
- Hiring a Director for Black Student Achievement
Scores Fall or Remain the Same
District 65 PARCC scores in math fell by 6 points, as Dr. Goren acknowledged in this article in the Evanston Review. The State of Illinois Report Card for District 65 issued on October 31 showed no change in the Black/White achievement gap from the previous year.
Call & Response: Looking for Black Teachers
Are you a Licensed Teacher in Illinois?
Are you registered as a Substitute Teacher with D65?
Do you know a Licensed Teacher?
Please help us diversify the District's teaching staff.
Email us your resume so we can ensure that D65 is following through on its commitment to hire more teachers of color.