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Which Evanston elementary school for our son?


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Anonymous January 17, 2010


What Evanston school is best for our EXTREMELY bright, artistic, science-loving, but emotionally difficult and mildly dyslexic son, entering 3rd grade? He's currently in a great Quaker private school in another city whose small classes, emphasis on social justice, arts and science fit his needs and ours very well.

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healthy11 January 17, 2010


Hi. I'm in the Chicago NW Suburbs, so I can't speak about Evanston's schools, but I did want to invite you to join Greatschools Learning and Attention Difficulties Group at http://community.greatschools.net/groups/11554, as well as to look at the resources under the "2e" twice exceptional group, http://community.greatschools.net/groups/16042

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Phillyprof January 17, 2010


Thanks, healthy11! These both look like great resources.

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drjohnson January 18, 2010


I assume that you are trying to decide where to move to within Evanston? I'm also not sure exactly what you mean by mild dyslexia.

Here are the web sites for all of the schools in Evanston:
http://www.d65.k12.il.us/

www.stathanasius-evanston.org

www.popejohn23.org

www.roycemoreschool.org

www.bakerdemschool.org

www.schoolsk-12.com/Illinois/Evanston/GreatOaksSchool.html

www.chiaravalle.org/

www.ctd.northwestern.edu/


I'll start with the private schools:

Chiaravalle is the local Montessori school. It's great for students who are self-motivated. I doubt if they do too well with LDs.

Great Oaks is a very very small Waldorf school. If you're into Rudolf Steiner and his very much out of the main stream ideas, then it might fit. There's a biggerWaldorf school on the north side of Chicago.

Pope John XXIII is the Catholic school on the sout end of town. since that's my end of town, I've heard various things about it. Some good, some bad. It's usually the first stop for folks who are unhappy with the public school.

St. Athanasius is the Catholic school on the north side.

Roycemore is K-12 and might be what you're looking for. It's very very small, and usually chosen for kids who need a bit more attention, who perhaps don't cope well with large schools.

Baker Demonstration school is on the border with Evanston & Wilmette. It's usually chosen by parents who feel their kids need more challenge. I do know that they havekids with mild LDs, but I don't thinkthey're the best choice for anything complicated.

I also included the Center for Talent Development even though it's not really a school. Butif your son is gifted in some areas like science, this would be the place to go for summer or after school enrichment. So maybe he would fit in better in one school generally, but still need some extra challenge in his areas of strength.

There are also Jewish schools nearby, but none in Evanston itself.



The Public Schools are District 65. All of these schools are pretty large, say 400 students give or take 75. Most people have a sort of love/hate relationship with this district. They do NOT have a great reputation for special ed. So if you son has an IEP, you might want to consider living in Wilmette instead, for public schools. But Wilmette is more expensive and less diverse.

There are 10 local attendance area K-5 elementary schools. In most cases, these are "walk-to" schools. Which is very nice in this day & age.

There are also two magnet schools, King Lab and Bessie Rhodes which are K-8. They were originally begun to enable the district to balance the racial make-up of their schools by attracting students from schools that were overwhelmingly one race or another. King Lab was supposed to be an arts oriented demonstration school. Bessie Rhodes was supposed to be "Back to Basic". But things have changed. It was decided that choosing students based on race was illegal, plus the curricula for all of the schools has evolved to be pretty much identical. Getting into a particular magnets school can be complicated and may not be worth it anymore.

Plus there are 2 magnet programs. The ACC is the Afro-Centric Curriculum, a pilot program located at Oakton school on the south end. The TWI, Two-Way Immersion program teaches bilingually in Spanish. This program has proven to be very popular and is offered in about 5 schools. Both of these programs draw from the entire district in a lottery type system.

All of the public schools may be large, but that doesn't mean the class sizes are. The class sizes vary tremendously based on the enrollments and number of classrooms available at any given school. So a lot depends on luck. My kids went to Oakton school and had as few as 8 kids for one of my twins in kindergarten, and as many as 25 in 5th grade. Most years, the class size was in the teens.

All schools offer daily gym, and a rotation of arts including art, music, drama, library science. Also band, orchestra & chorus.

Each school, though having the same curriculum, evelops it's own culture depending on the Current principal and the current PTA membership. For example, Oakton has traditionally had a Drumming ensemble and has a special relationship with a local music school which comes in to give specialized presentations based on the music curriculum. That's been very special. Most PTAs try to bring in an Artist-in-Residence to do special projects with the kids. Oakton, hosting two specialized ethnic programs, has a more multi-cultural feel.

However, there remains a huge achievement gap between whites and minorities. This can affect the aggregate achievement scores for schools with a majority of minority students. Keep this in mind when evaluating schools. Look at the breakout for the demographic which matches your son. For white students, I don't think it makes much difference which school your child attends, as far as test scores. If you are African American or Hispanic, I would try to make sure your child gets into a school on the north side, or into one of the magnet schools or programs. The schools with the most minority students tend to have the biggest achiement gaps.

As for social justice, we don't have anything like the Quaker schools on the East coast. Evanston is a very diverse suburb filled with university types and a historic politically active NAACP. Sometimes I think we're the epicenter of international and inter-racial adoptions as well. Social justice is not something that is idealized from afar, but wrestled with every day.

If you have any more questions, e-mail me at drjohnson@fastmail.us.




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