Wall Street Journal

CAN SCHOOL BE ANTI-RACIST ‘? A NEW SUPERINTENDENT IN EVANSTON, ILL,HAS A PLAN. After racial-justice protests across the country, schools examine curriculum, hiring and approach to teaching

By Douglas Belkin and Lee Hawkins  Oct. 6, 2020

EVANSTON, Ill.—This summer, school superintendent Devon Horton told the residents of this city north of Chicago that for “oppressed minorities,” the coronavirus was only the latest chapter in their long history of persecution—the pandemic of “inequity and racism and classism” had been holding them down for a lot longer.

In recognition of the impact of racism, Dr. Horton said, Evanston schools would give students from marginalized groups first priority for seats for in-person learning and all other students would be taught remotely. This is “about equity for Black and brown students, for special education students, for our LGBTQ students,” he said during a public meeting, held via Zoom.

The comment generated angry letters and death threats from both residents and nonresidents of Evanston, Dr. Horton said in subsequent interviews. He said he reported the threats to police and is considering getting a security detail for members of his staff. He also said that a disproportionate number of Black and Latino students are struggling in school and it is that struggle—not their race—which will get them priority.

“There’s a big fight to be had and it’s going to be uncomfortable for a while,” he said. …

Dr. Horton said he wouldn’t hire a teacher who didn’t support the district’s antiracist agenda and said he doesn’t believe teachers should be licensed by the state if they aren’t trained in antiracism. “If you’re not antiracist, we can’t have you in front of our students,” he said.

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