Evanston Schools’ Concept of Equity and “White Supremacy” Raises Questions, Draws Backlash


The superintendent of the Evanston, Illinois schools, laid out a plan for school reopening in the wake of COVID-19 that garnered national attention. The gist was that students from historically marginalized groups would be allowed back to school in-person first.

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 district has since walked that back.

Evanston schools stayed closed when more than half of schools across the country were open. Two frustrated parents who wrote letters to express their frustration with the decision to keep schools closed and question district leadership received responses from the superintendent that accused them of ‘white supremacy.’

Here is an excerpt from his email to the two parents who complained (as reported by North Cook News):

In the world that we live in, I’m sure that you have not had to reflect on your white supremist (sic) thinking and way of life,” Horton wrote in an email. “White Supremacy is no longer the white hooded villain attempting to cause physical harm. You make personal attacks towards me because we are not giving you what you want. I suggest you look in the mirror and reflect on who you are and how you are presenting yourself to an African American leader. I refuse to sit back and be assaulted about my decision making to not return to in person learning especially when the undertone is outright racists.

To read an August email from the school board on the larger issues of racism and equity during a fraught time, click here.

When a vacancy on the school board came up in July of 2019, a former diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for the district was appointed to the position.

Quick links for Evanston Schools:


Can School be ‘Antiracist’? A New Superintendent in Evanston, Ill., Has a Plan Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2020

What Happens When a Slogan Becomes a Curriculum: A curriculum inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement is spreading, raising questions about the line between education and indoctrination The Atlantic, March 14, 2021

Controversy Erupts Over Evanston Superintendent’s Plan to Close Achievement Gap NBC Chicago, October 9, 2020