Happy New Year! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about six focus areas for the district in 2020 and what we should be trying to accomplish in those areas.
Focus Area #1 is EQUITY
There’s been a lot of talk about equity over the last year or so, and a lot of misconceptions about what equity is or isn’t. So let me begin by giving a quick description of what my vision of equity is (and isn’t).
Equity means that all students are welcomed and valued. Equity means that the curriculum in our schools reflects the diversity of experiences that shape our world. Equity means that we have a diverse cohort of teachers, administrators, and other staff. Equity means that all students are held to high expectations and all students are treated fairly when discipline is required.
Equity is not shaming children because of their racial or religious background. Equity is not giving kids of certain backgrounds a “free pass” to misbehave or be subject to lower academic standards. Equity is not indoctrinating children into a particular mindset.
The reality is we’re essentially starting at ground zero here from a district perspective. (Yes, I know folks in the administration love to point out that they’ve been “doing equity” for the last decade. If that had truly been the case, district- and school-level leadership wouldn’t have fumbled the ball so badly during the events of last year.) One thing the district has failed to do is to deliver a coherent and consistent “elevator speech” on why equity work is necessary and why the scare tactics deployed during the referendum campaign are invalid.
In February, the district is expected to roll out its 3-year equity strategic plan focused on five areas identified in the equity audit. It will be critical to track how the strategic plan gets translated into practical, implementable steps at all levels of our schools.
A key component of the plan is expected to be the concept of Building Equity Capacity. This is a critical early step — giving staff at every level of the school a base level of knowledge (and authority) to be able to handle situations with appropriate level of sensitivity and to break down the notion that equity is only the job of certain administrators.