Institutions spend a lot of time defining terms such as equity because it is important to have a common understanding of the term and concept when discussing whether policy or procedures are equitable. The Committee for Equity and Minority Achievement (CEMA), which is a committee comprised of D102 administration, board members, teachers, staff, parents and community members worked together and very thoughtfully developed the following definition of equity for D102. “Equity is defined as the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people achieved by providing all with resources and opportunities that fit their circumstances.”
D102 is committed to equity work and along with CEMA are already working on various areas with an equity lens. This included developing an equity policy which was approved by the board this fall. For those who are not familiar, I encourage our community to review the policy here.
Another example of D102’s commitment to equity is the investment and deep equity work it is doing with the consultant group Corwin. Corwin’s approach is evidence-based and focuses on demonstrating significant positive impact on student outcomes. We’ve also heard how they use the train-the-trainer model so that the district staff will learn the material well enough to train others and continue the work after the contract Corwin expires. The work also focuses on changing culture and climate which is important understanding of how organizations effectively change.
This is an important development in equity work as we see a shift in perception that the problem of inequity lies in our systems, our policies and cultural norms and not with the individual. If the system and policies are inequitable, not inclusive or diverse then the outcomes are going to be too. So as a board, we really have to be willing to look at everything from the top down and ask – is this policy, norm or way of doing things equitable? And if not, be willing to change it so it is.
Equity is also about what each individual needs to succeed so another important factor is two-way communication and understanding what a student needs to succeed is going to be different for different students. A key factor to the success of equity is to involve and dialogue with the student.
We all need to be open to reassessing how we reach our goals – administrators, teachers as well as parents. If the goal is student comprehension of the material, there are many ways that can be accomplished and we should be open to exploring that with our students.
Again I know that all of D102 is committed to this work and along with CEMA are already working on many of these areas with an equity lens. But there is more to do and as a school board member I think it is important to ask the question is this equitable when making decisions on resources and policy, be open-minded about doing things a new way and be a champion for equity in our district in all our decisions.