Equity in a school setting means that you put systems and policy in place to strive for every learner having an equal chance to succeed. This summer, LT held a special Board meeting to discuss the achievement gap and the lack of belonging among minority groups at the school. In the most recent year of data, the achievement gap was between 37-55 points and 28% of our school is minority students – this combined with multiple accounts of racism and microaggressions is a call to action. Enacting better policies on racial equity and inclusion starts with listening and understanding, which I see as a primary responsibility of serving on the Board.
To start, nine months after LT’s special meeting to address these issues and after meeting with a consultant, the Board released a responsive equity statement. I absolutely agree with everything that was written in the statement, but this was not the racial equity statement that I feel the community was waiting for.
Missing from the equity statement was any mention of race at all – I will advocate that any future statement or resolution around equity should acknowledge the complex and historical factors that have contributed to inequities within District 204.
We must not leave race out or sweep it into a bucket of “all students” if we truly want to make progress in this area. In order to provide equity to marginalized student groups, District 204 should be bold and specific. I will ask for a clear plan, addressing specific opportunities and including measurements of accountability with a concrete timeline.
I’ve been working with a group called Belonging & Equity at LT that helped research ways to make the school more inclusive and to reduce the achievement gap. During my time researching, I read about a resolution around racial equity that was written downstate in Decatur, IL.
I contacted their School Board to get more information and found that their resolution was customized for their district but adapted from several other school districts with similar ideas.
District 204 School Board should work to collaboratively draft a resolution that puts our administration to work on items such as integrating racially/culturally relevant content into curriculum, gathering complaints about racial bias and sharing them with the Board, gathering data on hiring and promotional trends among racial groups for staff, and much more.
Regarding the achievement gap, I met with an award-winning researcher from UC Berkeley who has some intriguing ideas around using data to tackle the problem. If we use data to weigh and quantify “headwinds” (like having a learning difference or being an English Language Learner) against “tailwinds” (like having parents with high education levels and cultural capital), then we can weigh and index this data to determine the support we need for each individual student.
Potential results could include improved integration from feeder schools (assuming they’ll partner with us on this initiative) and improved test scores overall.