Dear Parents and Community Members,
Over the past few weeks we have continued to hear from students and parents about instances of racism and discrimination that have occurred in our schools. We are grateful to those who have shared their story. These experiences strike at the core of who we are as educators, and who we strive to be as a system. While it is very difficult to hear these lived experiences, it is important that we do and that we respond to the call for action and change.
Some of these same issues surfaced during the strategic planning process last year, leading us to identify the area of cultural competence as one of the District’s main focuses. As a District, our goal and accompanying action steps are to:
Cultivate an empathetic, inclusive, and equitable school community that values and encourages respect, voice and agency for all students.
• Increase student voice/agency within the K-12 system
• Examine curriculum, instruction, resources, and assessments to ensure that they reflect principles, values, and lessons of inclusivity and equity
• Increase partnerships with community stakeholders
• Teachers/admin/ staff/ students routinely exercise an awareness and understanding of culturally responsive theory and practice
• Align recruitment, hiring and onboarding practices to build a more diverse and culturally proficient staff
While we have taken a number of steps toward these goals during the past school year, we recognize the urgency of dealing with systemic racism and the need to more clearly define action steps and accelerate our work. We are in the process of establishing a partnership with an outside organization that will aid us in aligning and accelerating our efforts toward this end. We anticipate this partnership will assist us in clearly outlining plans to:
• Provide ongoing training for all teachers and staff
• Update curriculum at all grade levels
• Review and address structural policies and practices that create and reinforce inequity
• Engage with students, staff, parents, and our community on issues of racism and bias
• Continue work to establish an environment that does not tolerate discriminatory behavior and hate in our schools
In the meantime we plan to host forums for parents, current, and former students over the next few weeks to ensure that we continue to hear the voices of those that can give us insight into this vital work. We will share more information about these opportunities as details are finalized. Thank you to the brave people that have spoken out. Sunlight is often the best antiseptic. I’m proud to be part of a community that is willing to shine a light where it belongs and step up to do something about it.
Cheryl H. Champ
Superintendent of Schools