CHCCS has been developing an equity plan for its schools for over a year. The plan was originally designed to address racial inequity, but has since been revamped to include other types of inequality such as gender and nationality.
“So if we look at what colleges and universities are really doing, this actually affects all of us, not just one person, but every single one of us—that they’re preparing teachers to teach primarily English-speaking white students who come from a middle class, two-parent, heterosexual, Protestant Christian home,” said Sheldon Lanier, Director of Equity Leadership for CHCCS. “So if you do what I always like to say and you marinate on that statement, then think about every single child in this district who doesn’t fall into that category.”
Lanier presented the updated version of the plan to the Board of Education Thursday. The last time the plan went before the Board in December, members decided to push back voting until it included more details. Lanier said a major part of the plan is that newly hired teachers will immediately dive into understanding equity.
“The very first day that they come in, they’re going to have a day of nothing but me,” he said. “Before they get any other type of HR or introduction to the district, they’re going to get an introduction to equity, because we definitely want to make sure they realize and they understand that we are about the work.”
The work will include everything from fair discipline policies to equity-related professional courses for teachers. But Board Member Andrew Davidson said he isn’t sure if CHCCS has the right technology to support the teaching courses.
“I don’t think we’re going to get as much return on these courses until we invest into more robust IT systems that will pull the data out that we need,” he said. “So, we’ll spend money on these courses and they won’t be as effective.”
A major point in the plan is how inequality in disciplining students can affect how those students perform in school. CHCCS did a study last year and found that minority students were disciplined at a much higher rate.
Board Member Joal Hall Broun said discipline should be studied as often as students are graded, to ensure that no one falls in the cracks.
“That should be looked at every nine weeks,” she said. “So that if you need to change something and you see a difference, or a problem or someone doing it well, someone from McDougle, you can have them come over to Smith–I’m just using it as an example, don’t take that as a criticism of either school—it can be changed.”
Lanier said it’s important to understand that the plan can evolve just as students and classrooms do.
“We do realize that there is work that is being done in curriculum,” he said. “We also know that the way that instruction is going to occur is directly aligned with this curriculum, so we are working on those points, so we wanted to make sure that we’re giving ourselves enough time to make sure that we get it right.”
The equity plan passed with a unanimous vote.