LSR7 Equity Update (Our Schools Magazine February 2021)
The Board of Education made equity its No. 1 priority for the 2020-21 school year. The district has a six-part Equity Plan. What does LSR7’s commitment to equity entail?
WHAT DOES LSR7 MEAN WHEN IT REFERS TO “EQUITY?”
At its core, educational equity is any and all actions we take to ensure that all of our students have what they need to succeed within our school district and after they graduate, while honoring a deep sense of belonging for them while they attend our schools. This work is infused in all aspects of the district because it is essentially the practice of asking ourselves: What barriers might be in the way of each of our student’s success? How can we remove those barriers? How do we ensure students have the unique resources they need to thrive academically and feel a deep sense of dignity and belonging when they are at school?
In that sense, equity is everything we do to provide a personalized education that cultivates a student’s individual talents, prevent social or cultural factors from impeding a student’s ability to be successful, and ensure that every student feels included, valued and celebrated within LSR7.
WHAT GOALS DRIVE LSR7’S EQUITY WORK?
Meeting all of our students’ unique needs is the equity mission or “lens” we aim to apply to all district decisions.
Our Equity work is fueled by six fundamental focus areas found in our Equity Plan approved by the Board in February 2019 (visit lsr7.org/equity for more information).
• Governance and leadership: Ensuring equitable practices are reflected in our policies and leadership decisions.
• Professional learning and development: Equipping our staff, students and community with knowledge and resources to make the learning experience more equitable.
• Curriculum and instruction: Teaching a diverse curriculum that incorporates and reflects a broad and diverse range of experiences.
• Student-centered support and programming: Building support systems that promote student success and engagement.
• Parent and community engagement: Involving our community and parents in our equity initiatives.
• Recruitment, hiring, development and retention: Hiring and retaining a diverse workforce that has both cultural awareness and equity literacy.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF EQUITY-RELATED WORK IN LSR7?
Often our community correlates LSR7 Equity work specifically with external and internal training we’ve provided to staff, community members and students in 2019 and 2020. This valuable training covers topics such as bias, cultural responsiveness and belonging since diversity, equity and inclusion efforts should be inclusive of any/all typically marginalized groups.
Race is a significant topic in equity work, as systemic racism has been one of the longest, most significant and historically prevalent sources of inequity in our nation. However, our Equity work is part of broad and comprehensive efforts to remove barriers for all students. Other examples of equity-related initiatives in the past year include expanding translation resources for families, distributing hotspots to families in need of internet access during virtual learning, adding protections for people who are gay or transgender in our district’s non-discrimination code, and continued expansion of the district’s Multi Tiered System of Support (MTSS).
2020-21 EQUITY UPDATES
• The Board of Education approved additional funds to expand Educational Equity Consultants work during its second year.
• A team of teachers and administrators formed to begin developing a framework of professional learning targets for staff in the area of equity with feedback from the Parent/Community Equity Team, which also reconvened in the fall.
• LSR7 students completed a Panorama climate, equity and inclusion survey. This student data reflects how inclusive, collaborative and welcoming students feel their school environment is.
• The district has adopted Collaborative Classroom, an elementary English language arts resource in which 41% of story characters are characters of color.
• All staff members engaged in equity-focused professional development in November.
• LSR7 joined many area school districts in participating in an equity-focused collaboration cohort guided by Beloved Community and hosted by the Kauffman Foundation.
• Per a national directive from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the district named Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Student Services Dr. Christy Barger as the district’s new Title IX Coordinator. The district’s nondiscrimination policy and forms can be found at lsr7.org/anti-discrimination.
• The Board of Education approved the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the district’s non-discrimination policy in the summer of 2020. The Board heard a first reading of this proposal in March 2020.
• District leaders are conducting a systematic review of Board of Education equity policies and equity-based decision-making protocols from various districts, with the intention of determining best next policy steps for LSR7.
• District and community leaders have formed a Recruitment and Retention Task Force to continue to recruit and retain excellent educators who reflect the entire student population.
• The district will conduct a review of LSR7 discipline –including a data analysis of student subgroups most impacted. This data will provide baseline information to inform future policy reviews.
• New staff and student cohorts are scheduled to convene in the spring of 2021 for EEC training. Originally scheduled for the fall, these sessions were postponed to the spring in order to achieve the best chance of having them in person. Parent permission is always required for student participation in EEC training.
• The district’s Real World Learning (RWL) initiative through the Kauffman grant will continue its work to expand access to opportunities such as internships, certifications and client-connected projects for all students.
INTERESTED IN MORE INFORMATION?
Please visit lsr7.org/equity for more updates, progress reports, timelines and media related to the district’s Equity Plan, in addition to district data. This website will be updated throughout the spring.