The school system’s newly appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Equity held its organizational meeting Thursday night, with members hoping to set a new national standard for ensuring all segments of the school population have access to the opportunities the district offers.
The 25-member panel includes three School Board members, educators, parents and representatives of community groups ranging from the PTA to the NAACP.
During its first meeting, the panel broke into groups to talk about their concerns and goals for the committee’s work. The discussions were intended to help set the foundation of the program. Next week, they will be joined by a facilitator who has been hired to help guide their work.
School Board Vice Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) is leading the group.
“Why was this committee created? It was because it was demanded by the public,” she said, noting the overwhelming outpouring of concerns raised by parent and community leaders during recent School Board meetings.
During the sessions, members discussed the need to increase parental involvement, improve teacher training, recruit more minority educators—and to tackle many uncomfortable and challenging issues involving racism and biases.
Future meetings will be facilitated by Jamie Almanzan, of the Equity Collaborative in Oakland, CA. In a video introduction to the panel, Almanzan said he had taught at every level of public school and got into teaching to be an example for minority students. “I wanted to be the Mexican teacher I never had,” he said.
Another consultant group is conducting an equity audit throughout the school system, with plans for 24 on-site school visits and a series of focus groups and interviews, with the goal of providing the committee its findings by June.
The committee plans weekly meetings on Thursdays at the School Board Administration Building in Broadlands. The next meeting is April 11, starting at 5:30 p.m.