Where to Start with Creating an Effective School District Equity and Inclusion Plan
District improvement plans all across the country include equity, diversity and/or inclusion in their strategic plan. But the details of those plans, and their effectiveness, vary dramatically depending on what the district does to implement change. So if you are looking at creating an effective plan, what are the key elements and where do you start? This blog will share the top 5 tips for getting started.
1. Find equity champions on your campus. These may be teachers, administrators and parents – and should be a combination thereof – who have either brought issues to your attention or have indicated interest in this subject matter. It can be helpful to host an open forum to discuss the topics of equity and inclusion and share that this is an issue the school or district is working on. People who attend such a forum may be some of your equity champions.
2. Review the data and identify your current policies that may be leading to disparate outcomes. This should include looking at data on participation in electives, advanced courses, extra curricular programs as well as use of disciplinary and/or corrective actions. Look at these statistics based on race, gender, and socio-economic status to ensure you have proportionate representation.
3. Create a committee that includes equity champions and potential skeptics. You can source the equity champions from the conversation you had as part of step 1. The skeptics may be a bit more difficult but you can send out notices that you are forming such a committee, you can go back to any forms where potential volunteers may have registered interest, you can work with your PTA or PTO leaders to identify any parents who may want to be involved, you can bring it up at staff meetings. You may also have to form the committee without the skeptics and then see who may emerge once the committee is formed to be able to solicit all points of view. The important part is that the committee represents differing points of view of your school population.
4. Build awareness about the disparities – first within the committee and then in your broader school community. This includes (1) asking for each person to share their perspective on equity and inclusion; (2) sharing the data you have gathered as part of step 2; and (3) some ideas for how to address what you found in step 2. As part of this awareness, it can be helpful to look at what your district has done in the past, and what other districts are doing. You can find information on the latter by reaching out to the national PTA network, being part of groups online, or discussing this with any third party that you may have helping you with this process.
5. Create goals. Those goals will look different depending on what you have on your campus, but write down at least three SMART goals and move towards them. For example, you may create a goal around having equitable representation of minorities and socio-economically disadvantaged children in your advanced course. There are many ways to do this including by sharing more information about those courses, expanding the number of those courses, changing the enrollment methodology of those courses, etc. Which of those execution paths is right for your community is up to your committee to figure out. The most important thing is to put that stake in the ground and start taking tangible steps towards that.
Really this work is about our children as being seen as more than a test score. This is about learning about our students' aspirations, interests, understanding more about their mindset and being inclusive in our school communities. For more details on this topic you can listen to this podcast episode or reach out to one of the amazing organizations that assists schools with this work. If you have some ideas that have worked for your district, we would appreciate hearing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.