This past Thursday (06/05/2014) the Salt Lake City School District held its second Equity Leadership Team Meeting for 2014.
The Equity Leadership Team had its inception in the district, in 2008. The September 1, 2009, School Board meeting the minutes sate the following:
“Kathleen Christy and Curtis Linton, School Improvement Network, told board members tonight’s report would provide a brief history of the Equity Leadership Team. Mr. Linton said the group was formed last year to look for ways to understand and close the racial achievement gap.
Mr. Linton reported equity in the schools means providing educational opportunities and skills for all students so students can do what they want to do without barriers. He also suggested the district look at the various cultures to make sure all students are represented and included…”
It appears that the Equity Leadership Team fell out of favor with the district and they stopped meeting after 2011.
At our June 3, 2014, School Board meeting, the board president denied knowing anything about this committee’s existence, purpose or function, she also stated that the school board was not aware of the first meeting that was held on May 22, 2014.
Here is the video on that discussion: School Board Discussion: Utah Consolidated Achievement Plan (video)
FIRST EQUITY LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING (05/22-/14) for 2014
In the January 21, 2014 School Bard meeting, I requested that the district reconvene this group. This request was again made to the district following a community meeting with Rosa Salamanca of the U.S. Department of Justice, last month.
In mid-May of this year an email went out which included members of the school board. I was the only school board member to attend that meeting.
All members of the groups were asked to commit to the Four Agreements of Courageous Conversation:
• Stay engaged
• Experience discomfort
• Speak your truth
• Expect and accept non-closure
Here is my summary of that meeting:
SECOND EQUITY LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING (06/05-/14) for 2014
This meeting was held at Horizonte Alternative High School. The meeting started off oddly enough, with Superintendent McKell Withers stating that he rejected the idea of the district adding an Associate Superintendent of Educational Equity and Diversity within the organization of the district. He went on to recount all of the “good things” the district is doing for students of color.
He stated that those in the community that were calling for an Associate Superintendent of Educational Equity and Diversity were “uninformed” and were damaging their “own creditability”. He made other critical comments about the idea, but I didn’t hear any support for what he was saying from those in attendance. He answered a couple of questions and then prematurely left the meeting. So he “spoke his truth” but didn’t “stay engaged” and avoided “experiencing discomfort”.
The balance of the meeting revolved around the need to weave equity into all aspects of the district. Several times in the meeting, I pointed out that the deficiencies being discussed are easily solved with the shepherding of an Associate Superintendent of Educational Equity and Diversity.
I for one remain convinced that our district will not see substantive change until changes are made to the organizational structure of the school district. The status quo is simply not working, no matter how much the school superintendent yells from the roof top that all is well.