As we start a new school year, the COVID-19 crisis is certainly front and center as we navigate safely opening our schools and do everything we can to maintain the academic continuity that our students need. But just as important this school year are the critical conversations we need to have and resulting action steps we need to take regarding global and cultural perspectives, equity and inclusion throughout our school district.
As I communicated last spring, there is a sense of urgency that we all must share in ending the mistreatment of our fellow citizens. It is crucial that we have conversations with our children about racism, social injustice and privilege. It is important for us as parents to open this dialogue at home, and it is just as important for us as educators to explore ways to discuss these matters in our classrooms.
Since that time, many of you have reached out with feedback and suggestions; additionally, we have heard from some of our alumni and met with a group of Mariemont graduates to hear more.
In the Mariemont City School District, we have made our stance very clear that we support and encourage all of our students, staff and their families regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other individual characterization. We will not tolerate any acts of hate or exclusion. And our commitment to this work is now steadfast as ever.
At its recent work session, the Mariemont City School District Board of Education had a lengthy discussion about the importance of this work and how it will be shaped during the 2020-2021 school year. Board members had meaningful dialogue about all facets of this work including the appropriateness of current Native American imagery used as the school district brand and logo. The Board of Education is interested in hearing your feedback on this topic. If you would like to share your thoughts about the district’s brand/logo with Board members, you are encouraged to do so through the feedback page that has been established here
In addition to dialogue about the use of Native American Imagery, Mariemont Elementary principal and school district Director of Equity and Inclusion Ericka Simmons shared with the Board of Education key action steps centered around this work from the district Action Plan that will be employed this year:
- Continue providing ongoing professional development opportunities for staff and the administrative team on culturally responsive practices and anti-bias/anti-racist mindsets.
- Develop a global/cultural staff toolkit to assist with the consistency of global/cultural teaching, resource selection and curriculum development.
- Engage the community through book studies and develop online learning opportunities that build awareness of globally and culturally responsive practices.
- Create a Student Voices Council Grades 5-12 to engage students in discussions about leadership, cultural awareness, equity, advocacy and teamwork using the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice (Diversity, Justice and Action) Anchor Standards as a tool and framework.
- Conduct a district Equity Audit to gather data through focus groups, surveys, observations, and building walkthroughs to determine where the strengths and area(s) of opportunity are as it relates to equity in 7 different domains: (1) Climate; (2) Environment and Resources; (3) Leadership and Governance; (4) Continuous Improvement and Inquiry; (5) Instruction and Assessment; (6) Student Engagement and Outcomes; (7) Family and Community Partnerships.
The work in front of us is big. The work in front of us is important. And together, we will make progress to make the Mariemont Experience the best possible for every member of our school community.