SCHENECTADY – After two years of work, the Schenectady Town School District School Board formally adopted a new inclusion policy last week that aims to remove barriers preventing students from receiving an equitable education.
The policy on diversity, equity and inclusion in education recognizes that certain groups of students have been “historically marginalized because of inequalities associated with aspects of their identity and intersectionality”, which has adversely affected to the community as a whole. The policy sets out a series of measures that will be implemented to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that “will allow all students to thrive and build a better society”.
The policy is the latest step for the district which has slowly made strides in improving learning outcomes for all students, and comes months after the State Board of Regents, which oversees educational policies at New York, has adopted a policy recommending that all school districts develop and implement a diversity, equity and inclusion policy.
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In recent years, the district has adopted restorative practices to reduce suspensions, which has helped reduce the racial disparity between the number of black students facing suspension compared to their white peers. The district has also made an effort to hire more teachers of color to better reflect the student population of nearly 10,000 students.
Work has also been done to improve academic performance, although test scores remain below the state average for many residents of the district.
Under the policy, the Superintendent will appoint a district-wide anti-racism task force made up of parents, students, school staff and administration to be responsible for developing and revising policies that will help provide spaces without discrimination where students can flourish.
The Superintendent, or “a representative (s)”, will ensure that all learning materials reflect diversity and “include a range of perspectives and experiences”, especially from underserved and under-served communities. represented.
“All program documents should be reviewed for any bias,” the policy reads. “Classroom teaching activities and extracurricular programs must be designed to provide opportunities for cross-curricular and cross-cultural interactions that promote respect for diversity. “
Additionally, the superintendent will develop metrics to monitor learning outcomes that will be used to identify student outcomes. This includes, but is not limited to, reports on detentions, expulsions, suspensions, expulsions, as well as the number of students in remedial and advanced placement courses, among others.
Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., who assumed his current role long after work began to create the policy, said the policy was aligned with the district’s strategic plan and core values. He noted that the policy will change over time.
“As a school community, we are stronger and will perform better if we accept our differences and celebrate inclusiveness,” Soler said in a statement. “This policy is our district’s commitment to our community.
Schenectady joins a growing number of school districts across the state that are adopting policies of diversity, equity and inclusion.
In May, the Board of Regents adopted a policy encouraging all school districts across the state to develop such policies to improve learning outcomes for all students. The policy has been championed by the State School Boards Association and the New York State United Teachers Union.
“The Regents firmly believe that there is a moral and economic imperative to eliminate the inequalities that hinder the success of entire segments of New York’s student body,” the policy said. “Accordingly, the Council expects all school districts and institutions of higher learning to develop and implement policies and practices that advance diversity, equity and inclusion – and that they implement these policies and practices with fidelity and urgency. “
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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