The Charlottesville School Board signed off on an equity policy that will ensure regular reporting on various accountability metrics.
The final version of the equity policy, adopted during Thursday’s meeting, was largely unchanged from a draft presented at an October meeting. The policy outlines steps for the division to take in order to ensure that all children receive what they need to develop their full academic potential.“These words on this paper aren’t nearly as important as what we do,” board member Ned Michie said. Board members tweaked the language a bit during the meeting and decided to pass the policy, pending a legal review.
Under the policy, schools Superintendent Rosa Atkins will have to develop a system-wide equity plan with accountability measures for the division and each school and report back to the board on how the plan is going. Additionally, the School Board and division officials will identity equity focus areas such as literacy and school discipline.
The policy also calls for the board and division to see that measures are taken to accomplish seven goals including promoting a culture of high expectations for all students, identifying and working to eliminate inequities in access to opportunities and to eliminate opportunity gaps; and recruiting, supporting and retaining a diverse workforce.
Thursday’s vote comes nearly a year after Atkins first brought the idea of a policy to the board.
Along with the equity policy, the division passed an anti-racism policy that was presented at the October meeting. That policy denounces racism, which is defined as “any program or practice that discriminates, segregates, persecutes or mistreats individuals based on their color or membership in a particular race or ethnic group.”
The equity and anti-racism policies are aimed at dismantling “individual, institutional and structural racism that may exist in the division and to prevent racism in the future.”
Albemarle County Public Schools adopted an anti-racism policy in March and that division’s implementation is underway.
Charlottesville teachers are currently working to teach a fuller view of history, an effort that involves ensuring all students can see themselves in the context of history and centering the experiences of oppressed people throughout history, according to a presentation at Thursday’s meeting. The “Changing the Narrative” project includes social studies teachers from across grade levels and a partnership with the Jefferson School African-American Heritage Center.
Neeley Minton, coordinator of social studies and world languages for Charlottesville City Schools, said at Thursday’s meeting that “Changing the Narrative” will increase the rigor of classes and the relevance of the information for students.
Related to that is a recent pledge from Atkins to reserve a day for teachers to focus on the integration of Charlottesville City Schools. She made the announcement last month during a ceremony that honored the students and parents who integrated Johnson Elementary School in 1962.
Minton said social studies teachers throughout the division will teach students about local integration Nov. 21 for the first Trailblazers Day. She added that the lessons also will stress that work toward equity continues.
The division will send out more information about what students will learn on that day, Minto said. The plan is to have a Trailblazer Day annually.