Friday, January 19, 2018

Message from Dr. Baldwin

Greetings. I hope everyone is staying warm and dry as we wait for our snow and ice to melt. I used some of my down time this week to carefully examine a report recently released by the Youth Justice Project. The report is titled the Racial Equity Report Card and can be found here. I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you about this report and our efforts.
Now, while this report card is well-organized and concisely presented, the information it contains is not news to us. In fact, our school district has suffered from issues of racial disproportionality since the day we integrated schools in the 1960's.
When I arrived in this district, I heard it said many times that we are a great school district - for most of our kids. I very quickly saw the unfortunate truth in that statement. There is indeed a sizable portion of our kids who are not enjoying the same kind of successful school experience...and that is not okay.
To that end, our Board of Education has approved a detailed equity plan that breaks down the issue into three digestable - but crucial - components: culture, curriculum and instruction. For the sake of our students of color, we must address each of these components head on, with no compromises. Strategies within these components include equity training for staff, restorative practices, a strategic focus on leadership development for school and district level leaders, emphasis on mentoring, and intentional efforts to improve scheduling that includes student services support. Please look through the full plan when you get time.
It is worth noting that the news is not all bad. The discipline data represented in the report card is from 2015-2016. Because of deliberate efforts to address those concerns, we recently presented an update to the Board of Education showing progress in the area of equity in student discipline (scroll to page 4 for specific numbers concerning the reduction of ODR's - Office Discipline Referrals). While we celebrate those efforts, we recognize this is just a beginning.
Please know that CHCCS is committed to addressing the racial disparities highlighted in this report. As a school district and community, we need to be comfortable talking about race, and courageous enough to take any action needed. Addressing the needs of all students should always be our top educational priority. 
Thank you for traveling this road with us. Together we will get it right...for EVERY child.
Pam Baldwin