2018-2019 Racial Equity Initiatives
Racial equity policy. In September 2018, administration proposed creation of a racial equity policy to the Board of Education. The Board agreed, and a principal-led committee of administrators, faculty, staff, students, and community members is developing a policy to hold the district accountable for eliminating racially predictable disparities in achievement. The goal is to have a policy approved by the end of the school year.
CARE teams. As part of our six-year professional development plan to eliminate racial bias in classroom practices, last year about 40 teachers received intensive training as Collaborative Action Research for Equity (CARE) team leaders. This school year, all OPRF teachers have been assigned to small groups of faculty members with CARE team leaders. These groups will spend the next five years analyzing their curriculum, teaching methods, practices, processes, and classroom relationships through a racial lens. By focusing on classroom factors that affect students most directly, the goal is to eliminate racial bias in instruction. Administrators also are participating in their own CARE team.
Restorative justice training. Students of color are disproportionately represented in the discipline system. Using a restorative approach to discipline helps schools move away from strictly punitive consequences and focus on mediation, damage repair, and community-building in order to improve school culture and student outcomes. Working with consultants from Umoja, administrators, Board members, and security staff have received workshops in restorative practices. In addition, a group of about 25 faculty, staff, and administrators are participating in a year-long "community of practice" training to deepen their skills and practices.
Individual racial equity coaching. New this year, two OPRF faculty members with an extensive background in racial equity leadership will work one-on-one with teachers to help develop healthy racial consciousness, apply racial-equity concepts in their classroom relationships and teaching practices, and promote a culture of high expectations for all students.
Improved hiring practices. The demographics of our teaching staff, which is about 80 percent white, do not reflect the demographics of our students, who are 44 percent young people of color. The new director of human resources has created a "talent management" plan to recruit, hire, and retain a more diverse faculty, particularly teachers of color.
Racial equity curriculum. Led by student members of SAFE (Students Advocating for Equity), the district is developing a pilot curriculum that, in the students' words, "fosters open discussion on uncomfortable topics and goes deeper than just the slavery/oppression topics in class."
Revised student dress code. Responding to student input that the dress code and its enforcement treated students differently by gender and race, the principal worked with a team of students to revamp the code for the 2018-2019 school year. The new dress code avoids any reference to gender-specific clothing and states that the code will be enforced “consistently and in a manner that does not reinforce or increase marginalization or oppression of any group.” All faculty and staff are being trained to use student- and body-positive language to explain the code and address violations.
Student Advisory Committee. Diverse across all student demographics, including race, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc., this new committee will play an essential role in advising the superintendent on equity-related issues.
District equity transformation plan. The District Equity Leadership Team (DELT), composed of administrators and faculty members, is working on a Racial Equity Transformation Plan that dovetails with the strategic plan, with key initiatives, performance targets, timelines, and metrics to determine progress.
Imagine OPRF Facilities Project 1. In December 2018, the Board approved the most comprehensive facilities project in 50 years. During focus groups in the conceptual design phase, a key finding was that students, and particularly students of color, need a space where they feel welcome, safe, and free to gather, study, and collaborate. As a result, a key part of Project 1 will be the first phase of creating a student commons.