Today, we are sharing another installment of our 203 in 2:03 addressing concerns we have heard regarding our Countywide Equity Institute training from our community.
Naperville 203 has publicly committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment for our students and staff. We have done this with the hiring of an Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Drafting of a Comprehensive Equity Plan and the corresponding work, and ultimately through a Board of Education Resolution Reaffirming District 203 Commitment to Equity for All Students, Overcoming Systemic Racism and Ending Racial Injustice. Despite Naperville 203’s overall high academic achievement patterns, we are aware of persistent racial, ethnic, and economic-related disparities and inequities in our students’ learning and comprehensive school experiences.
The Countywide Equity Institute that Naperville 203 hosted on February 26 supported our Comprehensive Equity Plan which identifies strategies to uncover, understand, and eliminate systemic inequities including but not limited to opportunity gaps, disproportionate suspension rates, overidentification of special education services, disproportionate enrollment in advanced classes, and connectedness to school. In addition to the presenters, this training included student panels with self-described social identifiers including Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, LGBTQ+, Asian-American, Students with Disabilities, and Muslim to lend their voice and experiences to our discussions.
Let me be perfectly clear with our community today. We are committed to this work and we will not tolerate hateful comments and threats. While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, threats to the safety of our staff or presenters will never be tolerated. This is unacceptable.
Naperville 203 is supporting teachers and other staff in building their capacity to create inclusive learning environments where all students are represented, have equitable access, can meaningfully participate in all aspects of teaching and learning. This work is centered on creating inclusive classrooms and school cultures as well as meet the needs and understand the lived experiences of students experiencing poverty, students of color, students who are differently-abled, LGBTQ+ students, and other student groups. Let me be blunt - we are a student-focused District and the work we are doing is keeping ALL students at the forefront.
The next phase of this learning is to increase discourse among staff to understand diverse perspectives and determine the next steps in our learning plan based on the needs of all stakeholders.
Equity work can be uncomfortable and we expect that. It is how we respond to it that matters. Even when uncomfortable, it is through open dialogue that healing and change will begin.