|Student Demographics in District 15|
NEXT STEPS AND WHAT TO WATCH
- Beef up translation services for ELLs and parents. This is included in the plan but I’m mentioning it here to underscore the point: If we want to involve more parents in their children’s education, we need to do more to assure school materials and PTA are accessible. And with a student population that is 42 percent Latinx, we need more Spanish-speaking staff members in classrooms and offices.
- Address existing tracking in D15 middle schools. As mentioned above, we know that tracking is socioeconomically biased and results in segregation within schools. The new District 15 Diversity, Equity and Integration Coordinator needs to work directly with school leaders and community members to develop plans to differentiate learning without sorting children. Anti-bias training alone cannot solve this problem. Smaller classes would help of course to differentiate learning, and are even more important in diverse classrooms.
- End G&T elementary programs in D15. The removal of screens in the district's middle schools should make jettisoning screens at even younger ages a no-brainer, particularly given the stark racial divisions in two out of the three of our G&T schools. A few years ago, these programs were relatively diverse but, with gentrification, the gifted programs have become almost entirely white and Asian, especially in the earlier grades, while general ed classes are almost entirely black and Latinx.
- Promote anti-racist, inclusive practices throughout school communities. Last year, Superintendent Anita Skop started requiring all schools to establish diversity committees under the aegis of SLTs. This freed diversity groups from seeking approval by PTA leaders, which haven't always been responsive to the needs of parents of color, non-English-speaking, or low-income families. District 15 needs some mechanism for connecting these diversity groups, facilitating their development, and encouraging them to share best practices. We don't want this integration effort to result in white parents blaming problems that may arise in schools on "diversity," nor do we want them coming into Title I schools and taking over PTAs.