One of our county’s greatest assets is its diversity. Yet based on tensions across the nation and in our own county, we face challenges of bias.
My idea of a Diversity Coordinator stemmed from the unrest across the nation over the past year including Baltimore City as well as the frustration of lack of academic progress with some of our student groups. I proposed this position during the Board’s budget work sessions and I gathered consensus for its approval. This position would provide oversight to a diverse curriculum, hiring of a diverse staff, professional development and diversity training for teachers and staff, and an annual anti-discrimination report to the board. Even though the position wasn’t funded, I will propose it again next year. In the meantime, the committee on diversity and inclusion has given the Board and school system recommendations for implementation of curriculum, training, and ideas that impact children now.
We can certainly improve on our cultural proficiency training but we must also develop unconscious bias training for our teachers and staff. A recent research study at Yale University had preschool teachers watch a video of normal behavior students and asked them to point out the students with behavioral problems and the majority chose African American boys. We need to start suspension prevention early between 3years to 3rd grade and have supports in place. We need unconscious bias training for staff and fair policies to address discipline. We want students engaged, in school, and ready to learn.
HCPSS needs to be a world class education system where are children are Career and College Ready when the graduate and be outstanding citizens of county and nation. We need to develop a curriculum that aligns with that vision and that includes world languages and technology. Education also starts at home, so we need to bridge the gaps between the home, the school, and the community to optimize our children’s education.