The Everett School Committee Monday night unanimously passed two separate measures that firmly support and advance the framework outlined in the district’s sweeping new initiative, Elevating Equity for Everett.
First, the Committee approved an Anti-Racism Resolution that articulates the values and objectives the district will sustain and aspire to as it implements policies and practices relating to equity for students, staff, and the EPS community as a whole. “Words make up the resolution, but I can assure you that it will be backed by action,” Chairman Thomas Abruzzese said after Monday’s meeting.
The Anti-Racism Resolution reads as follows:
Whereas, as schools have the responsibility to equip students with their civil right of obtaining a free and appropriate public education, it is the responsibility of each school to ensure we create a welcoming community for All students; and;
Whereas, it is the responsibility that the Everett Public Schools provide to all district staff, including School Committee members annual professional development on diversity, equity and inclusion; and
Whereas, the Everett Public Schools will commit to recruiting and retaining a diverse and culturally responsive teaching workforce; and
Whereas, the Everett Public Schools will examine their policies for institutional and systemic racialized practices and implement change with sustainable policies that are evidence based; and
Whereas, the Everett Public Schools will incorporate into their curriculum the history of racial oppression and works by black authors and works from diverse perspectives; and
Whereas, the Everett Public Schools district leaders can no longer remain silent to the issues of racism and hate that continue to plague our public and private institutions;
Resolved: that Everett Public Schools and all the school districts in the Commonwealth must guarantee that racist practices are eradicated, and diversity, equity and inclusion is embedded and practiced for our students, families, faculty and staff.
We must ensure our own school culture and that of every district in the Commonwealth is anti-racist, acknowledging that all lives cannot matter until black lives matter.
Second, the members of the newly formed Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Subcommittee were unanimously approved and announced. Marcony Almeida Barros will chair the subcommittee, while Dana Murray and Samantha Lambert will serve as its members.
“We need a forum where these topics are discussed proactively, positively, safely, and compassionately,” said Barros, who sponsored the creation of the subcommittee. “It will be my honor to create precisely this kind of environment as we undertake this vital work.”
“The urgent need for this subcommittee is obvious,” added Murray. “Our country is undergoing profound shifts, and the EPS needs to play its role in making substantive changes at the local level. This subcommittee is an important opening step.”
Lambert, who had the honor of reading the entire Anti-Racism Resolution to the community during Monday’s meeting, is committed to continuing advocacy for a restorative justice culture and working to address the intersectional challenges of race, ability, ethnicity, and LGBTQ students.
Two weeks ago, Superintendent Priya Tahiliani unveiled the foundations of Elevating Equity for Everett, the district’s formal plan for diversity and inclusion. “Enduring change takes time to envision and enact,” the Superintendent said prior to Monday’s meeting. “Our plan offers specific goals and benchmarks, but it’s flexible and adaptable. We know where we want to go, but our staff, students, and stakeholders will have the chance to play essential roles in determining how we get there.”
Elevating Equity for Everett features three phases:
•”Awareness: Understanding One’s Lens and Bias,” which entails: a self-assessment of culture and biases; courageous conversations starting at central office; and raising awareness by providing resources to teachers, sending Articles of the Week, sharing resources and providing webinars.
•”Cultural Learning/ Relationship Building,” which focuses on the following: examining cultures to build relationships with students and families that refrains from making assumptions about class, race, ethnicity, ability, age, home life, language etc.; building strong relationships with students and families that acknowledges differing degrees of comfort; and using rapport and alliance building techniques to create the trust needed for deep learning in the classroom.
•”Culturally and Linguistically Sustaining Practices,” which empowers students by setting high academic expectations for all students; prepares students for standardized assessments that provides opportunities to learn through authentic assessments; and challenges traditional curricula that excludes the contributions and perspectives of traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.