Equity still isn ’ t necessarily a buzzword for the general public , but some proactive school districts have been building on equity work for years to identify a number of underserved groups and gain surprising insight into ways equity has been overlooked or needs to be improved .
Emerging roles and approaches
Dr . Seria Chatters , director of equity and inclusivity at the State College Area School District and adjunct associate professor of counselor education in the Department of Educational Psychology , Counseling , and Special Education at Penn State , has been in her director role since July 2018 . She didn ’ t have the luxury of building off a predecessor ’ s success — the role didn ’ t exist before she was named to it .
“ In 2016 , Superintendent Bob O ’ Donnell convened a group called the Inclusive Excellence Steering Committee , and that committee was tasked with talking about and looking into the issues around inequity that diverse groups were experiencing within the district ,” Chatters says . “ That came from various issues in the district prior to 2016 that may have had to do with race , LGBTQ issues — that different groups would bring to the board — and him trying to find a way for those issues to be strategically addressed .”
Chatters says the committee looked at the issues and put together the Inclusive Excellence Policy . Part of that policy indicated the need to hire someone to manage equity challenges and opportunities across the district , and that ’ s where she is today .
Dr . Lucretia Brown , deputy superintendent for equity , accountability and school improvement for the Allentown School District , has a similar backstory . She ’ s the first to hold the position and has just moved into year 2 .
And like Chatters , Brown ’ s position got its first big boost in 2016 . Back then , Brown says , “ the board prioritized equity as a districtwide initiative and strategy . That set forth an equity commitment statement and embedded equity throughout our five goal areas in our strategic framework .”
Sean Ruck is an editor , writer and public relations professional living in Vermont .