PSBA 2021 Bulletin November/December PSBA 2021 Bulletin November/December - Page 17

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She says Centennial has worked to address the priorities of improvement identified in the 2019 Excellence Through Equity Program Quality Review , conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and increased access to Advanced Preparatory ( AP ) courses for students who might not have been able to participate in the past . Her theme of communicating and listening also carries into the milestones for the district , with every department and every building reporting back during the administrative summer leadership retreat on what they ’ d accomplished . “ Each department shared how they ’ ve been recruiting to diversify staff , how teams are stepping forward making data-driven decisions to increase access and opportunity , and how it ’ s not just one person ’ s responsibility to improve equity in the district ,” James-Coles says .
Getting a plan together
With years of experience comes years of knowledge about what works and what doesn ’ t , and Chatters , Brown and James-Coles provided some advice to help make the road to equity smoother for those starting that journey .
Chatters advises creating a group or joining a group of others beyond your district as a sort of brain trust to share ideas , ask questions and voice concerns .
She also recommends keeping eyes and ears open , because you never know when or where equity issues might be revealed . She gave the example of chocolate milk being served at lunch . Kids love the stuff , and even those who are lactose intolerant ( approximately 75 % of Black children ) may forget that issue in their eagerness to enjoy the drink , but that choice can negatively impact the rest of their day and disrupt their learning . The solution is to provide an alternative that ’ s similar to the treat , but without the digestive drawbacks .
Brown suggests districts pause and reflect on what ’ s causing their struggles instead of plunging in . She also provides a list of attributes equity is important to student achievement and opportunity , and how to practice equity within the school board director role will provide directors with the tools to supplement the learning and growth of all students in their district . At PSBA , we believe that equity workshops should be customizable to meet the needs and context of districts . Here are some of the options we offer members : Embracing Equity in Pennsylvania Schools : What is Equity ? provides a foundation for understanding equity in educational systems . Embracing Equity in Pennsylvania Schools : Why is Equity Important ? focuses on why equity is important for student advancement . Understanding and Dismantling Barriers to Equity explores the impact of culturally responsive leadership on student achievement and belonging . Leveraging the PSBA Equity Toolkit reviews the practice of equity in schools . Developing an Equity Policy identifies a process for developing an equity policy .
In our schools , we ask our students to do their best . It is important that as school leaders , we do our best and seek learning opportunities to develop a school environment that will allow all of our students to thrive . For more information on PSBA ’ s equity services and the workshops outlined , please contact me at heather . bennett @ psba . org .
stakeholders should have . “ You must be courageous . You can ’ t be afraid to hear folks ’ experiences . You need to wed the data with those shared experiences . Build spaces for feedback . Understand your first plan won ’ t be your last and your first plan can be small .”
James-Coles says slow and steady wins the race . And even with groups within a district , school leaders should still seek more support and guidance . “ Talk to other districts who have done the work , ask how they got to where they

are ,” she says . “ And communicate with everyone — take the time to unpack a person ’ s idea of what equity is , make sure your community understands what it is .”

And one last piece of advice from Brown , “ Always keep the work moving . Always .”
November / December 2021 PSBA Bulletin 15