Schenectady

Schenectady schools adopt new diversity, equity and inclusion policy

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SCHENECTADY — Following two years of work, the Schenectady City School District’s Board of Education formally adopted a new inclusion policy this past week that seeks to eliminate barriers preventing students from receiving an equitable education.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity in Education Policy acknowledges some groups of students have been “historically marginalized due to inequities associated with aspects of their identities and their intersectionality,” which has harmed the community as a whole. The policy lays out a series of measures that will be implemented to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn in an environment that will “enable all students to thrive and to build a better society.”

The policy is the latest step for the district that has been slowly making strides in improving learning outcomes for all students, and comes months after the state’s Board of Regents, which oversees educational policies in New York, adopted a policy recommending all school districts develop and implement a diversity, equity and inclusion policy.

Actions taken

In recent years, the district has adopted restorative practices to curtail suspensions, which has helped narrow the racial disparity between the number of Black students facing suspension compared to their white peers. The district has also worked to hire more teachers of color to better reflect the student population of nearly 10,000.

Work has also been done to improve academic outcomes, though test scores remain below state average for many in the district.

Under the policy, the superintendent will appoint a districtwide anti-racism task force made up of parents, students, school staff and administration that will be charged with developing and revising policies that will help harbor discrimination-free spaces where students can thrive.

The superintendent, or “a designee(s),” will ensure all learning materials reflect diversity and “include a range of perspectives and experiences,” particularly from underserved and underrepresented communities.

“All curriculum materials shall be examined for bias,” the policy reads. “Class instructional activities and extracurricular programs shall be designed to provide opportunities for cross-curricular, cross-cultural interactions that foster respect for diversity.”

In addition, the superintendent will develop metrics to monitor the learning outcomes that will be used to identify student outcomes. That includes, but is not limited to, reports on detentions, referrals, suspensions, expulsions, as well as the number of students in remedial and advanced placement courses, among other things.

Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr., who assumed his current role long after work to create the policy began, said the policy is in line with the district’s strategic plan and core values. He noted the policy will evolve over time.

“As a school community, we are stronger and will have better outcomes when we embrace our differences and celebrate inclusivity,” Soler said in a statement. “This policy is our district’s commitment to our community.”

Statewide effort

Schenectady joins a growing number of school districts throughout the state adopting diversity, equity and inclusion policies.

In May, the Board of Regents adopted a policy encouraging all school districts in the state to develop such policies in order to improve learning outcomes for all students. The policy was championed by the state’s School Boards Association and the New York State United Teachers union.

“The Regents believe strongly that there is a moral and an economic imperative to remove the inequities that stand in the way of success for whole segments of New York’s student population,” the policy reads. “Accordingly, the Board expects that all school districts and institutions of higher education will develop and implement policies and practices that advance diversity, equity and inclusion — and that they will implement such policies and practices with fidelity and urgency.”

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

One Comment

William Marincic

So your goal of holding students less accountable is going to make them more educated? What’s next paying kids just to come to school?

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