School Diversity Report, Proposed Budget, and Voting Rights

Hi Friends!
Spring may actually be here! This update includes some opportunities to speak up at the School Board coming up related to the Diversity Report and the proposed budget. I have a couple of questions for parents. And, of course, more resources to encourage you to keep working on learning about our country’s white supremacist, systemically racist system and our roles in it.
School District Updates:
(1) The Diversity Report was posted in relation to this Thursday’s School Board meeting. Please read through it to see what was recommended in order for the school district to improve its handling of diversity and inclusion. If you want to speak about this at the School Board meeting, it’s agenda item E-1. I’m feeling disappointed in the recommendations — I’d love to hear your feedback. I’m also concerned about the list of people who were interviewed for the study (which included me) because it doesn’t seem like a list representative of our community.
(2) The Superintendent’s Proposed Budget has been discussed some last week . An outline of the cuts is on pages 57–60, organized into three tiers. I’ve been hearing that it’s very likely Tier I and Tier II are both likely to happen. I did a word search for “equity” and another for “PTA” and found some troubling indications.
—The equity search revealed Tier II cuts of Equity and Excellence staff at the high schools and the position in the Department of Teaching and Learning. No additional Equity staff are being added to offset this cut. (pages 66–67, 88, 112)
— The PTA search revealed that APS considers it adequate to rely on PTAs to pick up the costs of cutting discretionary field trips (including the elementary swim program, planetarium, etc.) and transportation to sports practices and games. (pages 93, 118, 122)
—There will be opportunities for the public to speak about the proposed budget.
— A group member put together some budget analysis documents, looking at the ways in which special needs, economically disadvantaged, and ESOL/HILT students are particularly affected by the proposed cuts. Overall, the analysis shows that schools with low SOL scores are losing resources.
Some quick items for parents:
(1) If any of you are currently choosing a school for your rising Kindergartner and you have questions about how it all works, I’m happy to chat with you. It can be difficult to navigate the varied opinions you’re hearing, particularly if you’re hoping to make a choice in line with your family’s values around equity.
(2) I’m planning to put together a large group event around talking to kids about race. If you’re interested, will you let me know if you have specific questions or topics you would like to see covered? I’ll keep the group posted once that’s scheduled.
(1) Regarding voting rights and judicial nominees. If you want to read the US Commission on Civil Rights Report, you can find it here. From the Executive Summary: “While voter turnout is an imperfect indicator of voter discrimination, data indicate that minority voter turnout still lags behind white voter turnout. Moreover, voter turnout among non-black minority groups lags significantly behind white voter turnout. Similarly, minority voter registration lags behind white voter registration, especially among non-black minority groups. Compared to white voters, data show that minority citizens are more likely to say that their reason for not registering to vote is due to registration requirements or difficulties, as opposed to disinterest in the political process.” If you’re interested in helping the NAACP register voters and improve turnout, you can volunteer here.
(2) From a group member — Moving from Ally to Accomplice
(3) SURJ NoVa is holding a reading group on Feminist Accountability on March 22.
(4) I have linked to the Annie E Casey Foundation before, but a group member shared their Race, Equity and Inclusion Action Guide.
Keep working!
Listen. Amplify. Follow.

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