School Board Questionnaire
Student access to resources and opportunities within the schools is an important value in the Wyoming community. However, only 40% of African American respondents to the WCIA Diversity and Inclusion survey believed that was the case here. If you were to be elected to the Wyoming Board of Education, how would you improve equitable access for all students?
Once again, I think this begins with knowing where we are as a district. Listening to our students, their families, and our graduates with an openness to look at our own school climate and structures for access. We can still be a great school district and work to be better for all kids. I will continue to participate in and support the work of the Belonging and Inclusion Collaborative (BIC) to address these concerns. I will also continue to support the leadership of our current Superintendent and his sincere commitment to ensuring all kids thrive. Understanding how students are tracked and encouraged as they move up the academic ladder is important as is understanding why students may not receive resources, know about opportunities, or feel welcome to take advantage of them. I am confident that all students can benefit from fresh eyes on how we have always done things.
Bring the student voice to the forefront and engage students and families to more fully understand what resources and opportunities are most missed. In doing this analysis, there may be processes (documented or undocumented) of accessing things or knowing how to do things that are not fully understood or communicated. Make those things clear to families. Be very intentional about communication timing, methods and channels used to inform and engage students and families. Answer the “questions not asked” because they are not known to be asked. Continue to encourage and welcome students and families to be curious, ask questions and advocate for themselves.
First, I want to draw a distinction between the terms equality and equity. To me equality in education is focused on making sure that people are being treated the same, whereas equity is more focused on meeting individual student needs. These are both important values that must be considered at different times in the educational process. Equitable access for all students starts with the recognition that each student is unique. Strategicially meeting with groups, families and indivdiuals can help to surface these unique needs and then allow the district to address specific equity issues. Supt. Weber’s CommUNITY conversations provides a strong foundation for this type of approach, but one could imagine more targeted and strategic conversasations focused on surfacing the needs of families of color (an obvious need given the statistic shared in this question), families with students in special education, or any other demographic. These conversations could be supplemented with surveys and other data collection mechanisims to provide a more robust understanding of the challenges being faced by families related to access issues. As a board member it would be my job to support the administration in these sorts of efforts and provide accountability for the process.
As a current member of the Wyoming Board of Education, I can speak to what I know about where we are and where we continue to progress and evaluate in the realm of equitable access. The district actively engages the students to hear directly from them their own voice and their needs. This then leads to action steps based on feedback. This would be an example of why we now have an Equity Coordinator who can help in developing plans and look for gaps and service needs. Evaluating where the gaps are in equity and how those can be closed is something the district noticed was a need and moved forward with an action to improve. I support the work to continually look at and have tangible steps to improve access for all students.