School Board Questionnaire
What would be your definition of Inclusive Education and what are your views on inclusive education and examining the intersection of race and school policies to determine the impact on student performance?
I think an inclusive education is one that recognizes and values the diversity of its student population and the different experiences that each child brings to the classroom. An inclusive education cares about all kids thriving and about meeting each child where they are and growing them from there. An inclusive education is attuned to history and valued traditions, but willing to acknowledge where improvements can be made. An inclusive education cares about the diversity of voices in its curriculum and trusting teachers to teach the full scope of history in alignment with state learning standards. An inclusive education includes teachers who are diverse in background but are similar in excellence. When thinking about student performance, the increasing use of the tools of data can help to fairly look at any systemic inequities but also to assess in real-time the progress of each student in particular subjects. It is important not to let any child, regardless of their race, gender, abilities, etc. slip through the cracks or be invisible to the school system. Finally, I think our policies should reflect all of the above and continue to be reviewed regularly to ensure that they do.
Inclusive education expose all students to a variety of topics, subject matters and experiences that create well rounded students who are able critically process and think about what they learn and prepared for the next level of their educational or life journeys. Ensuring students have learned and mastered the core curriculum set forth by state standards and mandates supplemented with additional courses, learning and enrichment opportunities is something that has made Wyoming a standout district over the years.
When students of a particular group, cohort, etc. (e.g. race, ethnicity, class, gender, etc.) are routinely underachieving achieving, research, analysis and focus should be put forth to identify the root causes and plans put in place in partnership with all stakeholders to counteract the lower trend in student performance. The intent should be to provide all students with the opportunity to achieve and experience school at the highest level they are capable of doing so.
With an inclusive education all students feel valued, seen and heard at school. It is an approach that is based on educators working to build strong connections and relationships with all students by taking the time to get know them and how they learn best. This is the approach that I strongly advocate to my preserice teaching students at Miami University. Certainly I would also support efforts by the district to analyze the intersections of race and school polices. Nationally research indicates that these intersections have a definite impact on student performance. For example, school dress codes can often unfairly target students of color and result in reduced self-esteem. We also know that there are often racial disparities in school-based disciplinary actions, which in turn impacts student performance. It is my understanding that some of this work has already been initiated by the district through the implementation of the Belonging and Inclusion Collaborative which I will continue to support.
My definition of Inclusive Education is a space where all children are ensured a quality education without barriers such as age, language, culture or disability. Inclusive education is guided by values such as equality, appropriate participation of all students, and a respect for diversity. I believe that evaluating the intersection of race and school policies is something that can be done in order to maximize student performance and look at the impact of what is in place.