The South Colonie Central School District’s work around diversity and inclusion moves forward on multiple fronts with the expansion of committee work and the continued commitment to enhancing the overall school environment, addressing diversity, inclusion, and equity across the district.
“While South Colonie created its Diversity and Inclusion Committee back in 2018 in order to create an inclusive workplace for our employees, our district felt strongly that we need to expand the work so that all students receive the best possible education in a safe, secure, stimulating— and welcoming learning environment,” said Dr. Perry Superintendent of Schools.
At the beginning of the school year, the committee changed its name to the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee with an expanded focus on the students. In addition to administrators, teachers, support staff, students, and community members represented on the committee, board of education representation was added and a quarterly schedule for meetings was set to continue to discuss, communicate, and create collaborations to support efforts that enhance equitable access to resources and opportunities for all.
“While the diversity of the South Colonie Central School District is one of our strengths, the melding into our school community of so many unique individuals has not been without challenges,” said Perry. “Although the district is committed to addressing a range of diversity-related issues that may impact a child’s education, after meeting in July it was evident that racial equity was a priority for our school community.”
To help support this effort, the committee developed a Cultural Proficiency Action Plan to identify opportunities for improvement as the district works to address complexities of racial equity, opportunity gaps, and increasing the pool of diverse applicants to help us meet the current needs of South Colonie students.
“The idea behind the Cultural Proficiency Action Plan is to provide a roadmap of our work,” said Perry. “The plan will be continuously revised based on data, research, and the work of our committee.”
A summary of the Cultural Proficiency Initiative, as outlined in the District’s plan, includes the following key areas of focus:
- Addressing institutional racism by creating a culture of racial equity and cultural proficiency;
- Developing and implementing an Equity Report Card to identify data trends and seek action to rectify any disproportionality identified from the analysis in order to eliminate race, class, ability, and gender as predictors of academic performance and social-emotional well-being in South Colonie Central Schools;
- Creating a professional development program that supports the inclusion of all in the workplace and equips staff with tools necessary to promote racial equity; and
- Increasing student, staff, and family engagement in cultural proficiency efforts.
The next steps for the committee include developing sub-committees at the high school, middle school, and elementary levels to develop exemplars of culturally responsive instructional practices and create a platform to share resources across the district.