On March 10, the D303 School Board voted to hire Deep Equity in order to promote equity in St. Charles schools. This equity work was started by hiring Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tracy Taylor; additional goals include creating a youth equity stewardship program, conducting an equity audit and including professional learning for district administrators and building leadership teams. The motion was passed as a result of student protests that urged the board to implement an equity program.
According to Corwin, Deep Equity’s publisher, Deep Equity is a framework that analyzes school districts’ academic data and cultural environments to implement changes in protocol and policy that promotes a better understanding of diversity and equality in both staff and students, as well as raising test scores and honors/AP class enrollment.
During the May 10 meeting, members of the D303 School Board called for more discussion on June 14 to potentially vote to terminate the contract between the district and Deep Equity. We urge the school board to keep the contract as it will promote academic learning, cultural understanding and create an overall more inclusive environment within the district.
Opponents of Deep Equity say that the programs are too divisive. We say that we’re already divided, and that promoting equity is the only thing that will solve it. Reflecting on our current behavior and practices will help us better understand each other by respecting our differences, as well as creating a level playing field for all students. “Colorblindness” and other variations of ignoring differences doesn’t work. What does work is acknowledging differences within our community and celebrating them by becoming educated.
Under Deep Equity, minority students will not receive any “special treatment.” They will simply be shown compassion and understanding. We, as students, don’t all come from the same background. We are all parts of different cultures, races, religions, financial backgrounds and personal experiences. These are characteristics that make us unique individuals and shouldn’t be discounted.
Another criticism of Deep Equity is that it’s too political–when in fact it is not political at all. Wanting children to learn about different viewpoints on a subject and hear from multiple voices besides their own is not a political issue. It is not “pushing an agenda.” It is providing them a well-rounded education, one we wish we were given when we were younger.
We wish we learned about our internal biases in school instead of having to do it on our own time. We wish we learned the truth about history, not just the white-washed version of it we were provided. We wish we were educated about different cultures and groups in school. Our English class curriculums are dominated by white men. For many of us, the first time we were assigned to read a book written by an author of color was in high school. To this day, we have not read a book in class written by an author who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. This is not because there’s a lack of diverse authors. This is because currently, the curriculum prioritizes the same authors it did 50 years ago. As society changes, public education should, too.
Equity is about intersectionality–that means uplifting all kinds of students. Students of color, queer students, transgender students, poor students, female students and students of different religions deserve the same kind of representation and understanding that white cisgender heterosexual rich male students get. Equity is not an attack on white cisgender heterosexual rich male students; it is simply bringing every other kind of student up to the same standard of treatment that they get–not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.
Every student is required to do some sort of social emotional learning (SEL) lesson every semester. Why can’t we incorporate diversity and the idea of equity into these lessons?
We’ve heard board members agree that we, as a district, need equity training and an audit to find areas where we can improve and become more equitable. The question lies in how the audit should be performed–internally or by an outside group? Think about it this way: when someone does their taxes incorrectly, they get audited. Does the IRS let them audit themself, where they could easily cover up their mistakes, and move on without fixing the problem, or does the IRS, an outside group, come in?
The whole point of Deep Equity is to help us find the areas where we, and our curriculums, are biased. They can point out parts we might miss with an internal audit or problems we might gloss over because we don’t want to deal with them. After all, it would be easier to keep everything as it is. But to continue everything as it is now would be to ignore the student voices that worked so hard to be heard and got Deep Equity hired in the first place, as well as to perpetuate the idea that our district is perfect when it clearly is not.
Really, this is about the students. Parents do not know what it is currently like to be educated in this school district because they are not currently being educated in this school district. They don’t experience the same environments that students do, which is why students’ voices are vital to this conversation. Parents won’t feel the impact of Deep Equity as much, but the kids who are taught the value of cultural awareness and who become better people and students as a result will.
All editors on the Stargazer staff have, at one point or another in our education here in D303, known other students who could greatly benefit from equity lessons. That includes us, too. Everyone can benefit from this program, and we look forward to learning more about how we can help our district become more equitable and help our community become better for everyone inside it.
We urge the school board to not terminate the contract with Deep Equity on June 14. We have seen ignorance, hate and misinformation run rampant through the halls of our schools and believe the district must at least try to put an end to it by employing Deep Equity. We are the next generation of doctors, engineers and world leaders. More than that, we will go on to pursue various occupations, join other communities, and transform the world. We will meet new people, share new experiences, and become individuals in our own right. How will we be prepared for the real world if we don’t even learn more about the different perspectives, backgrounds and cultures of all those in our district?
Shouldn’t we be taught to respect others–not despite our differences, but because of them? Shouldn’t we at least get the chance to become overall better educated people with the knowledge of multiple perspectives? We think we should.
The purpose of the staff editorial is to start a conversation. The editorial topic and stance are discussed and agreed on by all members of the editorial board. While only one editor writes the article and the editorial may not represent each editor’s opinion 100%, it does represent an editorial consensus. Again, the purpose is discussion. Let us know what you think through Twitter @SCNNewspaper and email at [email protected]