Would you wear a watch and slippers made from carbon dioxide emissions? Or brush your teeth using toothpaste made from CO₂? Before the pandemic, students at Evergreen Middle School were learning about real products that capture and store carbon dioxide that would otherwise go into the atmosphere.
Engagement in Systemic Change
Schools and school districts are complex organizations that are made up of individuals, groups and systems. We must work in each of these areas to make measurable progress.
Each person in Lake Washington has a professional obligation to focus on their professional growth and understanding of issues related to equity, racial equity and systems of marginalization.
As an organization we value learning and to support this learning, we have continued to develop experiences that help each of us progress through the Cycle of Cultural Competency (Humility). People can be at various parts of the cycle and we want to continually build our awareness of issues of diversity, equity and inclusion at it relates to race, language, identity, etc. As our awareness grows, we want to develop a knowledge base of how the ways in which identity and systems interact and the ways in systems affect people as a result of their identity. As we grow our awareness and knowledge, we also need to grow our skills when it comes to thinking, listening and talking about these issues. By growing our awareness, knowledge and skills we are better able to advocate for changes and take action to implement those changes.
Much of our professional learning is either directly from or influenced by the work of Glenn Singleton’s Courageous Conversations About Race. All of our district administrators are engaged in a multi-year course of study in the Pacific Educational Group’s Beyond Diversity training series. These trainings are designed to help our leaders advance in the cycle of cultural competency/humility so that they are better equipped to lead their staff and engage with their community on issues of race and equity.
Courageous Conversations challenges us to:
- Stay engaged
- Experience discomfort
- Speak our truth
- Expect and accept non-closure
Additionally, this work helps us understand our own positions as we enter into conversations of race and equity using a compass that orients us towards:
Finally, our teacher and principal evaluation frameworks both center equity.
The principal framework challenges leaders to become racially literate by actively pursuing “a deep understanding of their own individual racial identity, continually hone their ability to recognize structural and systemic racism, and courageously change the status quo.”
The teacher framework calls out that “a commitment to excellence is not complete without a commitment to equity.” The framework highlights cultural competence, high expectations, developmental appropriateness, attention to individual students, and student assumption of responsibility.
Teams of LWSD professionals have an obligation to collectively focus on issues related to equity, racial equity and systems of marginalization.
Furthermore, engaging in systemic change requires adaptive and creative solutions that are achieved in collaboration with those that are impacted by those systems. As part of our value on connection we will be challenging each of our groups in the district to progress along the continuum of authentic community engagement. Traditionally, schools and districts have focused on informing and consulting with parents. For us to truly make progress in transforming our schools, we will need to do better at involving, collaborating and empowering our parents and students to co-create equitable learning experiences.
Two immediate ways in which we aim to make progress are with our district and building equity teams.
|District Equity Team||Building Equity Team|
Our district equity team is a diverse, committed and powerful group of parents, community members, and educators that has advised and challenged the district to continually do better.
This year we will be asking the district equity team to play a more active role in shaping the policies and goals of our district and departments.
Our schools formed equity teams two years ago in order to have a group of educators focused on the ways in which our students experiences where being shaped by the systems and practices at each school.
This year we will be expecting that every school will engage parents as members of their equity teams so that this work is inclusive of the experiences and expertise of the people who know their student best.
As an organization, LWSD has an obligation to provide collective voice and experience related to equity, racial equity and systems of marginalization. Our collective work must focus on changes, adjustments, and enhancements to our systems.
This systemic change will primarily be achieved through three areas of work:
- Department Goals
- Strategic Goals
As a district, we are committed to adopting an administrative equity policy by the end of this calendar year. It is important that this policy is reflective of the interests of our community and to that end our department of Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion has been engaged in facilitating listening experiences with a variety of groups throughout the year to gather interests.
Additionally, we know that existing administrative policies will need to be revised in order to create the conditions for more equitable outcomes.
The work of the district is shared by numerous departments. Each of these departments from Transportation to Human Resources has an impact on the learning and environments that our students experience each day. This year, each department will be expected to develop a goal specific to addressing equity.
These goals will be:
Departments will develop their goals in partnership with our department of Opportunity, Equity, and Inclusion as well as in consultation with our District Equity Team. We will be publishing department goals on our website as they are developed.