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Archive for Topic: 'Equity'

WDMCS Students Explore Equity in Arts-Based Program

More than 50 students from Valley High School, Walnut Creek Campus, and Valley Southwoods Freshman High School had the opportunity to attend their first equity training session on Wednesday, Oct. 4. The students took part in Youth Equity Stewardship (YES!), an arts-based education program that is part of the Deep Equity framework chosen to guide the West Des Moines Community Schools’ equity work.

Youth Equity Stewardship Co-Founder/Executive Director Benjie Howard—son of Deep Equity creator Gary Howard—and Creative Director Wade Colwell-Sandoval led students through discussions and activities designed to help them examine their personal cultures and journeys. Songs, poems, and interactive activities supported the students’ learning.

In order to establish Tone and Trust, the first phase of Deep Equity training, students first worked together to create community agreements, guidelines for discussion that help to create a welcoming environment. WDMCS students’ community agreements included respecting the golden rule, assuming good intent, listening to understand, and collaborating. They also discussed stewardship and their personal strengths and growth areas as stewards in the community.

The students then completed an activity district staff experienced during their training in July. Students examined the statement “We, the people,” from the U.S. Constitution. They compared and contrasted the groups of people it represented in 1787—white, male property-owners—with the people present in the room. Then, they evaluated on a scale from zero to 100 percent how well the country has done making Constitution ideals accessible to all people. WDMCS students were approximately spread from 10 percent to 60 percent. They discussed social progress in small groups before representatives presented their thoughts to the entire group. The workshop ended with a discussion about what diversity is and a reflective poetry-writing activity. Students were given the opportunity to share these poems with the entire group. It was a powerful and emotional way to culminate the day’s activities.

Students will meet again on Jan. 24 and April 18 to continue their training. They will participate in three total days of training during the 2017-18 school year in order to build a greater understanding of equity, diversity, and issues of social justice.

Topics: Equity

WDMCS Superintendent Response to DACA Repeal

This week, the White House announced plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA offers protections for young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children. Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients are currently able to work and study in the U.S. due to the protections the program offers.

DACA Recission Fact Sheet

WDMCS Mission

In the West Des Moines Community Schools, our mission is to graduate students who can “thrive in and contribute to a diverse and changing world.” We are part of that diverse world. Our students represent more than 30 countries and have a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. Our mission applies to all of our students; regardless of background, each of them has the potential to thrive in and contribute to our community.

Our focus in the West Des Moines Community Schools is helping all students achieve that potential. Students will remain our focus, and we will continue to empower each of them to learn, grow, and succeed.

As we work together toward our mission, we must remember that diversity strengthens us. We will not tolerate racism or bigotry. Students, teachers, families, and staff members must respect one another, even when we do not agree and especially when events in our country highlight our differences rather than the things we have in common.

Recognizing and fostering each student’s potential is something that must be lived out each day. Let us work together in educating responsible lifelong learners who can thrive in and contribute to our community. We all can contribute to reaching this goal for our schools, our community, and our students.

Sincerely,
Lisa Remy, Ed.D.
Superintendent
West Des Moines Community Schools

Topics: Equity, Superintendent

District to Implement “Deep Equity” Framework

Next year, the WDMCS will begin systemic change to ensure equity for all students through the Deep Equity program.

After months of reviewing several frameworks for equity training and education, students, parents, community members, and employees who make up the district’s equity committee recommended the Deep Equity framework to guide the district’s work. On Monday, April 24, the Board of Education approved a $129,280 two-year contract with Corwin Press, Inc., Thousand Oaks, California, for services related to the Deep Equity framework. The district is seeking grant funding to help offset the expense of the contract.

The services include:

  • Deep Equity Leadership Coaching: Deep Equity Leadership Coaching will assist in designing and implementing equity and inclusion initiatives, review equity-related policies and processes, assess potential structural barriers to an inclusive learning environment, and conduct school equity audits and focus groups to assess strategic equity and inclusion outcomes.
  • In-School Support for Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams: This includes customized implementation visits designed to support Culturally Responsive Teaching Teams in schools.
  • School Board Awareness and Training: The School Board Awareness and Training Session explores the Board’s role in leading for equity.
  • Cultural Competence Professional Development for Support Staff: This invites school support staff to consider how they can transform their schools and workplaces to meet the diverse and complex needs of all employees and students.

It also includes a component for student education, which will culminate in students presenting their vision to the community as a whole.

“This is not a canned program, but is tailored to the needs of our district and our community,” said WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., at the April 24 School Board meeting. She also outlined the benefits of the program.

Read more about the district’s work regarding educational equity.

Topics: Equity, School Board News

Equity Committee Selects Framework

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WDMCS Equity Action Steps

A team of students, parents, community members, and West Des Moines Community Schools employees have selected a guiding structure for the district’s work to ensure equity for students.

At its meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017, the committee agreed to recommend the Deep Equity framework to guide the district as it addresses equity through professional development, leadership development, student relations, and curriculum.

The recommendation will be presented to the West Des Moines Community Schools Board of Education for approval.

The Deep Equity framework, based on the work of Gary Howard, helps schools and districts establish the climate, protocols, common language, and common goal of implementing culturally responsive teaching practices.

The framework is divided into 5 phases:

Phase 1: Tone and Trust

  • Build a climate of constructive collaboration and transcend the rhetoric of shame and blame.
  • Learn how to engage educators in open conversations about persistent inequities.

Phase 2: Personal Culture and Personal Journey

  • Define cultural competence and connect it with student outcomes.
  • Learn how lack of inclusivity in school climate can cause both adults and students to bring less than their full energy and focus to the classroom.

Phase 3: Social Dominance to Social Justice

  • Explore issues of privilege, power, and difference.
  • Link issues of dominance to current educational inequities.

Phase 4: Classroom Implications and Applications

  • Honor professionalism and the good intentions of the team, while critically examining how some of their own behaviors and beliefs may be getting in the way.
  • Learn which classroom interactions are most effective in reaching the full spectrum of diverse learners using the 7 Principles of Culturally Responsive Teaching.

Phase 5: Systemic Transformation/Planning for Change

  • Identify organizational barriers to equity and apply a three-stage model for organizational transformation.
  • Establish an evaluation design to track students outcomes and organizational growth.

Topics: Equity

District Equity Team to Select a Guiding Structure for Equity Work

A team of students, parents, community members, and West Des Moines Community Schools employees are close to selecting a guiding structure for the district’s work to ensure equity for students.

Since November, the West Des Moines Community Schools Equity Team has studied five frameworks that will guide the district as it addresses equity through professional development, leadership development, student relations, and curriculum. The selected framework will also help the district evaluate the effectiveness of its work.

“The most important work we have this year is to select a framework because it will guide all subsequent decisions [regarding equity],” said WDMCS Superintendent Lisa Remy, Ed.D., at a School Board workshop in September.

The team is studying the Anti-Racist Education, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Cross-Cultural Competence, Deep Equity, and Equity Pedagogy frameworks. Articles about each framework are available below.

Four of the frameworks were recommended by Iowa State University in its equity audit of Valley High School.

According to the district’s “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change,” the team will select a framework by Feb. 28, 2017.

For more information and background on the district’s equity work, please visit www.wdmcs.org/category/equity/.

Topics: Equity

District and Valley Announce Equity Team Members

Two new groups began working with the district and Valley High School on education equity in our schools. The district and Valley High School equity teams met for the first time on Thursday, Nov. 10. The membership of each team includes students, parents, community members, and employees.

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) Equity Team and the Valley High School Equity Team will strengthen the voices and participation of students, families, and community to inform district policies, practices, and procedures. They will also build capacity among students, teachers, staff, and administrators in transforming school policies and practices.

The district team will align districtwide efforts to an equity framework, which the group will select to guide the equity work. The Valley team will review school data and align schoolwide efforts to the work of the district team and framework.

In addition, Valley High School reviewed the results of the school’s equity audit to students in grade-level presentations in October.

The district and school used demographic data to ensure the membership of both teams represents our historically underrepresented students and staff populations.

The members of the WDMCS Equity Team are:

  • community members Mandy Abbas, Dan Berry, Brena Corona, Bernell Edwards, Gabriela Garza, Jim Hall, Phil Hall, Claudia Henning, Vicky Long Hill, J.D., Mark Hillenbrand, Byron Jarrett, Henny Ohr, Marshall Orsini, Travis Ourverson, Sanjita Pradhan, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, Michele Soria, and Le Mar Yeager;
  • students Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, and Angela Wilkening;
  • staff members Mike Beranek, Wanda Borger, Kim Davis, Ed.D., Becky Duchesneau, Janelle Green, Laurene Lanich, Ed.D., Tim Miller, Carol Seid, Lisa Remy, Ed.D., John Villotti, and Paul Wenger; and
  • WDMCS Board of Education President Tali Greenspon and members Liz Cox and Jill Caton Johnson, Ph.D.

The members of the Valley High School Equity Team are:

  • community members Milton Cole-Duvall, Brena Corona, Jana Edwards, Tina Hadden, Del Marion, Victoria McQuerry, Sheila Miller, Eva Otanez-Ortiz, Rich Salas, Heidi Samples, Josh Samples, Jackie Santana, Sonia Reyes-Snyder, and Craig Weatherall;
  • students Andrew Behrens, Savannah Burnham, Jackelin Castro, Tim Dorn, Blake Edwards, Marcos Flores, Daniela Gaytan, Rachel Greene, Thomas Hathaway, Jamia Jordan, Stacy Kabenda, JJ Kapur, Jessica Lewis, Olivia McQuerry, James Meng, Jade Miller, Teresa Otanez-Ortiz, Lizbeth Salinas-Reyes, Langston Samples, and Noah Samples; and
  • staff members Megan Dean, Jamie Ehlert, Kristin Friedrichs, Carrie Jacobs, Callie Kane, Stef Kaylor, David Maxwell, David Meeks, Tim Miller, Ryan Penning, Dave Perrigo, Brad Rose, Rob Schebel, Crystal Tate, Willie Thornton, Piet Van der Meer, and Erica Whittle.

Topics: Equity

WDMCS Taking Action to Address Education Equity

Equity workshop 092016 ewmedits

Race & Equity in Our Schools: Actions Steps for Positive Change

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) recently released its plan to address education equity in its schools. “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change” outlines short- and long-term action steps the district and Valley High School will take during the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

These steps include:

  1. Establish a District Equity Team—Complete by Oct. 31, 2016
  2. Establish a Valley High School Equity Team—Complete by Oct. 31, 2016
  3. Select a Framework to Focus Equity Work—Complete by Feb. 28, 2017
  4. Hire an Outside Entity to Provide Professional Development—Complete by April 30, 2017
Equity actionsteps slide

WDMCS Equity Action Steps

Details about these action steps are available in the full action plan document available here:

“Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change”

The district and Valley High School are currently working with community members and organizations to assemble the equity teams, which will hold their first meetings in November 2016. Once determined, the teams’ members will be announced, along with the date and time of their first meetings.

The goal of the equity work is to improve the district climate and culture in order to establish equitable practices for all students that:

  • eliminate systemic racial inequity,
  • provide equitable educational opportunities for students of color, and
  • nurture authentic and trusting relationships between staff and students and between students themselves to make a positive difference in how students of color experience school.

To learn more about this effort, including an equity audit the district commissioned from the Iowa State University, please see the following information publically available on the district website:

 

Equity Action Plan (Full Document): “Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change”

Equity Action Plan (PowerPoint): WDMCS Board of Education Workshop Session Presentation

Equity Audit (Full Document): “Developing an Action Plan for Creating a More Equitable School”

Equity Audit (PowerPoint): “VHS Racial Equity Report” Presentation

Equity Audit Presentation (Video): WDMCS Board of Education Workshop Sept. 12, 2016

 

Topics: Equity

WDMCS Making Positive Changes for Education Equity

The West Des Moines Community Schools (WDMCS) has released its plan to address education equity in its schools.

“Race & Equity in Our Schools: Action Steps for Positive Change” outlines short- and long-term steps the district and Valley High School will take during the 2016-17 school year and beyond.

Find the full plan and other resources at www.wdmcs.org/news/wdmcs-making-positive-changes-education-equity/.

Topics: Equity