CRCSD is committed to developing opportunities
for students and staff to support an anti-racisM
Superintendent Noreen Bush provides a summary of activity during Summer 2020:
July 31, 2020
The Cedar Rapids Community School District conducted Anti-Racism Virtual Town Hall Meetings during the month of July 2020 as a means to listen, learn, and discuss anti-racism efforts in our school district. This report provides a summary of the themes that surfaced as a result of the town hall meetings. In addition, there are suggested next steps for the district and community. CRCSD recognizes that the work around anti-racism, equity, and creating a safe, supportive, and collaborative culture will continue to be both a short term and long term focus for our school district.
Sessions: There were six virtual town hall meetings conducted on July 14, 15, and 16, 2020. There were over 170 attendees across the six sessions, including students, staff, parents, community members, administrators, and Board of Education directors. The sessions were facilitated by the superintendent and district office administrators. The following questions guided the conversations:
- What should the role be of CRCSD in our community in modeling anti-racism efforts? What would be our “ideal” state?
- What efforts have you seen within our school district that have helped students, staff, and community members of color?
- What can we do to improve to better support our students, staff, and community members of color?
- Other feedback/considerations.
Themes Surfaced: The following themes surfaced in more than one session conversation as pressing concerns or ideas to address and develop action steps as a school district.
- Create Black Student Unions in every high school with support systems
- Develop opportunities for students to more easily and effectively voice concerns: anonymous digital reporting via website link; adult connections and relationships that proactively seek student input
- Develop a student advisory team for the superintendent comprising and representing all student populations specifically to address culture, equity, anti-racism, and student-focused solutions to address concerns. This student advisory team could also be called upon to report to the Board of Education Directors.
- Broaden the Black History Month assemblies that Washington and Kennedy have created; ask for all high schools to create an experience that could be shared with middle and elementary students as well.
- Design a Students of Color Mentoring program; high school students working with middle school and elementary age students: reading programs and learning activities to share and model with younger students.
- Invite student voice and perspective to develop professional development and learning for adults in the district.
Professional Learning and Development
- Continue to use the Intercultural Development Inventory, but expand the resource to all adults in the district and create clear targets for accountability and growth for adult learning. Consider integrating the pillars and concepts from IDI as learning
- Identify cultural competency learning goals for all adults with identified training for all
- Create opportunities for staff and students to have open conversations about race, culture, restorative practices, and anti-racism
- Continue to provide book studies, professional learning opportunities, and workshops for ALL staff: microaggressions, implicit bias, cultural development, anti-racism, mindset
- Create a safe and supportive environments to assist staff members in addressing topics that may have made them uncomfortable in the past
Teaching and Learning
- Review all curriculum content and evaluate if multicultural content is represented throughout the curriculum year--not just in February and Black History Month
- All cultural representations need to be embedded throughout course content...not just as a separate unit, lesson, or moment in the school year
- Review the high school African American Literature and History courses and secure them as meeting core requirements; assure that all English and Social Studies content includes African American Literature and History
- Evaluate students’ course selections; use specific strategies to support students of color enrollment in future ready pathway courses
- Develop accountability and student feedback strategies to address curriculum content and multicultural representation within curriculum
- Consider other priorities that have been implemented throughout curriculum, for example anti-bullying efforts; prioritize anti-racism in the same manner
- Evaluate systems and structures that have created systemic racism overtime (assessments, course tracking, prerequisites, and state reporting)
Staffing and Diversifying Workforce
- Continue to implement Diversifying Workforce Strategic Plan for recruiting and “build our own” efforts
- Create a system for current employees of color to support their needs, collaborate with each other, and be deliberate as a district to pronounce this priority
- Evaluate hiring practices and prepare leaders and hiring managers to actively seek people of color into open positions
Community and Parent Support
- Connect with community partners and businesses to secure wrap around supports for families
- Consider a Parent to Parent support within schools: specific support to English Language Learning families
- Continue to leverage community partnerships, and expand the understanding of their programming so that all staff better understands how to support each other
- Secure language translation for all community members
- Create community and home visit systems--families do not always feel safe coming to school environments
- Utilize community spaces and places for school and community activities (parks, churches, community spaces)
- Expand ELL programming to all buildings
- Continue to utilize 1:1 device access for equity and access; provide families with learning in HOW to utilize technology tools for access
Next Steps: There were many suggestions for action steps. This list reflects the most common themes. Timelines need to be developed for action steps, which could be designed in collaboration with students, staff, and district leaders.
- The district administration team will review professional learning priorities and identify leveraging resources to support clear learning targets for professional learning for all employees.
- District administration will work with student leaders to develop priorities and connections to professional development opportunities between staff and students.
- A district employee design team will be formed to create a system to support employees of color.
- Family engagement strategies will be designed and developed for both long term and short term improvement efforts.
- The superintendent’s office will develop a process to invite students to be a part of an advisory council. This advisory council could also be a design team to create student supports: anonymous reporting, assemblies, BSU cross training, peer to peer mentoring, student-led learning for professional development, etc.
- The district will work with each school’s leadership team on targeting specific goals and efforts to create student voice opportunities in school improvement efforts.
- Analyze disproportionate discipline and learning data and continue to make strategic plans for improvement.
Cedar Rapids Community School District
CRCSD Staff Commitment via Intercultural Development Inventory
Cedar Rapids Community School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive, and collaborative culture in which diversity of every learner is valued and embraced. Our district is leaning into this value by ensuring our leaders are continuously growing in their intercultural development. A foundational measure of this work has centered on the use of the Intercultural Development Inventory. This inventory is a validated tool that allows educators to identify how well they are able to bridge across differences. This developmental tool has provided educators throughout our district with actionable data and resources for engaging in more equitable practices. With the help of Nehrwrodrbote Abdul-Wahid, CRCSD’s district and building leaders, along with thirteen schools, have engaged in this meaningful work. Although intercultural development is a continuous journey, those involved have seen positive results.
This year district and building administrators will continue to grow their intercultural mindset by engaging in rigorous professional learning and engaging in critical dialogue. Several other buildings are also making the commitment to this important work. Our district is looking forward to the positive impact this work will have on serving the students and families of CRCSD.
- “White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
- “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad
- “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi
- “We Want to Do More than Survive” by Dr. Bettina L. Love
- “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
- “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
- “Race Talk” by Derald Wing Sue
- “White Rage” by Carol Anderson