Fostering diversity, equity, and social justice is an integral part of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District’s core values. We continue to be mindful of our rich history as it affects our institutional viability and vitality. We recognize that education can both enhance individuals and strengthen communities.
We seek to overcome the social, cultural, and educational barriers that members of our diverse population may experience through advocacy, community engagement, and professional development. We believe we must directly confront issues of diversity and social justice in order to alleviate the inequitable practices and outcomes these issues spawn. Our aim, and working definition of educational equity is:
Raising the achievement of all students while narrowing the gaps between the highest and lowest performing students, and eliminating the predictability and disproportionality of which student groups occupy the highest and lowest achievement categories. Adopted from the work of Singleton and Linton, Courageous Conversations About Race…(2006).
Our Social Justice Initiative is designed to develop new learning and methods for understanding cultural responsiveness & educational equity. We offer two year-long programs of study that give participants the tools to process how we look at, and talk about, issues of social justice using the lens of race, and helps them to develop and connect new approaches that can complement and reinforce existing educational practices. These commitments were affirmed in a resolution passed by the MRH Board of Education on February 16, 2017.
Making Equity Visible at MRH
The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District Board of Education is committed to the success of every student in each of our schools. Considering MRH’s mission and goals, MRH recognizes that elements including, but not limited to, socio-economic status, disability, race, ethnicity and gender, can deprive students of educational equity. MRH seeks to remove educational hurdles for all children. Educational Equity – Educational policies, practices, interactions and resources are representative of, constructed by, and responsive to all people such that each individual has access to, can participate, and make progress in high-quality learning experiences that empower them toward self-determination and reduce disparities in outcomes regardless of individual characteristics and cultural identities. (Fraser, 1986; Great Lakes Equity Center, 2012, n.p.)
Educational Equity Policy ACJ, adopted February 20, 2020
Yearly Review of Disaggregated Data
The MRH Board strives to be data-driven in our decision-making. As such, we commit to review disaggregated data in the following categories: race, gender, disability, and, when possible, socioeconomic status. The MRH Board will review said data on an annual basis as part of program evaluations and equity audits. MRH will be unflinching in our examination of the data to show areas of strength and progress as well as to identify areas where discriminatory practices, prejudices, and implicit bias prevent the district from providing students educational equity.
The disaggregated data will include the following:
- State test scores;
- Staff hiring, retention, and promotions;
- Discipline data;
- Family and community engagement activities;
- Gifted screening;
- Dual Credit and AP classes; and
- MRH Facilities and access.
Foundational Questions to Consider when Making Decisions
“Their most important work will be the changes we see in our institutions and our workplaces, in our communities, and in our interactions with one another. Change of this magnitude is hard; but maintaining the status quo is simply not acceptable.” – Governor Jay Nixon at the Ferguson Commission Announcement Ceremony
In our effort to dismantle the status quo and ensure each student receives educational equity, MRH and the Board will draw from the work of the Ferguson Commission and ask three approved questions promoted by it when reviewing or making new policy, programs and other district decisions:
- Whom does this benefit?
- Does this differentially impact (racial and ethnic, gender, socio-economic, disabled) groups?
- What can be included to decrease or eliminate disparities?*
MRH Board, Superintendent Partner With MAP Equity Assistance Center
The Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP) is one of four regional Equity Assistance Centers, funded by the United States Department of Education under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The MAP Center provides technical assistance and training in the areas of race, sex, national origin, and religion to public school districts and other responsible governmental agencies to promote equitable educational opportunities and work in the areas of civil rights, equity, and school reform. The Center entered a partnership with MRH schools to achieve the following:
- Improve distribution of effective teachers and principals;
- Improve school engagement, environment, and school safety, as well as family and community engagement in schools;
- Increase and support data-based decision making related to the use of research-based, culturally responsive curricula and instructional practices in classrooms, schools, and districts;
- Build coalitions between higher education, PreK-12 systems, communities, and families;
- Promote equity by addressing the needs of historically underserved students, including students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds;
- Address the disproportionate representation of minority students in special, gifted, and advanced placement (AP) programs as well as STEM education;
- Support, develop, and disseminate effective approaches to school dropout prevention and reentry;
- Support districts transitioning to unitary status in desegregation cases.
October 8, 2020 Board Presentation on Forward Through Ferguson report: Still Separate, Still Unequal:
The Still Separate Still Unequal report can be found here: http://stillunequal.org/
Still Separate, Still Unequal overview project trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/
The tool looks upstream at structural inequities in segregation, property taxes, funding, and education environments that contribute to the student outcome racial disparities we are all so familiar with. Forward Through Ferguson sought to uncover the underlying, interconnected, and sometimes “behind-the-scenes” factors that contribute to what we see and experience within St. Louis public schools and found:
- The St. Louis region’s education funding landscape is highly uneven, and it’s not an accident. Majority-White districts spent over $2,000 more per student and received $1700 more in funding per student than Majority-Black districts. The largest funding gap between individual districts was about $14,000 more per student.
- Funding education through property taxes is inequitable. Majority-White district communities have almost twice the property wealth and household incomes than Majority-Black districts, who must tax themselves at a higher rate to try to make up the difference.
- Federal, state, and local policies and practices led to de jure and then de facto segregation in our region and schools. Today, St. Louis area public schools are almost as segregated as 60 years ago before meaningful integration took place, with 78% of public school students attending a racially concentrated district.
- Racialized differences in funding contribute to differences in education environments. For example, teachers and administrators at majority-Black districts are paid on average about $6,000 and $15,000 less, respectively, than majority-White districts. For example, 1 in 4 Black students doesn't have access to AP or calculus classes.