As part of Groton Public Schools’ Social Emotional Learning model, we are adopting a mission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with a DEI committee of nearly 100 staff, students and community members working together to turn research, professional learning, and awareness into action.
Charged with cultivating an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness to ensure ALL groups feel valued, actively engaged, and empowered
Foster educational change; to remove obstacles to fairness and access; and advancement to meet the needs and aspirations of the multicultural population that GPS serves.
The CSDE has established seven priorities that local educational agencies must address in their reopening plan. One of those priorities is equity. Districts and schools are to “identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.” The DEI committee is paramount in our pursuit to safeguard inclusion, equity, and access for all students. An initial actionable step that Groton Public Schools’ will take is Student Voice DEI subcommittee; organizing a Zoom/Google Meet in which students in grade 5-12 could discuss their experiences – successes and concerns with distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and acts of racial and social injustice witnessed in communities across the nation and globally. If we want to be truly informed about whether students feel a sense of belongingness, a sense of fairness, and a sense of opportunity, or not, we need to listen to what our students have to say. Explicit engagement needs to occur. In doing so, we begin to address several of your subcommittee’s essential questions:
How do we give the students the power to take action and feel heard?;
How do we bring the students in on planning?;
What are the avenues for student voice impact?;
How do we utilize the older students to help impact the younger students?;
How do we create opportunities for student voice to touch and speak directly with people in power?; and
Establish a tangible step that aligns with Goal 3 – build pathways for students to know their voice can be heard.
The duration of the meeting is 1 hour, with 8-10 questions that cover distance learning, racial and social injustice and unrest, and reopening concerns and considerations. The information gleaned will be shared with the BOE and schools to help guide our reopening initiatives.
Each DEI sub-committee is charged with critical analysis and research of the topics which are centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion through their finds they will draft a report and make recommendations to BOE and schools. For example, the Education sub-committee curates resources such as Anti-racism and implicit bias and literature. They are recommending multiple-day Anti-racism professional development.
Eight DEI sub-committees meet weekly and have set goals for the beginning of the year:
Awareness and Action
Collaboration and Community Relation
Teaching and Learning
Recruitment, Hiring, and Retention
The results from these committees will be to “identify gaps and develop action plans for reopening that specifically address inclusion, equity, and access for all learners with strategies and clearly defined action steps.”