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School Board: District Is ‘Institutionally Racist,’ Sets Anti-Racism Goals

A policy that acknowledges historic and current “personal and institutional racism” in the school district, as well as a commitment to overcome it, was introduced on first reading at the July 23 Board of Education meeting.

In its “anti-racism” policy, the Board pledged to “end the predictive value of race and ensure the success of each individual student and staff member.”

“The Franklin Township Board of Education recognizes that personal and institutional racism have historically existed and continue to exist in Franklin Township Public Schools,” the resolution reads. “The Franklin Township Board of Education further recognizes that significant disparities between racial groups in student academic performance, achievement, and participation in academic programs exist.”

“The Franklin Township Board of Education rejects all forms of racism as destructive to the mission, vision, values, and goals of Franklin Township Public Schools,” the resolution reads.

“The Franklin Township Board of Education is committed to establishing and sustaining an equitable community that achieves its Equity Mission – to end the predictive value of race and ensure the success of each individual student and staff member,” the resolution reads. “The Franklin Township Board of Education further rejects all forms of racism as destructive to the mission, vision, values, and goals of Franklin Township Public Schools.”

Board member Pat Stanley cast the lone”no” vote on the policy’s introduction.

The policy states that disparities between races in the district “can be found in high school graduation rates, advanced course participation, standardized test scores, suspension rates, and the identification of students as gifted and talented, or requiring special education services. Disparities also exist between the racial demographics of the students in the district and the staff who the district hires.”

“These disparities or equity gaps are due to inequitable access to opportunities,” the policy reads. “They have significant generational effects and perpetuate economic, social, and educational inequity. But as racial inequities were created over time, they can be eliminated by systematic and thoughtful actions. Similarly, as personal prejudice is learned, it can be unlearned by reflection and purposeful actions.”

The policy sets the following goals for the district, and designates schools Superintendent John Ravally as the person leading the charge to meet them:

  • To establish and sustain a school community that shares the collective responsibility to address, eliminate, and prevent actions, decisions, and outcomes that result from and perpetuate racism.
  • To eliminate inequitable practices and cultivate the unique gifts, talents, and interests of every child to end the predictive value of social or cultural factors, such as race, class, or gender, on
    student success.
  • To respect and champion the diversity and life experiences of all community members.
  • To acknowledge that racism is often compounded by other forms of discrimination, including, but not limited to, access disparities, implicit bias and microaggressions.

“The Board of Education directs the Superintendent to develop regulations and procedures to support its Equity Mission and implement the above noted goals,” the policy reads.

The Board would review and re-adopt the policy annually.

The policy was brought to the Board by the district’s Core Equity Team, which has more than 20 members, said district spokeswoman Mary Clark.

The team has “been organized and working under the direction of Daniel Loughran, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction since the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. This work has taken many forms, one of which is the policy which went before the Board last week,” Clark said in an email.

Ravally said that the policy was brought to the school board’s Policy Committee “whose membership worked with the Core Equity Team to arrive at the recommended language.”

“The Core Equity Team is now working to further equity work within the district by identifying action steps necessary to implement the policy in key areas such as recruitment of teachers and disciplinary practices,” Ravally said in the statement. “More information on the district’s work in this area will be featured on our website this year.”

The board will take a final vote on the policy at its August meeting.

Also approved – although getting a “no” vote from Stanley – was a new textbook called “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You: A Remix of the National Book Award- Winning Stamped from the Beginning” for 8th Grade language arts and social studies classes.

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