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Committee for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

https://debbyirving.com/21-day-challenge/The district’s mission to educate and prepare all students to reach their potential, discover their purpose, and be engaged community members would be impossible to fulfill without a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. In 2017-18, the district established a Committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (CEDI) to identify areas to improve support for diverse students and increase awareness of unconscious bias. At the time, the committee included only a small number of staff members but has since grown to include dozens of administrators and faculty members districtwide. The scope of the committee’s work has grown as well, with a broad vision and a set of goals within the areas of academics, character, community and wellness. These four goal areas provide the framework for the district’s five-year Strategic Plan 2019-2024.

CEDI Vision

Bethlehem Central School District is committed to supporting an environment in which all members of our school community feel free to engage as their authentic selves in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility.

CEDI Goals

Academics

  • Create and maintain a welcoming, inclusive and equitable school climate that promotes learning
  • Provide curriculum and materials that represent and affirm student identities

Character

  • Provide professional development that supports innovative, inclusive, and culturally responsive teaching and learning

Community

  • Recruit, retain and develop a diverse faculty and staff
  • Collaborate with community partners to provide access and opportunities for students
  • Amplify student voices and encourage student leadership opportunities 

Wellness

  • Provide inclusive programs that strengthen the emotional and physical wellness of students and staff

CEDI focuses on:

  • race
  • gender
  • poverty
  • class issues
  • gender identity
  • gender expression
  • sexual orientation
  • mental health
  • disability/special needs
  • issues specific to women/girls
  • religion and beliefs
  • family status
  • national origin
  • home language
  • immigration status
  • weight
  • age

    Academics

    To effectively educate students from diverse backgrounds, it is important that the school district use a systemic approach that reflects its mission to educate all learners. This requires reviewing policies, practices and procedures to ensure they are aligned to the needs of all students, providing rigor and relevance and opportunities to achieve.

    Create and maintain a welcoming, inclusive and equitable school climate that promotes learning

    Where we are: Striving for cultural proficiency

    Since 2018-19, the district has partnered with an outside consultant, Generation Ready, to help our school community achieve cultural proficiency. Cultural proficiency is defined as an ongoing process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, sexes, ethnic backgrounds, religions, sexual orientations, abilities and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each. Learning opportunities are maximized in a culturally proficient environment.

    In fall 2019, the experts at Generation Ready conducted “equity walks” at each of the district’s seven schools to assess buildings and classrooms as a way of measuring the district’s cultural responsiveness. The report can be found below:

    What’s next: School-specific action plans

    In March 2020, all schools in the Bethlehem Central School District were developing action plans that are intended to help move the schools toward cultural proficiency by introducing new ideas and strategies at the building level to build both skills and content knowledge that have a positive impact on student achievement. The physical environment is also a focus of these plans, ensuring that diverse cultures, languages, orientations and identities are reflected and valued. These plans were interrupted by the school closure due to COVID-19. The building-level plans are expected to resume in 2020-21.

    Provide curriculum and materials that represent and affirm student identities

    Where we are: A dialogue about cultural relevance in classroom materials

    As part of the committee’s work with Generation Ready, we have been learning how to identify curriculum and materials that have lost relevance to students today.

    What’s next: Provide direction on diversifying curriculum, materials

    The committee is able to serve in an advisory role to help building-level teaching teams at the elementary level and department-level teams at the secondary level with diversity curriculum and materials K-12. The initial focus will be to provide resources for broadening literature selections and using social studies materials that reflect the world around us. Resources will also be available for those who may be looking for additional ways to connect instructional content with the daily lives of students.


      Character

      The district has a collective responsibility to learn about student cultures and communities and provide schools and classrooms that represent and affirm student identities. In doing so, we must recognize how our own culture shapes our thinking. It is important to commit to engaging in the learning journey to better meet the needs of all BC students.

      Provide professional development that supports innovative, inclusive and culturally responsive teaching and learning

      Where we are: Providing staff with ongoing professional development in the following areas

      • Faculty Workshop on Implicit Bias, Microaggressions, Diversity, Tolerance & Equity, Karen Loscocco, Ph.D. University at Albany
      • Faculty Presentation on the Power of Inclusion and Voice in an Organizational Culture, Gregory G. Owens, LCSW, University at Albany
      • Faculty Presentation on Reducing Obstacles and Barriers for Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and LGBTQ+ Youth, Lyndon Cudlitz, Speaker & Anti-Oppression Educator
      • Faculty Presentation, Underrepresented Student Voices
      • Full-Day Administrative Workshop on Workplace Diversity and Raising Awareness of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. John Coverdale, Founder and Consultant, The Center for Workplace Solutions

      What’s next: Listening more, learning more, adding more student voices

      A goal for the 2020-21 school year is to provide additional professional development that focuses on the student experience, as well as response to current events, societal trends and the social-emotional impact of these on students. 


        Community

        Recruit, retain and develop a diverse faculty and staff

        Where we are: Updated hiring guidelines 

        With the assistance of outside consultants, the district completed an assessment of hiring practices to reduce barriers to recruiting qualified applicants in a diverse and inclusive way. This has included building more awareness and providing training to district hiring committees on how to reduce implicit bias in the interview process, expand pipelines for recruitment of teachers and leaders, and incorporate other best practices for enhancing diverse and inclusive work environments. A more diverse workforce (i.e. teachers who identify as people of color, LGBTQ+, differently-abled) provides students with an affirmative environment in which to learn, grow and achieve.

        What’s next: Paying close attention to data

        A welcoming school climate is as important for staff as it is for students. Data and feedback that helps us identify reasons for the departure of former employees, as well as data from the annual School Climate Survey for employees, gives us an important look at information that can aid in employee retention and in maintaining a supportive and diverse work environment. 

        Collaborate with community partners to provide access and opportunities for students

        Where we are: Access is key to the achievement of all students

        Several years ago, the Bethlehem Central School District recognized that providing one-to-one instructional technology to students in the form of Chromebooks was vital to ensuring equity. The high school has also made equity and access guiding principles for enrollment in its Advanced Placement programs. The high school provides all students who are willing to take on the rigor of these courses the opportunity to participate in AP. A Bridge to College college preparation program was introduced in 2019 to help eliminate barriers to the college application process that can exist for first-generation college students and English as a New Language (ENL) students. Access to educational and social opportunities for students of all ages who receive special education services is the focus of a new Parent Advisory Committee (PAC) that meets regularly to provide suggestions and guidance on ways to improve access and the student experience.

        What’s next: Expanding outreach and communications

        Communication is key to increasing student access and participation. The committee and district will work to increase communication both internally and externally to help achieve greater equity for students and to promote successful initiatives in meeting the needs of students in underrepresented groups. Ongoing family engagement will also be a priority.

        Amplify student voices and encourage student leadership opportunities

        Where we are: Student voices are impactful

        Students at BC, particularly at the middle and high school levels, have opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities that challenge them to be socio-politically conscious and socio-culturally responsive. In these activities, students have the opportunity to learn from other students and build stronger relationships.

        What’s next: Listen first, lead by example

        Create “listening conferences” led by trained facilitators to help all stakeholders to discuss cultural and social values, understand one another and resolve conflict. In addition, create more learning communities and discussion groups at school for both staff and students to engage in topics that directly address unique, diverse identities. 


          Wellness

          Foster inclusive programs that strengthen the emotional and physical wellness of students and staff

          Where we are: Numbers shine a light on areas of need

          School climate surveys in 2018-19 and 2019-20 revealed that while students feel supported by faculty and staff they are feeling less confident when it comes to student-to-student relationships. Students also identified issues they felt needed to be addressed including dress code fairness between males and females and favoritism of girls vs. boys and of athletes vs. non-athletes. District administrators have broken down the data by demographics to reflect diverse stakeholders’ impressions and experiences, focusing on the questions that consider issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. This data has been shared with school leaders and with teachers to build awareness and identify opportunities for improvement.

          What’s next: Focusing on student support, student relationships

          Provide space for teachers and staff to process and determine how to engage with students and families after social and political events have impacted the wider community. Provide more opportunities for students to build strong relationships with one another in the class and school communities by ensuring every student is affirmed and valued.