Colorado Springs School District 11 recently disbanded its equity leadership team, according to district officials.
Alexis Knox-Miller, district equity and inclusion director, reluctantly made the decision to disband the 40-member volunteer team as a preventative measure as his department braces for the possible repercussions of the results. the November school board elections.
“I have made the administrative decision to dissolve the team as we determine the direction this board wants to go in terms of fairness,” Knox-Miller said.
The three new members of the District 11 board of directors – Rev. Al Loma, Sandra Bankes and Lauren Nelson – have all expressed doubts and concerns about the work of the equity and inclusion department during their campaigns.
The result of the district election mirrored the results of Districts 20 and 49, where candidates for the conservative platforms won almost every contested council race.
The Equity and Inclusion department has recently come under criticism as some parents and residents – mostly white – accused the district of moving away from teaching basic academic skills in favor of promoting a program. Politics.
â(The work on equity) is not partisan, and it is not political,â said former equity team member Naomi Lopez. “But some people are trying to use the problem for these purposes, and it is hurting our students.”
Alexis Claycomb, graduate student in social work and former member of the equity team, said the overall ideological makeup of the board does not bode well for the district’s most vulnerable students.
âI don’t see much concern for equity work in the district going forward,â Claycomb said. âI feel bad for the students because they are the ones who are going to suffer. “
The word “fairness” has often been associated with critical race theory, which has been a source of controversy and heated debate in school boards across the country, despite the fact that it is rarely taught below grade. superior Studies. Several people have spoken out vehemently against the term at recent board meetings.
Julie Ott, the oldest member of the D-11 board, said she believed the anti-fairness sentiment was due, in part, to a lack of understanding.
âI think we need to explain it better, so that people are better informed about it,â Ott said. âThis is important work that needs to be done if we are to have all of our students succeed.
âI think it’s very important that we educate the community on the work we’re trying to do,â Lopez agreed.
If recent board meetings are any indication, Ott and Lopez may have their work cut out for them.
At the December 8 meeting, a statement from the El Paso / Teller County branch of the Intolerance and Racism Foundation received an enthusiastic response from many in attendance.
“We urge the board to thoroughly review and revise the equity policy adopted on May 27, 2020 to eliminate essentialist racial assumptions about systemic racism and group outcomes,” said Judith Sears, member of the foundation. âRevise the equity policy to reflect the need for fair and equal treatment of all individuals, regardless of group identity. “
Sears went on to say that fairness work emphasizes a person’s skin color as a predictor of academic achievement and less on other factors such as “conduct, values ââor the realizations “.
Knox-Miller said the board has yet to take a public position on fairness, but former team members believe it’s only a matter of time.
âHopefully the department can stay put,â Lopez said. “But it doesn’t look good.”
Ott stressed that the equity and inclusion department still exists, albeit in a different form, and that equity work will be among the many topics the board will discuss over the coming months.
“I think we would all agree that we need to tackle whatever is holding our students back,” Ott said. âThe question is, can we agree on what these things are? “
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