Thanks for joining us online to share your feedback and ideas about equity in Charlottesville City Schools. Our staff and School Board have been seeking community input through events, online tools, emails, and face-to-face conversations. We would like to reflect back to you what we have been hearing so that you can say whether (or not) these are the ideas that are important to you.
This survey recreates the activities of our second community forum for people who could not attend the forum in person. Thanks for sharing your perspective with us.
What We Heard: Statement Station 1
Make supports (like tutoring) easily available.
The schools have programs, but students and families are not always aware of these supports and how to access them.
Re-examine the QUEST (gifted) program.
It is seen as a “first step” to internal segregation. At a minimum, the gifted program needs to rebuild public trust so people understand its commitment to diversity. Or perhaps it needs to be redesigned.
Strengthen school culture/discipline/supports.
Positive school culture includes (1) maintaining good, fair discipline, (2) welcoming all student and staff, (3) teaching social/emotional skills, (4) supporting students with trauma, and (5) promoting safety. Continue this good work.
Hire and support teachers of color.
Hiring and supporting teachers of color is (and has been) a big value for our schools. This is challenging since teachers of color are in demand in all schools, and there is a national shortage for teachers.
Continue planning for facilities with an eye on equity.
Do the transitions from elementary to Walker to Buford to CHS hurt students? Modernizing facilities can also support learning for all students. (A separate item on this list calls for revisiting elementary attendance zones.)
Explore outside factors that impact schools.
A study from Stanford breaks down “school” and “non-school” factors that lead to racial achievement disparities. Can our community address the “non-school” factors?
Learn from good educational models.
Are the schools watching peer school districts that look like us? Can we learn from African-American schools (of past or present)? Can we lean more into resources like UVa or national or regional partners?
Make school data more available.
Some suggestions: QUEST data, percentage of teachers of color, suspension rates…
What We Heard: Statement Station 2
What We've Heard: Statement Station #3
Promote student diversity within classrooms.
Consider unleveling classes where possible and minimizing pull-out instruction.The CHS Black Student Union suggests creating a cohort of students of color enrolled in advanced, predominantly white classes.
Make sure that students/families set personal goals, not the school.
Students/families need to get info and support early so they can set and achieve their goals for classes, diploma type, and future plans.
Nurture relationships and mentoring.
Examples already in place at the schools are student to student, adult to student, parent to teacher. Could PTOs or schools establish parent to parent groups?
Re-examine the Advanced Placement program.
AP classes are not diverse. They don’t guarantee college credit. The AP program adds pressure for some kids to participate and for some kids to over-participate. Is expanding dual enrollment a better choice? Let’s have a broad conversation about AP.
Define our most important equity goals.
What’s most important: Comparing white/black students? Making sure everyone has access & support for opportunities? Comparing our local white/black students against state/nation? Making sure all students are ready to succeed after graduation?
Minimize how school success and “whiteness” are related.
In Charlottesville (& America), do SAT scores, college admissions, good grades, etc. follow the ability to act/appear/be “white”? Do some students of color experience the intimidation of entering a “white” space or the accusation of “acting white”?
Clarify who and what policies will guide our work on equity.
Is there a staff member who leads this work? Does the school division have an equity policy? Will a committee of staff, students, and/or community members be formed?
Create a culture of learning from mistakes.
In the same way that schools allow/encourage students to learn from mistakes, how can we cultivate a safe place for our staff/leaders to learn and change our schools? Blaming each other is not helpful.
What We've Heard: Statement Station #4
Continue and/or expand preschool.
Community members expressed their support for preschool but also noted that even the best preschool practices will not alone erase gaps.
Promote a range of post-graduation opportunities.
Four-year college is not the only model for success. Other options – trades, two-year college, military, etc. – are also valuable opportunities. Students should set their own course.
Support/retain effective teachers and principals.
They are the center of quality and innovation in our schools.
Set a timeline for reconsidering elementary zones.
The elementary zones are considered to be a first step to inequity. Continue the conversation about new facilities and enrollment so we can set a timeline for revisiting the school attendance zones.
Decide how we will measure equity.
Both standardized tests and more holistic measures have their value. And how do we support students of color and measure their growth without scrutinizing them or adding extra “pressure to succeed”?
Focus on systemic barriers.
Let’s identify and address practices that limit or make school harder for students of color. And let’s raise awareness of systemic racism (as opposed to individual acts of bigotry.)
Adopt or modify curriculum with an eye to equity.
Do the curriculum and instruction present or allow for multiple perspectives (particularly in areas such as social studies or English)? Let’s be aware of the messages we're sending.
View this moment as an opportunity to make progress.
These disparities have our attention -- let’s seize this moment and address these issues with our community good will, resources, and expertise. We can generate models that schools across the country can learn from.