Oak Park’s District 97 public elementary schools have worked hard to push equity and inclusion to the center of all choices being made by the district. And now, in a reconfiguration of administration resources, the district has created a new post — Senior Director of Equity — with a sole focus on making equity initiatives real.
We have a concern that in creating such a singular focus in one position, it might foster an equity silo where other key players in the district — principals, teachers, other administrators — feel less immediately responsible for this vital cause.
As described in a memo to the school board by Supt. Carol Kelley, though, the post will have a broad reach into an array of programs and planning, outreach and accountability. That the district is promoting a veteran administrator — Carrie Kamm, with experience in curriculum and instruction — is encouraging. Kamm has been involved over several years in crafting the equity goals and has a ready network of colleagues throughout the district to engage in the effort.
We have, over many years now, been actively critical of our public schools for talking a good game on academic and discipline gaps among racial groups in our schools but notoriously short on taking action, taking risks, forcing change to actually move the needle.
Hopefully this is a determined step ahead.