The Committee for Equity and Excellence in Education (CEEE) thanks the District 200 Board of Education, this administration and our dedicated faculty and staff for what you are doing to realize racial equity in all aspects of our school community. Most importantly, to guarantee racial equity, this administration is developing a set of procedures and accountability to realize and protect equity goals today and in the future.

One of many parts of those procedures is a Racial Equity Impact Assessment evaluation tool — a set protocol to assure we actually act and evaluate what we do from an equity perspective. The community sees this procedure as vital to this school’s goal of equity for all, but especially for our students and families of color.

In fact, the administration’s reforms around recruitment, hiring and retention of more teachers of color has been guided by the key features of a racial equity lens evaluation.

The same is true for the evaluation of freshman courses that led to our teachers’ current development of the re-structured freshman curriculum. 

Our teachers and this administration have undertaken curriculum equity reform with passion, skill and dedication in preparing all dimensions necessary for success. 

In no way do we see the proposed one-year extension of the curriculum rollout as a diminishment of the district or teachers’ commitment to the curriculum equity goals central to the Strategic Plan adopted in 2017. It is a revision of the timeline, but not a suspension of ongoing developments in teacher learning, in the vital work of the Climate, Culture and Behavior Committee, in the adoption of restorative practices, in Collaborative Action Research for Equity, or in curriculum unit design for more equitable learning, and safe, supportive and inclusive classrooms.

In support of curriculum innovations both D200 and District 97 equity ally groups continue to educate the community to better understand and support freshman re-structured courses.

As we move forward, we urge the board and administration to consider the following actions:

1) Continue to compile, document and share our own D200 and outside professional research that supports our curriculum re-structuring.

Professor Emeritus Timothy Shanahan of UIC at a presentation in the community in December on best practice in reading, when questioned about freshman curriculum work, responded in support. In fact literacy research affirms the freshman re-structuring.

2) Evanston has pushed forward using its own research and extensive student and faculty feedback to revise and improve their efforts for racial equity in their earned honors credit system that is almost universal now in the school.

Consider the possibility of a network within a network, formal or informal, vis a vis the Minority Student Achievement Network. In addition, Evanston Township High School; Madison, Wisconsin high schools; and Cambridge Ridge and Latin School in Cambridge, Massachusetts are pursuing similar curriculum changes as OPRF High School. In California, Stanford University Graduate School works in a network around de-tracking for equity with Bay-area high schools.

3) While assuring professional teacher initiative, consider bringing a representative body of parents and community members more closely into the planning process for the re-structured freshman curriculum.

The administration’s fall presentations and the Access for All web page have been richly informative and helpful. Still, a regular opportunity for more information, input and dialogue can add to the process started with the Strategic Plan and carried forward over the last three years by the administration and faculty.

The extension of the roll-out date provides an opportunity to once again express your support for this monumental work so long in coming. We urge you to assure the community that this curriculum equity reform work remains vital to our school’s future.

John Duffy, Ed.D., is chairperson of the Committee for Equity and Excellence in Education.

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