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Education

Proposed CMS Equity Policy Under Consideration By Full Board

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Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE

A proposed equity policy for CMS is now in the hands of the full board of education, after being passed unanimously by the board's policy committee Monday. Members spent more than a year developing the policy, which will guide school officials in closing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, and opportunity disparities between schools with predominantly low-and high-income enrollments.

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Credit Ruby Jones
Ruby Jones.

The goal is to ensure that all students have the same access to resources, quality teachers, courses, facilities, school leadership and emotional support. After the vote on Monday, WFAE's Gwendolyn Glenn sat down with Ruby Jones, who chairs the policy committee, to talk about what happens after the full board approves an equity policy.

Ruby Jones: After we have the policy, it is incumbent upon us as a board to monitor that. [We have to] hold accountable the superintendent for implementing it, whether it is something that has to occur over a period of time — such as our issue regarding media specialists in terms of schools not having media specialists and making some kind of decision on how to prioritize our dollars.

Gwendolyn Glenn: Now you guys have some ways to track this in terms of reports and in terms of measurements. Tell me a little about that. How will that part of it work?

[Related Content: CMS Equity Policy Moves To The Full Board For Consideration]

Jones: Through, at least minimally on an annual basis, reports on issues that I would deem as not being equitable. Looking into those situations and highlighting them and bringing that to the attention of the superintendent for reports that might be sooner than that annual requirement. It will be the responsibility of this board and boards thereafter to look at the policy and to make sure that we just haven't written policy and put it in our huge notebook of "policies" and leave it there.

Glenn: Now for parents who are wondering what kinds of things — give me some specifics that if they are listening to this, they can say “Oh they'll be measuring this, or they'll be measuring this" in terms of these annual reports that will be required.

Jones: Things like, do secondary schools have access to AP and IB. My past experience as a specialist for the academically gifted, as it was called at the time, and what I discovered immediately was that we had a low number of students engaged — of minority children — participating. It was an abysmally low number.

And in 1980, at least, to today, guess what? It has not improved significantly at all. So, right now we can have policy, But if the board and the community and persons who are really passionate about equity — if we don't stay on top of it, we can have the policy but it'll go nowhere.

Glenn: This has to go to the full board. You'll have public hearings and then vote on it. Realistically, your expectations once whatever you guys finally decide on — what do you see coming out of this?

Jones: I see coming out of it, vigilance from the school board and the community. And school boards change, but our community of involved parents, other stakeholders, the whole community will keep the awareness. That's why I've been so delighted to see community groups here at the meetings. I have never seen in all my years of experience this level of length of time spent, the intensity to making sure the language is right.

Now my thing is, are we doing the work of what the policy says? I dearly beg for the public to stay tuned.