III. Equity At The Center
The vision for equity in the Somerville Public Schools is an educational environment where all students are affirmed and can thrive - academically, emotionally, and socially. We are committed to making this vision our reality as we enter the 2020-21 school year in all models of learning. In November 2019, the Somerville School Committee passed the Equity Policy which will continue to be our guiding lens. All students have the right to access an affirming, robust, and challenging education, be it remote or in-person.
Somerville Public Schools defines equity as providing the opportunities, support, environment, high expectations, and resources that every student needs to achieve educational success, to feel valued, and contribute to a thriving community. This is different than equality, which means providing each individual student with the exact same conditions or resources regardless of need. As such, in planning for reopening, the Somerville Public Schools will continue to keep equity and the needs of students at the center of our policies and practices. This includes prioritizing our students with special needs, English learners, and preK-2 students, along with students from groups disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and extended school closure.
In addition to the efforts made to support students’ access to technology, we will continue to advance equity in schools through the following ways:
Advancing Equity Task Force
The Advancing Equity Task Force consists of 19 SPS staff members from various roles who have worked throughout the summer creating plans to address equity and inequity in SPS’s policies and practices.
School-Based Equity Specialists
Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, each school will have a dedicated equity specialist who will work with the school Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) and School Site Council(SSC), Principal, Director for Equity and Excellence, and the school community to advance the anti-racism and equity work in each school community.
The district is developing professional development for staff at multiple levels to continue to engage in anti-racism work and further advance training priorities already in place. These will include sessions on identity, implicit-bias, deficit-based thinking, culturally relevant pedagogy, restorative justice, and abolitionist teaching. Training for students, families, and school and District leaders will also be a core focus of our anti-racism work throughout the year.
School Equity in Action Plans
Each school and department will continue the development and implementation of their Equity in Action Plan. We are working with school and department teams to clearly incorporate equity into their Action Plan, with explicit attention to remote and in-person learning.
We will continue the partnerships with New York City Leadership Academy, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, TNTP, Teen Empowerment, Facing History and Ourselves, and Teaching Tolerance. We look forward to our new partnerships with Dr. Daren Graves, Dr. Sarah Fiarman, SEED, YW, and UnboundEd to advance equity in our schools. This support will include professional development for educators and administrators, coaching for equity support, and support with school and department Equity in Action plans.