Eanes ISD reflects on a year of diversity, equity and inclusion work

Eanes ISD's diversity, equity and inclusion consultant presented the results of a district survey during a May 11 meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Eanes ISD's diversity, equity and inclusion consultant presented the results of a district survey during a May 11 meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Eanes ISD's diversity, equity and inclusion consultant presented the results of a district survey during a May 11 meeting. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mark Gooden, Eanes ISD’s diversity, equity and inclusion or DEI consultant, provided trustees with an update on the district’s DEI work during a May 11 board meeting.

Gooden, a professor and anti-racism educator, was brought on in July after students and community members raised concern regarding a lack of racial awareness on campus.

Gooden began by reviewing board meeting comments and collecting input from EISD community groups, parents and alumni. The conclusion was the district had a race issue that made students of color feel excluded or unwelcomed, according to Gooden.

During the May 11 meeting, Gooden presented the results of a climate survey for campus leaders and staff. The survey, which was developed by Gooden, was focused on the perceived issue of race and a suggested approach to address it.

A total of 47 campus leaders and 693 staff completed the anonymous 50-question survey, which asked participants to respond to statements on a “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree” scale.



A sample question includes, “Our curriculum has been examined to determine whether it perpetuates racial bias,” according to the presentation.

These statements were measured in four categories; achievement, general awareness, general action and personal awareness and action. Overall, the statements in the general action category ranked low, which assessed the degree to which EISD took action to address racial inequities.

Still, Gooden said these responses reflected the climate surrounding racial awareness prior to the full year of DEI work, which Gooden said has included many accomplishments.

EISD approved its first DEI advisory committee, for which it received over 200 applications, led student focus groups, created a DEI website, adjusted the student handbook and provided professional training.

Trustees also declared DEI as a district priority at its annual board summit. Gooden applauded this action.

“I think that we don’t talk enough about that but I believe that’s huge,” Gooden told trustees.

He also took the time to address the difference between DEI work and critical race theory—an examination of how the law intersects with issues of race. Gooden said CRT is not used or taught at EISD.

Several community members have spoken out against CRT in the classroom. Parent Jill Williamson submitted a comment during the May 11 meeting.

“We are fully aware that the DEI initiative is absolutely rooted in the theoretical approach to interpret happenings in society through the lens of race. This is also known as critical race theory,” Williamson said.

Gooden said DEI and CRT work are not synonymous, and EISD’s work was focused on developing racial awareness on campus in an effort to increase the sense of belonging in all students.

“This is not a slight of critical race theory. This is not some charge to say that it’s bad, but that’s just simply not what we’re doing,” Gooden said.

Moving forward, Gooden recommended that the district select an individual to continue DEI work, engage the broader community in the goal, align DEI goals with board and administrative policies, among other actions.

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

The Lighthouse Restaurant & Lounge offers a view of Lake Travis. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)
Landmark Briarcliff diner serves up diverse menu

The recently expanded deck at the Lighthouse offers an outdoor bar and performance stage.

Lingering symptoms, long-term impact of COVID-19 will take time to fully understand

Dr. Mary Katherine Theoktisto answers questions regarding the virus.

Salvation Pizza, opening in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport June 16, is one of several new pizza options in the Austin area. (Courtesy Salvation Pizza)
Pie chart: See a map of 11 new, coming-soon pizza options in the Austin area

New spots include Above Ground Pizza opening in New Bruanfels after several permitting delays and Salvation Pizza feeding travelers at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

Austin City Council members finalized their spending plan for the federal stimulus dollars before adjourning for their summer recess that will stretch to late July. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin will dedicate $100M in federal stimulus funds to combating homelessness over two years

In one of their last detailed discussions before their summer break, council members secured funding for several of their individual priorities alongside homelessness allocations.

Photo of Congress Street
The Moontower Comedy Festival will return in September

Headliners for the four-day festival include Margaret Cho, Dave Attell and others.

Here is your guide to spending the weekend in the Lake Travis-Westlake region. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
5 things to do this weekend in the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Live music, markets and more events are taking place in the Lake Travis-Westlake region this weekend.

The extension of Kenney Fort Boulevard is underway north of Hwy. 79. (Amy Bryant/Community Impact Newspaper)
North-south road in Round Rock makes progress; homestead exemption OK'd in Leander and more Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Candlewood Suites is located at 10811 Pecan Park Blvd., Bldg. 2, Austin. (Chris Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes for improved coordination with local counties on homeless issues; no action taken on Williamson County Candlewood Suites purchase before summer break

Council members unaimously approved a resolution aimed at improving collaboration on homeless strategy between Austin and local county officials June 10.

Photo of a drive-thru vaccine clinic
Travis County and partners to hold multiple vaccine clinics over the weekend, June 11-13

A drive-thru clinic at the Travis County Expo Center, along with several other neighborhood pop-ups, will offer the Pfizer vaccine this weekend.

Five Below is coming soon to Bee Cave. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Five Below to open Bee Cave location

Five Below is scheduled to open a new location in the Shops at the Galleria shopping center.

Central Austin home prices reached a median price of $675,000 in April. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
City Council votes to double Austin's homestead tax exemption

The exemption's increase from 10% to 20% of a homestead's value follows the passage of an additional exemption increase for senior and disabled Austinites last week.