An equity council consisting of RISD employees, parents and community members is putting the final touches on an equity policy that will not only ensure existing and future curriculum is culturally sensitive but also guide the district in hiring culturally competent teachers, according to Angie Lee, RISD director of equity, diversity and inclusion.
"We are hoping [the policy] becomes the language of the district, that we are always running our policies, practices and procedures through the lens of the equity policy," Lee said during a March 25 presentation to the board of trustees.
The purpose of the policy, outlined in the draft, is to "eliminate any bias, prejudice or unlawful discrimination that may affect student achievement and learning experiences and to promote learning and working environments that welcome, respect and value equity, diversity and inclusion."
Lee reported the council is ready to meet with the RISD Teaching and Learning Services Department to introduce a recently developed curriculum auditing tool that will check for cultural responsiveness in current and future teaching materials. Lee said the goal is to have all teachers and staff members trained to use the tool in the upcoming school year.
The district is also preparing to launch its first black history course at Berkner High School in the 2019-20 school year and a Mexican American history course the following school year, Lee said. Two sections of the black history course are already fully registered, she reported.
The equity council held its first official meeting last September, Lee said. Over the course of several months, members analyzed equity policies from public school districts nationwide and pulled out pieces relevant to the district, Lee said.
The first draft of RISD's equity policy has been revised by a strategic action planning committee and is now under review by the National School Board Association. A final draft is expected to be adopted by trustees in June.