social justice in olympia schools

Olympia School District improves racial equity engagement plan

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Olympia School District (OSD) board discussed current equity policy and racial equity training during its work session on Thursday, November 19, held online.

The focal point of the meeting was the Racial Equity Development and Engagement Plan which recognizes the district’s commitment to providing equitable opportunities and fostering equity engagement within the community.

Equity is often confused with the equality, the latter term meaning individuals are treated the same and given the same opportunities. Equity takes those opportunities a step further by acknowledging individual needs and circumstances and providing the proper supports to access those opportunities, therefore creating proportional representation.

“The Olympia School District recognizes that a commitment to equity is an ongoing, daily practice that must be implemented by all staff of the district. In partnership with the Puget Sound Educational Services District (PSESD), the district is developing plans to help provide support and education on equity for all staff addressing persistent educational and opportunity gaps faced by students based on race, ethnicity, gender, language, or disability. The district goal is to seek the cultural competency of teachers and staff, access to high-quality instruction, and access to culturally-relevant curriculum content,” according to the OSD’s Racial Equity Development and Engagement Plan.

Part of this commitment is providing ongoing equity education. Eileen Toshina, PSESD representative, addressed the district’s progress in educating the community by highlighting policy engagement strategies, continuous training, and equity development in the classroom.

The district has established an ad hoc Equity Team, comprised of some school board members, educators from the district, community members and consultants from PSESD.  They plan to meet in December and January; the board tossed around ideas for goals for these meetings.

One goal was to recognize the importance of maintaining cultural sensitivity when discussing the topic. Another, to embrace the expertise of educators of color, while recognizing the important role they play in students’ lives. Other ideas included a suggestion to reference the Equity Resolution put forth by educators of color in the North Thurston Public School District and to communicate with the public about current opportunity gaps.

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