“Our schools are faced with growing child poverty, family instability, and diminishing social safety nets. In response, school districts have a moral obligation to ensure their policies and practices do not perpetuate these inequities” as noted by Dr. Roger Cleveland, national consultant on equity.
In 2018-2019, the Alief ISD School Board created their Core Beliefs and Commitments to fulfill this call to action. One of their first assumptions, “Our actions will be taken through the lens of equity” soon transformed into a district priority: “AISD will work to ensure all district policies and actions are taken through the lens of and based on the principles of equity.”
Dr. Darlene Breaux, School board vice-president and Chair of the Policy Committee, worked closely with Janine Hoke, Alief ISD’s Director of Professional Growth and Improvement, to guide this work. To bring this priority to life, the Alief ISD School Board, as representation of its diverse community, voluntarily and proactively completed a district equity assessment by an outside consultant to ensure an equity focused trajectory for the district. Based on the results, the district equity committee worked in tandem with the school board to ultimately create a district equity policy. This policy development and adoption took over a year with comprehensive protocols for defining equity, inclusion and diversity as well as rewriting the district’s core values, vision and mission to reflect the principles of equity and ensure a common language. On November 18, 2020 Alief ISD approved their first ever Racial and Social Justice Equity Policy with a 6-0 vote.
Prior to the equity policy adoption, Alief leaders began applying equity principles they learned from Dr. Roger Cleveland’s district equity presentation in August 2019. Leaders’ mindsets began revolving around the question, “What do our stakeholders need to thrive?” Then, the pandemic hit. Making equitable decisions stayed the course seamlessly as the same question was answered day after day for instruction to be effective and schools to be safe. Without hesitation, successful device and internet delivery ensued with technology support for those in need as well as offering parental choice in learning platforms. Professional learning was shifted to 100% virtual with prescriptive opportunities for staff and families to enhance remote learning. Alief ISD’s notable next steps include branding the core values, vision and mission in the school community and implementing strategies such as anti-bias training and restorative practices along with reducing suspensions in the name of equity – striving for the absence of disparities so all students can excel and succeed in a rigorous learning environment. To learn more about equity action, please contact janine.hoke@aliefisd.