In an effort to encourage equity in education, the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Board of Directors has designated the month of March as VSBA Equity in Education Month. As the month begins, the Equity in Action at APS webpage raises awareness of the equity initiatives currently underway and in development at APS to eliminate educational barriers and to better meet the needs of ALL students. Working toward creating equitable learning environments for students is a primary focus at APS, and while this equity work is underway, it is important to share updates with the community to show equity in action here at APS
Arlington Public Schools, in partnership with Arlington County and Challenging Racism, recently released the results of the Dialogues on Race & Equity Community Questionnaire to gauge the community’s perspective on race and equity in Arlington. The community questionnaire was part of Arlington County’s new Dialogues on Race & Equity (DRE) Initiative and broader commitment to improve racial equity in Arlington. The responses to the questionnaire will be incorporated into the Arlington County Strategic Plan and will be used by APS to determine how to improve racial equity in schools.
Regarding Arlington Public Schools, here are some of the high-level responses from the community questionnaire:
- Inequity in financial and human resources for programs, such as PTAs, wraparound student support services, and extracurricular activities.
- The process to participate in AP, IB, and Gifted programs lack transparency and diversity.
- A recurring response was most respondents reported evidence of experiencing racism from APS and Arlington County.
Additional information on the Perspectives on Race and Equity in Arlington Community Questionnaire is available by watching the video of the Arlington County Board Meeting or by viewing the PowerPoint presentation of the results.
The No Place for Hate® program is an organizing framework for K-12 schools committed to creating sustainable change that leads to improved school climate developed by the Education Department of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Participating schools are able to incorporate ADL’s anti-bias and anti-bullying resources with their existing programming to form one powerful message that all students have a place to belong.
Currently over 1,700 schools across the country participate in the No Place for Hate® Program. The goal of No Place for Hate® is to inspire a national movement led by students and educators who are committed to using the power of positive peer influence to build inclusive and safe schools in which all students can thrive.
The following schools are currently participating in the No Place for Hate® Program:
|APS Schools Participating in No Place for Hate®|
|Abingdon||Discovery||Montessori Public School of Arlington|
|Alice West Fleet||Dr. Charles R. Drew||New Directions|
|Arlington Career Center/ Arlington Tech||Key Immersion||Nottingham|
|Arlington Science Focus School||Glebe||Oakridge|
|Arlington Traditional School||H-B Woodlawn||Randolph|
|Carlin Springs||Long Branch||Washington-Liberty|
Arron Gregory Celebrates Black History Month video here.
For additional information, please visit ADL’s No Place for Hate® website.
Currently, over 1,800 APS students have benefitted from the Amazon Right Now Funds Program in collaboration with Communities in Schools. Amazon gave $1 million dollars in October to be shared between APS and Alexandria City Public Schools. Families are able to use these funds to purchase the essential items they need to support student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is managed by Communities in School (CIS) and CIS coordinators or school social workers are able to refer families to the program. Families receive codes to be redeemed on Amazon within a specific curated list of goods. Families receive a $100 promotional code to use on Amazon for each child in the family who is an APS student. Families are able to use the funds to purchase essential products such as clothing, school supplies, personal care items, cleaning supplies and food.
For additional information, please read the APS news release.
As part of its celebration of Black History Month in February, Amazon presented a $15,000 donation to support Wakefield High School. This is the latest in Amazon’s ongoing work to support education and racial equality initiatives in communities across the country where its employees live and work.
The donation to Wakefield High School of $15,000 will include the book Stamped: Racism, Anti-Racism, and You by Jason Reynolds – which focuses on anti-racism, cultural awareness and proficiency. The funds will also allow Wakefield staff to invite guest speakers to speak on the same topic.
For additional information on this and other Amazon Black History Month Initiatives, please visit the Amazon Community website.
APS Equity Policy
The School Board approved a new Equity policy (A-30) on Aug. 20, 2020 that includes governance in four key areas: Governance Equity Practices; Educational Equity Practices; Workforce Equity Practices; and Operational Equity Practices. The equity policy has been in development since the Fall of 2018 as a directive from the School Board and has been a collaborative effort that included input from many internal and external stakeholders.
The equity teams will review the equity policy to begin developing the Policy Implementation Procedures (PIPs) to support the policy. The PIPs will outline the procedures APS will implement to achieve equity across the school division. The plan is to have the PIPs tentatively finalized by the end of 2021.
Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Organizational Changes
- In August 2020, the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) joined the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Because of its focus on engaging all voices in our community and developing parent leadership in racially and culturally diverse settings, FACE naturally aligns with DEI’s inclusion practices and goals.
- The Office of Equity & Excellence (OEE) will be moved to the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). OEE is currently under the Department of Teaching & Learning (DTL). The office will be reorganized as a part of the division-wide reorganization changes to align the equity work with DEI and the school division’s strategic plan. This shift will further create a bridge between central office and building-level DEI support.
- The Title I Office will be moved to the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Title I is currently under the Department of Teaching & Learning (DTL) and is a perfect fit under the umbrella of Diversity Equity & Inclusion. Title I was developed “to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging state academic achievement standards and state academic assessments” (U.S. Department of Education).