This year, all of Montpelier Public Schools are renewing our commitment toward equity. The Leadership Team is working with CQ Strategies in their "We All Belong" series. Rebecca Haslam from the Burlington School District and Seed the Way is working with our faculties to bring more awareness to the concrete ways we can make equity a reality for all students in our classrooms.
For me, equity is ensuring that every one of our students has what s/he needs to feel safe and included, so that s/he can learn to their potential. It is distinct from equality, in which every student gets the "same". The image below from Cultural Organizing is one of my favorites that demonstrates the difference:
I've been visiting Faculty Meetings at each of the schools and recently I was struck by the candor and frankness of a conversation. Part of creating a space for all students to feel safe and included, is ensuring there is room for adults to make mistakes, learn and grow. As part of this conversation, one of the teachers challenged the entire room to be sure that we are listening, both to each other as adults and more importantly, to our students.
Our students are speaking to us and they are speaking clearly. Some have told us they don't feel particularly welcome in school because of the color of their skin. Some have told us they don't feel particularly safe in school because of the gender they identify as. Some have told us they don't feel particularly included because of whom they love.
Our students are speaking to us and we are working by bringing equity to the forefront of our faculty meetings. What are the next steps we need to take to ensure that all of Montpelier Public Schools' students feel safe and included when they come to school?
We do not have all the answers yet. But we are listening.