January 24 Forum Acknowledgements
The Equity Initiative Parent Committee and the School District of Clayton extend our appreciation to the 17 community members who gave their time and courageously shared their personal experiences and perspectives. Panelists included parents, alumni, and educators whose experience in the District spanned the past three decades. The evening was masterfully moderated by Clayton High School history teacher Daniel Glossenger. It was a powerful evening of stories, reflections, and insights into how race and racial diversity impact our students, parents, and staff, differently and similarly, across generations.
Parent Panel Alumni Panel Educator Panel
Andy Crouppen Lynn Waldman Courter (2004) Carroll Lehnhoff-Bell
Bonnie Dee Sarah Murphy (2006) Carolyn Blair
Bruce Fleming Ken Price (1989) Napoleon Carter
Lisa Humphreys Marvin Rice (1992) Steve Hutson
Miranda Jones Maalik Shakoor (2014) Tarita Rhimes
We also would like to thank Camille Respess, Clayton graduate (class of 2017) and journalist, who was unable to attend the forum, and kindly recorded her perspective. View her video at https://bit.ly/2DKGrXL.
January 24 Forum Questions/Comments & Responses
Your Questions/Comments are in bold and our responses are in italics
“The two hours tonight were well spent. I felt what it was like to walk in another’s shoes. For good and not so good. These were courageous conversations.”
Thank you for being a part of the second night of this Brown v. Board of Education Community Conversations forum. Below are the Equity Parent Committee’s quick responses to your submitted Questions and Comments. Please keep the dialogue and energy building!
1) Please define what Clayton means by Diversity. Is it just racial?
The Forum discussions focus on African American enrollment in our schools as this demographic is declining. This impacts the District’s racial and broader diversity.
2) Enrollment v. Classroom Equity:
The Panel Discussions raised many issues related not just to enrollment (posse, critical mass, educational impact of diversity), but to equity within Clayton classrooms. Your comments caught this, with topics including:
· Access to honors/AP classes
· Feelings of welcome and confidence within our schools
· Elimination of tracking
· Developing more racially inclusive curriculum
· Family to family support (“break bread together”)
Please hold onto these insights for a later date. Support of our students, families and staff, once in District classrooms, is critical. This work, which continues under the District’s Equity Initiative, warrants separate and extended community conversation. This three-night forum is at look at African American student enrollment. The panels were included so that, in considering graphs and numbers, our work stays grounded in individual and community experience.
3) Comments on Clayton “culture”:
Panelists’ discussion of being outside the bubble/getting outside the bubble resonated with several of you, with this message coming back: Integration needs to be two-way.
Comments were received addressing students’ struggles, across race, in a culture some feel celebrates only its top performers. These comments capture both the similarities of our students’ experiences, yet how different the experiences can be depending on a student’s or school community’s racial lens.
4) The following recurring topics help move us to next Monday, February 11, to consider who we are as a District and discuss where we go from here.
· With school diversity, let’s also look at affordable housing in Clayton.
· Consider not just integrating people of different races in our schools, but “creating intentional spaces of sharing/collaboration.”
· How will we do it better than 30 years ago?
As one of our panelists said, how about always being better tomorrow than today? These three nights of information and conversation bring us together (once again), to help find shared understanding and direction.
The work under the District’s Equity Initiative is a District-wide effort in welcoming our children into our schools, and in improving equitable awareness and practices within our classrooms and into District and school structures. As mentioned by several panel teachers, this Initiative and the collective work it has enabled is powerful. And there is still much to do. Thanks for being a part of this.
Finally, your questions and comments will be shared with District Administration and the Equity Initiative Steering Committee. They will also be shared with the Clayton Board of Education to consider as it enters into District strategic planning.
We look forward to seeing you on February 11! And if you see our presenters and panelists, please don’t hesitate to let them know the impact of their words.