Members of the “Coalition for Equity” reconvened on Nov. 30 to craft an ‘Equity Pledge’ for the district’s 11 schools
Washington Township Superintendent of Schools Joe Bollendorf and members of the district’s “Coalition for Equity” reconvened on Nov. 30 to review strides the district has made on issues of inclusion, equity, tolerance and cultural sensitivity and to begin crafting an “Equity Pledge” that will become a daily mantra in all of the district’s 11 schools.
“The most important influences on young people are the attitudes and behaviors of their peers,” Bollendorf said in addressing committee members who include administrators, staff, students, parents and community members. “The important work we are doing to improve the culture of our schools and community has to include students. They are the agents of change.”
To that end, Bollendorf shared several initiatives that are planned to begin the process. These include:
· A Dec. 6 administrative in-service with Rowan University professor Dr. Franklin CampbellJones, the co-author of “The Culturally Proficient School: An Implementation Guide for School Leaders.” This training will include frank dialogue about race, class and culture.
· A three-day peer-training program by the Anti-Defamation League with 26 selected WTHS sophomores and juniors. The interactive, hands-on program will include anti-bias training on formal strategies and informal interventions.
· The creation of an NAACP Youth Chapter at WTHS
· The distribution of a survey on equity in the schools
· A review of existing character education programs at all levels
· The creation of an Equity Pledge
· The creation of a district equity officer position
Bollendorf then invited the committee members to disperse into eight groups and work to create language for an Equity Pledge that students, teachers, administrators and parents will be asked to commit to. Once completed, each individual group shared their ideas, and a smaller group was formed to do the work of combining the sentiments and crafting an equity statement that will be universally accepted and implemented.