The Schools Committee of the Community Coalition on Race applauds and supports the recommendations made by Dr. Fergus at the September 22nd Board of Education meeting.
This committee has advocated for math intervention, clear pathways to advanced courses, improved communications, and a culturally competent staff that is racially diverse for many years. The committee has also provided the district and the community with programs in support of our overall goal of an integrated school district, within both academic levels and schools.
To address critical issues like communications to students and parents about the pathways to advanced courses at the high school, we have offered parent advocacy forums and informational sessions like our Planning Ahead series of workshops for middle school parents.
Consistent with Dr. Fergus’s assessment that the process for accessing advanced courses is neither clear to students and parents nor flexible enough for students to adjust as they advance, we have advocated for clarity in district communications and for practices that support access to advanced coursework throughout a student’s career.
Also consistent with Dr. Fergus’s report, the Schools Committee has advocated for and (for a time) offered academic supports—especially in math during the transition from elementary to middle school. We have also provided anti-racist and cultural competency training to the district and have consistently advocated for ongoing professional development in this area.
On a separate note, we were disappointed that so few community members participated in the survey and focus groups. We also recognize the difficulty of gathering data during the pandemic, but are similarly disappointed that our schools could not provide more than 60% of the data requested by Dr. Fergus and his team.
We anticipate a robust response to this report from the school district—one that implements immediate and ongoing remedies to address the barriers to academic racial equity that have existed here for decades. The Schools Committee will continue to advocate for change that aligns with our goal and looks forward to working with Dr. Taylor and district administrators toward truly integrated schools and classrooms.
Carol Barry-Austin and Jocelyn Ryan
Co-chairs, Schools Committee