Focus on Equity

Supporting Students Through Our Focus on Equity
Posted on 09/08/2021
Four students from different background in the school library

Clover Park School District is committed to creating and fostering learning environments that support student achievement and empowerment through equity, diversity and inclusion.   

Student Voice in Making Decisions 

Two years ago, Superintendent Ron Banner began hosting lunch listening sessions with students at each high school and the district’s Open Doors program. Students engaged with great enthusiasm to discuss challenges, successes and opportunities to improve the district. This year, the listening sessions have evolved.

In addition to hearing from students, Banner has asked students to provide their input in the form of the Superintendent’s Youth Advisory Coalition (SYAC). The group, which includes six students from each of the district’s high schools, meets once every other month to represent their student body in an advisory capacity to the superintendent.

The SYAC has already made a difference. Last spring, SYAC was invited to a countywide youth listening session with Pierce County Councilwoman Jani Hitchens, and students participated in an on-going conversation with leadership about last June’s graduation. 

CPSD student voice is enriching our classrooms, the district and the county. 

“We built trust with students in the first year when we met for lunch to hear from them in their schools. Now they’re collaborating with us to tackle emerging issues as they come up,” said Director of Equity and Community Engagement Grant Twyman. “It’s exciting to recognize and give space for the inherent wisdom, cultural wealth and powerful voices of our students.”

Saying YES to Equity

As part of the district’s ongoing work to create equitable and inclusive schools, students from each middle and high school participated in a series of workshops to elevate and empower diverse voices. Students networked across school campuses to build a community of support, belonging and affirmation. It is within the context of a healthy community that students are equipped to partner with the adults in their community to help foster equity. 

Some of the outcomes include: students forming new relationships across the district, students growing in empathy and cultural awareness, and students becoming equipped to build community.  

Including Equity to Enhance Curriculum 

In the district’s effort to elevate diverse voices and foster new partnership, we collaborated with students, parents, alumni and community members to engage in a conversation about K-12 social studies. Representatives of Lakewood’s African American, Asian, Latinx, Native Indigenous and Pacific Islander communities participated in a series of roundtable conversations to share their experience in K-12 social studies classes and provide input on our current curriculum. The district used this input to develop a high school ethnic and cultural studies course that will be implemented this fall. 

Equity Policy 

The school board has engaged in training on equity, diversity and inclusion for the last few years and initiated a process in January to create an equity policy to guide the school district’s efforts to ensure educational equity, access and outcomes for all CPSD students. 

The school board identified 10 essential elements to be a foundation for the policy: student success and achievement, transparent and honest language, instructional practices and teaching, professional development, diversifying the workforce, collective responsibility, collaboration to empower voices, reporting and accountability, and a glossary of terms.  

The school district implemented a thorough process to support the school board’s policy development by reviewing policies from across the state, as well as engaging 83 stakeholders from across the community. CPSD convened stakeholder groups with CPSD students, educators, staff and administration, families and community members to review the draft policy and gather input. An emphasis was placed on gathering input from historically underrepresented communities, such as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC). Individuals who participated in the input process and responded to the survey felt that the issues that impact marginalized people groups were identified, the first meeting was a start of true collaboration, and that their ideas were welcomed, valued and heard.    

The equity policy affirms that different students have different needs and works to ensure each person is valued, celebrated and supported. It is important to clarify that the district’s equity policy is not Critical Race Theory. Further, Critical Race Theory is not taught to CPSD students, and staff are not being trained in Critical Race Theory.  

The school district reviewed its equity policy with the school board and collected input during the process. The board will conduct its second reading of the equity policy at its Sept. 13 board meeting.