WASB Equity and Racial Justice Statements and Related Services
We affirm in our actions that each student can, will, and shall learn. We recognize that based on factors including, but not limited to, disability, race, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status, not all students receive equitable educational opportunities. Educational equity is the intentional allocation of resources, instruction, and opportunities to meet the specific identified needs of students and staff in the local school community. (June 2018)
“Equity Matters” was released at the National School Boards Association’s 2018 Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX and highlights the importance of equity in education.
WASB Expanded Equity and Racial Justice Statement (June 2020)
Public education, as the cornerstone of our democracy, must add its voice to the collective call for a more fair and just society and take a leadership role in finding solutions. But first, we must recognize our own shortcomings.
Wisconsin has a strong public education system, but for years we have known that our black, Latino, Native American and Southeast Asian students lag behind our white students by nearly every measure – test scores, access to advanced coursework, participation in extracurricular activities and graduation rates – while being over-identified in discipline and special education rates. It’s past time to step forward and ask ourselves hard questions on why the disparities persist.
Limited resources pose significant challenges in addressing these issues and major factors outside our control contribute to inequality, but school board members have an obligation to evaluate their policies, practices and budget decisions to promote equity and racial justice for all children.
In June 2018, the WASB Board of Directors approved the following equity statement: (see statement above).
That was the beginning. As an association, we used this statement as a springboard to provide professional development around the issues of equity and highlight thought-provoking stories and information in our publications. As your association, we pledge to do more. So, we created a task force of WASB directors to work specifically on these issues. We are committed to prioritizing discussions about racism and inequity in order to empower you to lead these conversations in your communities.
We know many in your districts are hurting and this work will not be easy. But we call on all school boards to determine how their policies and practices have a disproportionate impact on students of color.
As an association, we don’t have all the answers, but we want to do better and we want to help you listen, learn and lead in your communities. The WASB stands ready to assist you in facilitating local conversations and evaluating your policies and procedures to ensure they lead to fairness and justice for all. In the near future, we will share more details about how we intend to respond to these issues and how we can be of support to you as you do the most important work in educating all of Wisconsin’s public school children.
Board members should ask themselves the questions below.
WASB Equity and Racial Justice Questions for School Boards
- Does our board have an equity statement? Are there ways to make a commitment to equity clearer to those we serve?
- How are we ensuring that we assess every decision with an eye toward its impact on all students?
- How does our understanding of the district’s demographics impact our decision-making? • What process do we have in place to regularly review our policies to ensure there are no barriers to an equitable education for all students?
- How does our curriculum development process ensure culturally relevant learning experiences for our students?
- What process do we have in place to prioritize diversity and cultural competency in hiring?
- How have we directly addressed the implicit bias among all of us to ensure that it does not impact our expectations for students, our governance and leadership work, the quality of our teaching or how we manage our classrooms?
- How are we ensuring that our students of color are participating in the arts and extracurricular programs at the same level as our white students? How are we eliminating barriers that stand in their way? • What are we doing to remove restrictions on access to advanced coursework?
- How are we ensuring that our dress codes are sensitive to cultural differences?
- How are we addressing disproportionality in student discipline?
- What steps are we taking to ensure that our students interact with a full cross-section of our society and are prepared to respectfully interact with everyone they meet?
- How are we ensuring that the wide variety of voices in our communities are fully represented and heard?
- What are we doing to ensure that student voice is encouraged and used in our decision-making?
- How are we challenging the status quo to ensure equity for all students?
NSBA Reimagining School Board Leadership: Actions for Equity Guide
The Reimagining School Board Leadership: Actions for Equity guide is a collaboration between the National School Boards Association’s Dismantling Institutional Racism in Education initiative and Center for Safe Schools. It focuses on acknowledging and understanding current events and the historical issues of systemic racism in America. This resource establishes a drive for school boards to rise to these current challenges our school systems are facing to transform public education, with a focus on equitable access to a world-class education for every student.
Wisconsin school board members have long considered equity an important aspect of education policy. We have many resolutions dating back to the late 1970s proposed by member school boards and adopted by the annual Delegate Assembly. These resolutions have instructed our legislative advocacy efforts and continue to ensure equity is a key foundation for the WASB.
Legal and Human Resources Services
The WASB Legal Services Staff can assist our member districts in addressing educational equity for students. The Legal Services staff provides training on Title IX, sexual harassment, accommodating staff, students and citizens with disabilities, student discipline, and other staff and student non-discrimination issues. In addition, the Legal Services team is always available to address legal inquiries related to educational equity issues on a case by case basis. Please contact one of the WASB’s Staff Counsels to learn more.
For more than 40 years, the WASB Policy Services Staff have been highlighting ways in which school boards can adopt local policies that promote student achievement and address the educational and other needs of students from a variety of backgrounds in an equitable way. There are sample school district policies, WASB policy publications (Policy Perspectives and The FOCUS), and other resources such as the Policy Resource Guide to assist districts.
The WASB has always encouraged Wisconsin school boards to base their school district policies on local community needs, interests and requirements. Not every school or school district is the same or has the same problems, issues or needs. Local school board policies should reflect the needs of the district, and students within the schools of the district, and should be able to be implemented using the resources available in the district.
The WASB provides professional development training to help school board members be effective advocates for all public school children. In addition, the Wisconsin School News magazine features stories from Wisconsin school districts that are finding effective ways to meet the unique needs of their students.
Customized Leadership Consulting Services
The WASB provides comprehensive, customized training, support, resources and inspiration to school boards and superintendents to maximize their effectiveness in carrying out their respective leadership roles. Through its Governance and Organizational Consulting Services, the WASB can address a wide range of governance issues and/or help districts confront specific challenges and circumstances. From developing a vision and working on board-superintendent relations to developing a master plan, the WASB is here to help boards be as effective as possible in meeting the needs of all of their students.