By Susan Gonsalves, Contributing Writer
Westborough – The Westborough school community members want an anti-bias mindset to become second nature across the district.
The School Committee on Feb. 24 discussed development of a strategic plan addressing issues of equity, racism and cultural competency.
Superintendent Amber Bock described the work done to date, calling the plan “a living document,” adding, “Ideas will continue to flow into it as we work together.”
One priority is to expand the diversity of its workforce. Students should be able to see themselves in those that educate them, she said.
Racial breakdown provided
Assistant Superintendent Daniel Mayer gave a presentation outlining the racial breakdown of students and faculty in Westborough as well as the state as a whole.
In general, Mayer said, there is a “dearth of educators of color,” and many communities struggle to make sure they achieve significant representation.
Westborough’s student population includes 51.1 percent white; 35.2 percent Asian; 8.3 percent Hispanic; and 2.1 percent African American.
The corresponding breakdown for faculty/staff is as follows: 93 percent white; 3.39 percent Asian; 2.35 percent Hispanic; and 1.17 percent African American.
Mayer said that in an ideal world, the populations would match up. However, “There’s a significant difference from 10 years ago, but we’re not where we need to be,” he noted.
He pointed out that the gap at the state level is wider.
For example, 56 percent of the student population is white versus 88.94 of faculty.
In Massachusetts, 22 percent of students are Hispanic, while the faculty rate is 4.55 percent.
Also, the difference is 9.3 percent African American students versus 4.29 percent for educators.
Bock talked about forming partnerships with local colleges and universities and participating in job fairs to become more proactive about seeking employees of color.
Zero-tolerance policy supported
Student representative Kyla Kamugu noted that there should be a zero-tolerance policy and consequences for the micro and macro aggressions people of color experience. She said that in the future, if there is a director of diversity shared with the town, that individual should be a person of color so he/she can understand first-hand what students in those populations are facing.
School Committee member Raghu Nandan said there should be a clear outlet where students can go and feel comfortable talking about problems. He said that statements like, “This behavior won’t be tolerated,” must be followed up with action.
School Committee member Lisa Edinberg urged administrators to speed up the process, noting, “There’s a lot of work to do to get where we want to be.”
To see a recent discussion click here.
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