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November 2017 eSSeNTIAL INSIGHTS AND CommeNTArY For SCHooL SYSTem LeADerS Race & Education Equity integration and rigor in culturally diverse schools SPECIAL REPRINT Back Tracking on Your Reading Get Recent Back Issues of Catch up on any issues you may have missed of AASA s flagship publication School Administrator. To order a single issue or purchase a bulk quantity with a discount contact 703-875-0772 or magazine NOVEMBER 2016 DECEMBER 2016 JANUARY 2017 FEBRUARY 2017 Micro-Credentialing of Professional Growth PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember The Second Act of the Flipped Classrooms PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember Digital Badging PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember Unlocking Literacy PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember MARCH 2017 APRIL 2017 MAY 2017 JUNE 2017 Digital Curriculum PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember Smarter Thinking About Smartphones PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember STEAM on the Rise PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember Books That Resonate PRICE 9 member 10 nonmember 1615 Duke Street Alexandria VA 22314 703-875-0772 TO ORDER CALL NovEmbEr 2017 NUmbEr 10 voL. 74 2 Leadership Through an Equity Lens b Y m AT T U T T e r b A C K How his adopted brother s struggles prompted a superintendent to confront the power of white privilege and build an inclusive learning environment across his suburban Portland district. 4 An environment of care safety and respect 6 Wearing a lens for equitable decisions 7 Additional resources 8 Choosing Integration and Making It Last b Y A L L I S o N r o D A A N D PA U L L . T r A C T e N b e r G The Morris N.J. schools present a rare counter-story to segregated and unequal education -- one of the nation s most racially and socioeconomically diverse districts. 11 Morris superintendent Q&A Where we stand on integration 13 Additional resource 14 Recruiting Our Missing Students bY CHrIS beLCHer A superintendent details his mission to enroll underrepresented students in Advanced Placement classes. 16 Raising rigor in Glenbard Township 17 Underrepresented students have much to share 18 Additional resources 19 Equity Goals and Equity Visits b Y T H o m A S H AT C H A N D r A C H e L r o e G m A N Participants in a superintendent network jointly study each other s diverse schools in pursuit of high-leverage academic goals. 22 Combating Hatred Among Us bY TerrANCe L. FUrIN A racially charged exchange between two school leaders reveals the pressing need for sustained reflection on our core democratic values. 25 Additional resources 26 Becoming an Ally in the Battle for Social Justice bY veroNICA mcDermoTT What a former Long Island superintendent and author of a book on the subject has learned about white privilege as she promotes multicultural understanding. Leadership How an adopted brother s struggles prompted a superintendent to confront the power of white privilege and build an inclusive learning environment B Y M AT T U T T E R B A C K Equity Lens I grew up in a small town on the Oregon coast in a family of educators. My grandfather was a high school assistant principal and my father was a high school counselor. I was raised middle class with the privilege that comes with being male white and the son of well-educated parents. I knew the dominant community norms and used them to my advantage. Unlike many in our communities today college always was a likely option for me. When I was 9 my parents adopted a 7-year-old boy from a Korean orphanage. My brother Jon was one of the few people of color in our community. From my brother s perspective no one else looked like him or sounded like him and it was likely no one in our community had shared many of his experiences. Jon settled into our neighborhood elementary school and quickly learned English. However as my brother approached his early adolescent years his struggles began to emerge. He began making statements such as No one understands me and No one looks like me. These were the first signs we were losing him. These struggles of identity were quickly followed by behavioral issues and poor academic achievement. My parents sought professional help and tried different schools but nothing was successful. We continued to lose him. When my brother was 18 he asked my parents if he could return to Korea. However because Jon did not have a degree Through an 2 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 ILLUSTRATION BY WIESLAW ROSOCHA ILLUSTRATION SOURCE or any career training he was not welcomed back to his native country. Being rejected by both his native and adopted countries my brother asked to move to Hawaii where there was a larger Asian population. My brother made this move but the years of enduring significant marginalization and rejection in his young life had taken their toll and Jon completed suicide. We had lost him. Affirming Identity What I know today that I didn t know 30 20 or even 10 years ago is that while many would say they had the best intentions of supporting my brother the community the school system and I as his brother did a poor job of affirming his building an environment of Care Safety and respect Creating and maintaining a learning and work environment that holds at its center a sense of sincere caring safety and respect is critical to student success. It can be easy to become caught up in simply completing daily tasks. Building inclusive learning environments for each student requires leaders to act beyond mere task completion. Paul Gorski who directs EdChange a Virginia-based consulting firm that works to cultivate equity literacy in schools offers the following strategies to become a more equitable education leader k Pronounce every individual s full name correctly. No student or staff member should feel the need to shorten or change her or his name to make it easier for others to pronounce. k Explore how one s own identity impacts the way one sees and experiences different people. k Grow learn and change at the same rate the world is changing. By doing so leaders won t lose touch with the lives of students with whom they interact. Be open to learning from the experiences of others and being challenged by diverse perspectives. k Be open to critique. Be dedicated to listening actively and modeling a willingness to be changed by the presence of others to the same extent they are necessarily changed by you. k Center student voices interests and experiences into conversations and decision making. It is important for those of us working in K-12 education to take the time to reflect on our behavior as a means to ask why we do what we do. When educators undertake this reflection it allows us to examine the impact our actions have on others and has us consider if we are moving toward a stance of inclusion as opposed to inadvertently excluding others. -- MATT UTTERBACK identity and honoring his history and culture. Instead dominant systems worked tirelessly to get Jon to conform to the white-majority norms and customs. Clearly the result of these efforts was devastating. Twenty years after my brother s passing I began to unpack his struggles and his story. I viewed my brother s actions through the lens of my white identity. When I did this I was incapable of seeing the reality of his experiences as an outsider. While I had experienced the stark reality of my brother s passing on a personal level I had not recognized the impact of ignorance and racism on my brother s life. I learned my whiteness matters and I began to understand the power privilege and responsibility that comes from being a white male with rank. Stepping outside of my reality and expected norms wasn t easy or comfortable but it was essential. It was essential in my recognition that a person s life is meant to be lived authentically without having to wear masks or costumes hiding one s true self. Strength Assets Much of our success in our school district has been the result of our school system embracing equity and creating inclusive learning environments for each student. Equity is not about treating everyone the same. That is equality. Equity has us look at each student as an individual affirm his or her identity and build upon the strengths each student possesses. I don t think my brother s story is all that different from the stories of many individuals in our schools today. The harder we try to make students fit into the white-dominant community the harder they resist and ultimately suffer. When students parents and colleagues have to conform to majority standards and customs they are detrimentally impacted. Today despite the best of intentions we still lead school systems where a student s gender skin color home language and family income level continue to be the predictors of who does and does not graduate from our schools. Our school systems continue to perpetuate both opportunity and achievement gaps for many of our student groups. The Center for Educational Leadership out of the University of Washington believes the nexus for eliminating the achievement opportunity gap lies in the development 4 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 Matt Utterback superintendent of the North Clackamas School District joins in during recess at Milwaukie Elementary School in Milwaukie Ore. of leadership capacity -- specifically nurturing the will to act on behalf of the most underserved students while increasing leadership knowledge and skill to dramatically improve the quality of instruction. We are the leadership required to make a difference for our students. It rests on our shoulders and within our sphere of influence to eliminate the opportunity and achievement gaps that exist for so many of our students. We wrestle with the issues of privilege whitedominant culture and expectations in our school system. We ve found a strong interplay exists among instructional practices equity and leadership. At the intersection of these concepts lie six principles that we can follow that have a profound impact on our students -- especially our traditionally underserved populations. l No. 1 Our job as educational leaders is to improve our ability to notice acknowledge and promote the replication of strong instructional practices. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRIAN MCGREW NORTH CLACKAMAS SCHOOL DISTRICT MILWAUKIE ORE. Six Principles As educational leaders how do we cultivate equity in our schools and classrooms This is a question that deeply resonates with me because it presents a challenge for those of us charged with improving student achievement. It took me years to understand that in leading my North Clackamas colleagues my role was to help them recognize that privilege matters in questions of equitable access to education. This is about knowing what quality instruction is and what it is not. It is about learning and being an expert in the teaching and learning continuum that serves as the basis for teacher evaluation. We know students will miss out on powerful life opportunities if they are not successful learners. Research tells us the single biggest factor in student achievement is teacher quality. The second is educational leadership. Our primary job as school leaders must be the improvement of instruction. Many of the best instructional practices promoting equity are already occurring within our November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 5 classrooms. Modeling and replicating those practices is a critical component of professional learning. Leaders charged with the task of leading instructional improvement must know -- through an equity lens -- what effective and high-quality teaching looks like. l No. 2 We must identify and change our practices and beliefs so that each child knows she or he is expected to succeed. We must recognize that our students can t and won t rise if our expectations are low. We must hold firm to the belief that all students are expected to be able to realize their potential. This includes establishing high standards and making it clear to students what the criteria are for meeting them. We must avoid overpraising for mediocre work. Students perceive this as a sign of lower expectations and another reason not to trust feedback. We must normalize help-seeking behaviors -- especially for our boys. We must share with students our views that intelligence is malleable. When students learn this they demonstrate higher academic motivation behavior and achievement. l No. 3 We must learn who our students are and focus on where they want to go. An equity Lens for equitable Decisions Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin in his blog The Permanent Rules discusses the need for a new approach to decision making. He says taking the time to examine our previous decisions reminds us that rules are fluid. New situations present opportunities to effect positive change. The only way a school system can improve is when leaders decide that a permanent rule something that we would normally consider never changing has to change. And then it does. We need to recognize that our context is continually changing and that requires us to revisit the rules we have grown comfortable with and accustomed to maintaining. When as superintendents we make decisions and take action we should apply a series of equity-related questions k Does this decision align with our mission vision k Whom does this decision affect both positively and negatively k Does the decision being made ignore or worsen existing disparities or produce other unintended consequences k Are those being affected by the decision included in the process k What other possibilities are being explored k Is the decision outcome sustainable Education leaders must own this type of questioning and decision making if we are to become school systems where a student s gender skin color home language and family income level no longer predict who does and does not graduate from our schools. As education leaders we must be compelled to begin altering the rules that are having a detrimental impact on student performance and start building new rules policies and systems that benefit each student. -- MATT UTTERBACK Relationships are critical. We must learn about our students as individuals and embrace our role in helping them develop and discover their identity. We must convey a fundamental belief in each student that he or she can develop their intellect and their critical capacity to think. We do this when we build relationships with our students and recognize the racial cultural and economic differences that impact a growth mindset. We do this when we talk about race and the building of a student s racial identity. We must build in time to listen to our students -- to learn their hopes and fears. In North Clackamas we ve used student affinity groups to listen to our students stories and acknowledge their experiences. To assist our staff in being able to talk about race every staff member is expected to attend a two-day race-focused equity training. In addition our teachers have the opportunity to participate in a full-year instructional equity cadre. When we share in these types of experiences when we hear the voices of our students and staff we learn about each other and we are compelled to change our practices. l No. 4 We must embrace an equity commitment. As students enter our nation s classrooms each day they are doing so under a cloud of vulnerability fear and confusion. The daily hurtful rhetoric in our communities and across our nation has the potential of producing alarming levels of anxiety among children of color and inflaming gender racial religious and ethnic tensions in our classrooms. As educators we must be committed to protecting our students families and each other. This means interrupting when we hear or see offensive words and acts and communicating daily to each student that we will protect advo- 6 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 cate for and value them equally no matter their race gender gender identity religion sexual orientation language or ethnicity. When we take these actions we model for our students what we want to hear and see from them. One of the most powerful skills we can teach our students is to engage in respectful conversations. This is the foundation for civil discourse. When we allow our students to listen to one another and when we create space for multiple and diverse perspectives on various issues we develop competent and critical thinkers. Sharp Gains Building from these six principles has had a profound impact on student achievement in North Clackamas. Graduation rates are up 14 percent in the past five years nearly 90 percent of freshmen are on track to graduate at the end of their freshman year and our district boasts some of the highest attendance rates in Oregon. Taking these actions has a cumulative effect that creates a culture of success. When we repeat these actions it creates momentum. When we build momentum we Matt Utterback positively impact the trajectory for each of our students allowing them to reach their full potential. n MATT UTTERBACK is superintendent of the North l No. 5 We should use our leadership to create inclusive learning environments for each student. I am proud of our school board and proud to be the superintendent of a school district that is not only talking about equity but is bringing equitable practices into our operations our classrooms our resource allocations and the lives of our students. Our district took a stance and publicly committed to this important work through policy. We have an equity policy because like all school districts student success in North Clackamas is currently predetermined by race gender ethnicity culture poverty language and disability. We cannot accept this and that is why we commit to continuous improvement knowing that our work is never done. l No. 6 We should consider our ethical and moral obligation to take action. Clackamas School District in Milwaukie Ore. and the 2017 National Superintendent of the Year. E-mail utterback Twitter nc12super Additional resources Matt Utterback recommends the following informational resources that his district uses to move the equity work forward in the North Clackamas schools. BOOKS k Can We Talk About Race And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation by Beverly Daniel Tatum Beacon Press 2007 k Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond Corwin 2015 k Everyday Antiracism Getting Real About Race in School edited by Mica Pollock with multiple contributors The New Press 2008 k Leading for Instructional Improvement How Successful Leaders Develop Teaching and Learning Expertise by Stephen Fink and Anneke Markholt John Wiley & Sons 2011 k Multiplication is for White People Raising Expectations for Other People s Children by Lisa Delpit The New Press 2013 MISCELLANEOUS k AASA Equity Website Despite this obligation it s often easier to settle for a simpler quieter path. We must not give lip service to education equity only to accept the status quo. We say we want to be a school system that provides access and opportunity for each student but in the interim we keep using the same practices and systems we ve always used. This strategy isn t working for a significant number of our students. As educational leaders we need to take care of what is most important and not keep the same old routines. k National Equity Project Oakland Calif. http k Oregon Center for Educational Equity Portland www.edequity November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 7 Making It Last AND Morris School District in New Jersey offers a rare counter-story to segregated and unequal education B Y A L L I S O N R O D A A N D PA U L L . T R A C T E N B E R G Choosing Integration ore than 60 years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision condemned segregated schools most of the country s schools still labor under the vise of segregation. Indeed the situation seems to be worsening even in the South where Brown had its greatest impact. One of the latest examples of resegregation involves wealthy white communities seceding from larger more diverse school districts to create new segregated districts. Northern New Jersey however is home to a hopeful counter-story. It involves the creation and ongoing development of one of the nation s most racially and socioeconomically diverse districts -- the 5 200-student Morris School District. Some would say the merger between the Morristown and Morris Township school districts happened in the unlikeliest of times and places. The year was 1971 when the work of trying to implement Brown outside of the South was 8 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 ILLUSTRATION BY JENNIFER HEWITSON ILLUSTRATION SOURCE beginning to prove problematic. Suburban Morris County N.J. was a predominantly white upper-income and conservative area of the state. Nonetheless the state s education commissioner Carl Marburger a former school administrator in Detroit and a bona fide education progressive acted on a power just given him by the New Jersey Supreme Court to order the merger of two separate and unequal school districts. The purpose was to prevent de facto segregation caused by housing patterns and changing demographics and to ensure racial balance in the schools. The early years were not easy though. The New York Times reported in 1973 on the painful and agonizing process of the forced merger which the newspaper said had been plagued by controversies and numerous [law] suits. There was fierce opposition to the merger and predictions of massive white flight (which did not actually happen). November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 9 Allison Roda and Paul Tractenberg co-authored (with Ryan Coughlan) a study of desegregation practices in the Morris School District. How Ne What the news media failed to mention though was that the merger s proponents were a diverse group of individuals who proactively and heroically stopped segregation in its tracks because they believed in racial justice and opportunity for all. This original pro-merger group came to be supported over the 46-year history of the unified Morris district by key school leaders teachers school board members and a critical mass of the broader community. -- PAU L TRACTE NBERG ALLISO N ROD A AND RYAN DECEMB often competes with doing what s best for all children educated within the system. Morris is a place where school desegregation has made impressive strides at the school and district levels though the challenge of achieving true integration extending to courses and programs within each school remains. One theme helps to explain how the Morris district has flourished for so long while other district desegregation efforts have not -- namely the actions taken by school administrators to further the idea that a successfully integrated district needs a supportive community and culturally sustaining leadership in the schools. Substantial evidence emerged from our interviews that such conditions were essential to the Morris schools maintaining their diversity for as long as they have. We also found school leaders have had to walk a fine line between doing what is Remed ying S best for the general community and chool S egrega tion what is best for subgroups to keep them invested in the public schools. w Jerse y s Mor ris Scho ol Distr ict Chos ER 12 2016 e to M ake Di ve rsity W ork COUGH LAN The Cen tury Fou ndation Culturally Sustaining As our research on the long-term effects of the merger unfolded we kept asking ourselves What is it about the Morris district that has kept it together so long A former administrator we interviewed who was highly supportive of our project says he laughed when people said It is something in the water. His story reflects the kind of culturally sustaining leadership and community partnerships needed to attract and maintain a delicate balance of diversity in the schools. I would say 30 percent of my energy maybe more went into caring for the community said Thomas Ficarra who served as superintendent in Morris between 2002 and 2014. I get a kick out of [the fact] some people tend to think it was something in the water but I used to have three and sometimes four key communicators in my house where we would invite over 100 people to my house for dinner ... and answer those phone calls when they came in and build those relationships and feed and care for every segment of that community as best we could keeping an eye on the fact that at any moment in time it could all unravel. That was how I lived my life. The district s middle school had been the point of exit for many students and their families. Durcontinued on page 12 Impressive Strides The fact so many school districts nationwide as well as in New Jersey have turned their backs on school desegregation and integration efforts in the decades since Brown makes the Morris district stand out. In our three-year research project we have engaged in extensive legal and policy analysis 100 stakeholder interviews school observations and quantitative analysis and mapping. We got a close look at the role local district leadership -- superintendents and their board members -- have played in sustaining district commitment to racial ethnic and socioeconomic integration over the years and what the nation might learn from the Morris district experience. Local school administrators board members and community advocates are an especially fascinating group to study on many levels within this integrated but demographically changing community where the continued threat of white flight 10 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 morris Superintendent Where We Stand on Districtwide Integration Today n his third year as superintendent of the Morris School District in Morristown N.J. Mackey Pendergrast 52 says he is proud to be part of the district s unique history of effective integration and is committed to maintaining it in a world where demographic trends bring steep challenges. School Administrator talked with Pendergrast about the Morris district s success story which began with a stateordered merger in 1971 and has continued ever since. The district s history of integration is the basis of a recent report by the Center for Diversity and Equality in Education titled Remedying School Segregation How New Jersey s Morris School District Chose to Make Diversity Work. Freelance writer Paul Riede interviewed Pendergrast superintendent in Morris since 2014 with an abbreviated version edited for space and clarity below. (An expanded Q&A appears on the AASA website at http AASA Resources SAMag 2017 Nov17 Sidebar_Riede.aspx.) How has the school district been able to maintain such a high level of diversity when so many other districts have been unable to do so PENDERGRAST That s the 64 000 question. I think a critical element is we have a board of education that embraces these core values and has partnered with school administrators teachers and community leaders in making it happen in the most authentic way possible. .... This school district has had a highly engaged board committed to the highest-quality dialogue on this issue ... and it s had that for a very long time. From a strictly educational point of view why is diversity important PENDERGRAST Education is about preparation for life. ... For students who are living every single day in a diverse culture -- an environment where they are living these lessons instead of merely learning about them -- there is I intrinsic value in that experience. Today more than ever before we see that an understanding of different cultures is a critical component to being successful in life. ... Today it s critical that students are globally competent and it s difficult to say that we are adequately preparing students to have global competency if they do not understand other perspectives and cultures. Diversity in your student body has increased and that s required constant managing. Talk about the challenges you face with an increasing number of students coming in from troubled Central American countries. PENDERGRAST We don t want to use the word diversity unless we re using the word inclusion along with it. We want to make sure all students are included in all the different types of learning that take place in a school system. Certainly immigration poses unique challenges to school systems. Many of these students are really refugees. These are families and students who are coming from extraordinarily difficult circumstances and they have tremendous needs. Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast says refugees have added to the diversity of the Morris N.J. schools. We feel the goal is to have a healthy community. If you have a healthy community community members students parents and teachers are working hard to understand and partner with each other for the success of the child. The healthy community has to come first and then the other things are possible. The recent report on your district s unusual history says the Morris schools have remained largely under the national radar for decades. How do you feel about this attention PENDERGRAST It s been an opportunity for us to reassess our values and to reassess whether the people who started the Morris School District back in the 1970s would be proud of our actions today. Are we fulfilling the vision they had 45 years ago Would they be proud of where we are or would they want us to be further along PHOTO COURTESY OF MARY DONOHOE MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT MORRISTOWN N.J. November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 11 continued from page 10 ing Ficarra s tenure the white enrollment in the high school went from 50 percent to 62 percent. There was white flight and I m not tooting my own horn but I lived every day conscious that ... every decision that was made was made knowing that I had a diverse community and I couldn t swing radically left or radically right. I had to walk a fine line of how we promote the district and one of the things that I got a wonderful response about was we were one of the highest per-pupil costs around. I would stand up in front of the community when the budget came around and say our schools are a reflection of the community we have kids that want to go to Harvard and we have kids that come in here where their parents do not speak English and we have to provide a quality program for every one of them at every level and that costs more money than it does at the community next door and they would support that. When Ficarra s tenure was over he passed down a powerful tradition to the next superintendent namely the importance of collabora- tion and involving all stakeholders in the school decision-making process. He also set a clear precedent about the importance of community support for the work of the school district. A Stable Community The first thing Ficarra s successor as superintendent Mackey Pendergrast did was visit the NAACP the local churches and other community organizations to spread his message and vision of integration and inclusion and to hear what others had to say about the district s challenges notably the persistent achievement gaps by race and class. Pendergrast said he was attracted to the Morris superintendency by the fact a third of the students were economically disadvantaged. I don t want to go into a situation if I can t do anything about it so the community and the resources that are here and the intellectual commitment I discovered was here in the interview process I thought we could do something with this. ... How many public schools are actually overcoming poverty gaps How many Not many. Stability in the community was a key factor. When I interviewed the board of ed here was so impressive and dedicated to each of the kids added Pendergrast who has served as Morris superintendent since 2014. You ve got to have (support) from the board of ed all the way straight down through everybody everybody really rooting and trying hard. Leonard Posey (left) school board president in New Jersey s Morris School District and Superintendent Mackey Pendergrast (fifth from left) conducted a bus tour of the district for new teachers an annual practice to help with multicultural understanding. 12 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 PHOTO COURTESY OF MACKEY PENDERGRAST MORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT MORRISTOWN N.J. In addition to building community support for the schools work the district leadership in Morris also had the task of explaining that diversity in the student body means test scores are not comparable to the neighboring suburban system with a mostly white population. A current member of the school board Ann Rhines who previously taught in the district said many of the appealing programs such as the STEM Academy the Classics Academy various music ensembles the TV and radio broadcasting program and other enriching opportunities came about because of a concerted effort to reach every student. We aspire to succeed in fulfilling all student needs to motivate each and every student resulting in excitement about learning and to make each and every student feel that he or she is an integral member of the Morris School District community she said. Our problems come up when the scores come out Rhines added. We don t do what [the suburban district] does. We don t get the scores that they get because everybody s the same there. ... We try to provide programs so that all kids can have all that they need to reach their potential and ultimately be prepared for the future. This is a challenge in a district as diverse as the Morris School District but we feel up to that challenge. A dedicated stable community that believes in diversity sustains successful and durable integration which is something that attracts like-minded families to the community. Equally important is trusting and hoping the schools and community enable all children to reach their greatest potential even when average test scores are lower than they are in predominantly white upper-middle suburban districts. In fact we found the district s administrators have resisted testing metrics as the sole indicators of educational achievement. Instead they take a whole-child approach to educating students. it symbolizes the belief that we are all in this together. An important lesson to be learned from the Morris example is the need for more multiethnic schools to help combat racism ethnocentrism and intolerance particularly in this period of racial unrest and political divisiveness. Decades of social science literature suggest integrated school environments can close achievement and opportunity gaps in education students of color benefit substantially mostly in the early grades white students are not harmed academically and all students learn tolerance and intergroup understanding. In our dealings with the Morris district leadership we have urged them to do more to attend to social justice concerns. Education leaders should train staff members in racial and cultural literacies to work with diverse student populations to maximize their learning. An important lesson from the experiences in Morris is that you need culturally sustaining leadership and buy-in from the community to succeed. Certainly the structures need to be in place to maintain school diversity. Achieving racial balance however does not guarantee positive shortand long-term outcomes. You also need the hearts and minds of school staff and community members to support the hard work that integration requires for diversity to be addressed effectively. Morris has been and continues to be on the path to achieve both goals and become a positive model for other school districts committed to school diversity s many transformational benefits. n ALLISON RODA is an assistant professor of education at Molloy College in Rockville Centre N.Y. E-mail aroda Twitter akt1211. PAUL TRACTENBERG is professor of law emeritus at Rutgers University s S.I. Newhouse Center for Law and Justice in Newark N.J. They are co-authors of Remedying School Segregation upon which this article is based. What s been Learned Today 46 years later the history of the Morris School District merger is ironically either unknown to or taken for granted by many residents living in Morristown and surrounding communities. New residents are drawn to the community because of its diversity and cosmopolitan nature and current graduates value the experience they have had in attending a diverse public high school -- both attributable to the 1971 merger. Long-time residents who lived through the merger regard it as one of the most important things ever to happen to the community because Additional resource Copies of Remedying School Segregation How New Jersey s Morris School District Chose to Make Diversity Work produced by the Center for Diversity and Equity in Education in Newark N.J. are accessible at The report written by Paul Tractenberg Allison Roda and Ryan Coughlan and issued last December by the Century Foundation showcases a distinctive New Jersey school district that acted to prevent school inequities and took decisive legal action to make student diversity work in the public schools. November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 13 Missing Students BY CHRIS BELCHER Recruiting Our A superintendent details his mission to enroll underrepresented students in Advanced Placement classes W hen I arrived as superintendent for the Columbia Mo. Public Schools in 2009 I was glad to hear the district had what the school board considered a great Advanced Placement program. The two large high schools each with 2 000-plus students offered more than 20 AP courses and a remarkable 82 percent of participating students had passed their corresponding AP tests. During tours of the schools though I noticed a lack of diversity in AP classes especially compared to our student population which was 32 percent non-white. Upon further research I learned few low-income students participated in Advanced Placement courses. Because the rigor of a student s high school curriculum is a key factor both in college admissions and in completion of a college degree a truly great AP program would be one that maintained high achievement and ensured students of all race and income groups participate at the same rate as their peers. That s what I wanted for students. had dreams of college a decent-paying job that allowed them to support a family and a bright future but too many of these students were not getting access to the curriculum that best prepared them to enroll in and complete college. Statistics proved illuminating. Two compelling facts made clear the goal and the problem l College graduates earning power is at least twotimes greater than students with a high school diploma. It is a lifetime of difference. l Fully 99 percent of diverse high schools with established AP programs have course enrollments that seriously underrepresent students from lowincome families and students of color according to research by Equal Opportunity Schools and The Education Trust. I recognized our practices were limiting access to AP courses for some students based on adult beliefs and traditional institutional barriers. I deemed the situation required urgent attention. Thus began a journey to build commitment to equity and structures that identify recruit and support missing children those who were underrepresented in challenging classes. My audacious goals were to change the A Problematic Pattern The enrollment pattern greatly troubled and challenged me. I had to face the fact that many students of color or from low-income homes 14 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 sense of what s possible and break the cycle of low expectations of teachers students and parents. It involved reframing the struggle demystifying what great AP teaching looked like and developing a safe place for dissent and discussion upon the difficult topics of race and oppression. Fortunately we had excellent AP teachers. moving Into Action My district s leadership team met with the high school principals and agreed we needed to address the AP participation gap. Our first attempt involved a book study of Carol Dweck s Mindset The New Psychology of Success combined with some contracted equity training for the administrative team. We felt positive about our efforts but did not see substantial changes in access to or enrollment in AP courses the following school year. How many times have we as administrators grown frustrated talking about specific tasks and projects without seeing change for students -- especially our most underserved students I asked myself What would it mean if we committed to transforming access now for students who are chronically underrepresented in AP I knew I had to take a stronger stand when I learned other superintendents around the country had closed their AP participation gaps in a single year. Wenatchee Public Schools in Washington closed access gaps to their schools AP courses during a single year and saw an increase in pass rates. Similarly Corona-Norco Unified School District in Norco Calif. had created equal access to AP courses across their six high schools and maintained their passing rates. These cases suggested that Columbia s lowincome students and students of color who were missing from AP would be capable of the advanced work if we just gave them a fair shot. Could Jaime Escalante s idea that students will rise to the level of expectations stand up in contradiction to the pervasive sense in so many of our schools that black and brown students are -- by the time they get to high school -- less capable Chris Belcher former superintendent in Columbia Mo. with members of his student advisory council at Battle High School. PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE BAUMSTARK COLUMBIA PUBLIC SCHOOLS COLUMBIA MO. November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 15 of academic excellence I believed this to be true and set off to find resources to help address our equity access gap. The school district applied to partner with Equal Opportunity Schools a nonprofit firm in Seattle Wash. dedicated to ensuring all students have equal access to the most academically intense high school programs to tackle the participation gap. EOS had won a recent Google Global Impact Award to offer match-funded partnerships in new school districts. They are national experts in finding missing students and enabling leaders to achieve equitable access in advanced academic programs. We were selected as a match-funded raising rigor in a Suburban District avid F. Larson superintendent of the Glenbard Township High School District 87 in suburban Chicago offers suggestions for education leaders for pursuing equity in highlevel instruction. In his district 44 percent of all high school seniors will have taken at least one AP course by the time they graduate. Notably course participation disaggregated by subgroup shows the number of low-income Latino students doubled between 2015-16 and 2017-18 and tripled for low-income African American students during the same D time frame. Enrollment in AP classes by low-income white and Asian students in Glenbard Township almost doubled. These are Larson s seven ideas for closing the gap in AP course taking. k No. 1 Spend time with your principals and key teacher leaders at the outset to discuss your beliefs about which students can take AP courses. All of our schools have an unwritten understanding of which students are good candidates for AP courses and some of these preconceptions need to be eliminated at the start. k No. 2 Communicate a clear implementation timeline at the outset. The Equal Opportunity Schools toolkit works but it can be very disruptive if staff do not feel like they know when each step in the work is scheduled to take place. k No. 3 Be wary of suggestions to remove entire categories of students from your outreach lists (English language learners students with disabilities students with disciplinary records students falling below a high GPA cutoff). If you do this you will miss students with the assets to succeed. k No. 4 Train your trusted adults -- those with charisma who have the closest relationships with students -- before dispatching them to engage students in recruitment conversations. These teachers and counselors are your biggest lever in showing students they have the capacity to succeed. It is important these conversations be well planned so they are welcoming and encouraging interaction. k No. 5 Do not be surprised when students with the assets to succeed are initially reticent to commit. Politely refuse to accept their first no -- just like the basketball coach recruiting the tall freshman unsure about playing. Schedule a second round of outreach and recruitment as you begin the first round under the assumption some students will need multiple contacts before they commit. k No. 6 Provide targeted professional development to support the shift in mindset you are asking teachers to make. k No. 7 After you launch your supports don t just let them run. Instead scrutinize systematize and normalize them so they are effective. -- CHRIS BELCHER Students in the Advanced Placement environmental science course at Glenbard North High School in Carol Stream Ill. with teacher Deborah Karavites-Uhl (center). 16 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 PHOTO COURTESY OF PEG MANNION GLENBARD TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 87 GLEN ELLYN ILL. partner district and developed an action plan for the next school year. Nearly Derailed The work was rife with challenges. Some teachers and other staff felt we were moving too fast and that some students we had identified as capable of taking an AP class would fail or were not ready for the rigor of the various AP courses. Others suggested we would be lowering the pace and intensity of the AP courses. There was even concern expressed about harming a student s GPA and college scholarship opportunities. Furthermore I was hearing that a lot of the missing students we had identified (through detailed surveys academic record analysis and teacher recommendations) did not want to sign up for AP. This almost derailed the infrastructure work my team implemented as outlined in our action plan. At this point I wondered if the students felt unwelcomed and afraid. I also wondered how the adults were interacting with the students during the recruitment discussions. Frustration was setting in. I met alone with our designated partnership director from Equal Opportunity Schools and she shared this was a common barrier that other schools experienced. She suggested we pivot the message slightly and involve other trusted adults in the school to engage with the students. I sent a district staff member who had a trusted working relationship with underrepresented students to re-engage with those who had declined to enroll in AP. The staff member succeeded in getting 90 percent of the students who had previously declined to say they would enroll in an AP class. It was about coming back to students bringing new messaging and ideas inspiring them to step up and challenge themselves while we showed belief in their abilities. Through this re-engagement we learned some students were anxious and felt they did not belong in AP courses. Others just needed additional encouragement and deeper discussions before they felt comfortable enough to enroll. During the partnership we found that 90 percent of our students -- of every race and income group -- wanted to go to college. We found many did not achieve their goal of graduating college within six years of high school completion because low-income students and students of color were seldom challenged by rigor in their classes. In fact nationally only a paltry 15 percent of the low-income students and students of color who are not in AP classes report being challenged by their high school classes. once Discovered Underrepresented Students Have much to Share In the Equal Opportunity Schools program to close the equity gap in advanced course taking in high school students are surveyed about their experiences. The comments below by students of color and low-income students address their experiences in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. k A HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN EVERETT WASH. I think AP classes are such a great experience ... [Y]ou learn to use your time wisely you learn ... self-discipline and most of all you learn to push yourself to your limits and actually learn your limits. k A SENIOR AT GLENBARD SOUTH HIGH SCHOOL IN GLENBARD TOWNSHIP ILL. ... Upperclassmen ... said there was loads of homework and it was impossible to get a grade above a B. These descriptions and their attitudes toward the class intimidated me. Once I began taking the class I was overwhelmed ... but soon I began managing my time so that I got the homework or projects done on time. k A STUDENT AT CAPITOL HILL HIGH SCHOOL IN OKLAHOMA CITY OKLA. Before I started AP I never imagined myself being in an AP class. I worried about not being smart enough to be in an AP class. ... After I got comfortable with being in the class and talking to the other students I realized that most of them are experiencing the same thing as I am. -- CHRIS BELCHER We spend so much time talking about what students -- especially underserved students -- could not do and far too little time creating the opportunities for them to prove us wrong. breakthrough moment My partnership director with Equal Opportunity Schools discussed the breakthrough that can occur when student diversity is reflected at the highest levels of K-12 schooling. At a summer conference students of color and those from low-income families shared stinging comments and a sense of self-doubt about whether they belonged in AP based on negative feedback from staff and the unwelcoming culture of an all-white AP classroom. A student vividly recalled that a counselor believed they might not be able to handle AP. Another student told how uncomfortable it felt to walk into an AP classroom and find no one looked like them Classmates and the teachers acted as if they were in the wrong place. I have seen so much data through current literature and news coverage training sessions and peer discussions that I knew more than enough November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 17 to believe in missing students ing early success. Additionally ability to succeed -- if we as none of the recruited students educators eliminated barriwere allowed to drop the AP ers and provided systematic class without meeting with encouragement. the principal to talk through Ultimately following some their struggles. The principal conflict we closed the racial sought to remedy the conaccess gaps to AP courses in a cern provided motivation and single year. We had to allay the encouragement and reinforced concerns of those AP teachers the value of taking rigorous who feared the pass rate would coursework. drop and some counselors who Several AP teachers who had questioned the readiness of been vocally opposed to this students for the rigorous AP strategy stopped by my office curriculum. We also knew some once the test results were posted recruited students were worried and thanked me for pushing about the impact on their GPA. this initiative forward chalChris Belcher As a result we added manlenging their mindset. They datory ongoing academic support. Overall we described how their perception of high expectahad an increase of 238 low-income students and tions for students had changed. students of color enroll in AP quadrupling the Personal meaning number of low-income African-Americans in the It would be hard to overstate what this work courses. meant. Personally it was one of the most meanIn the end the teachers gave strong support to ingful academic experiences of my career. the first-time AP students and the students perI ve continued this work over the past three formed comparably to their peers. One principal years as the superintendent-in-residence for said In the end it was mostly about changing Equal Opportunity Schools the same organizaadult mindsets. I felt confident once students tion that opened my eyes to the impact of fullovercame their own doubts and the teachers gap closure in classroom equity on students and showed an unwavering belief in them the ultiadministrators. I appreciate now more than ever mate result would be transformational. I was not the challenge of achieving equity at the highest disappointed. When we challenged students at levels. EOS and The Education Trust have discovthe highest level and supported them with great ered 640 000 missing students each year in our teaching they met our expectations. country stuck literally across the high school hallThe prior year s passage rate -- defined as way from the education they need and deserve. scoring a three or higher on the AP exam at I have observed an incredible commitment to course end -- of 82 percent remained statistically equity in colleagues nationwide. School district unchanged despite the wider enrollment. and state education leaders have found nearly Academic intervention time was provided for 50 000 missing students and advocated for those all students with recruited AP students being students until they had access to their schools assigned intervention time with an AP teacher. most rigorous courses. In 75 percent of schools Organizational and study skills strategies and the success rate on the college-level AP tests has connection with an adult mentor were used to remained stable or increased -- showing that this assist the student in achieving and maintainwork is not about solving an achievement gap that lives in our students. It s about our leadership and willingness to close the opportunity gap -- a gap as close as the nearest high school and only as Equal Opportunity Schools is a nonprofit organization based in wide as its hallway. Seattle Wash. that works with schools districts and states to close Education leaders can make this choice at any enrollment gaps among students in their Advanced Placement and time. But for our current 11th-grade students any International Baccalaureate programs. The organization works with later than this year would be too late. n education leaders to locate their missing students so that AP and Additional resources IB programs fully reflect the student body in those schools. EOS has worked with 450 individual schools 152 school districts in 27 states. Further details are at http CHRIS BELCHER is assistant teaching professor at the University of Missouri and superintendent in residence for Equal Opportunity School in Seattle Wash. E-mail Belcherd Twitter ChrisBelcher13 18 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 Equity Goals and Equity Visits Leaders in a superintendent network jointly study each other s diverse schools to pursue high-leverage academic goals B Y T H O M A S H AT C H A N D R A C H E L R O E G M A N W hat does leadership for equity and instruction look like The New Jersey Network of Superintendents launched in 2008 and supported by the Panasonic Foundation has explored this question in monthly meetings for the past nine years. Those meetings have focused explicitly on developing superintendents capabilities as leaders of instruction and equity. At first the meetings centered on instructional rounds in participating districts with the expectation that those classroom observations would surface issues of equity. But it was often difficult to compare the learning experiences of students from different backgrounds and in different levels or tracks and the professionals conversations shied away from the sensitive topics and potential conflicts that discussions of equity and race often involve. Those experiences made it clear that a focus on instruction had to be accompanied by an explicit focus on equity. As a result the monthly meetings now include work on spe- cific high-leverage equity goals in each school district an adaptation of instructional rounds called equity visits and attention to the specific needs and opportunities of diverse and rapidly changing populations in each district. l provide opportunities for visible and measurable improvements in relatively short periods of time and l establish a foundation for further systemic improvements across a district. For instance the leaders of the Freehold Regional High School District in Monmouth County N.J. created the Freehold Regional Opportunity Index which shows the extent to which students from different backgrounds are underrepresented or overrepresented in particular categories such as enrollment in AP classes and in specialized magnet programs. When the index highlighted the fact that special education students socioeconomically disadvantaged students and African-American and Hispanic students often decelerated in mathematics classes moving from higher-level courses in 9th grade to lower-level courses in 10th and 11th grades the district made it a highleverage equity goal to reverse this deceleration and increase access to higher-level math classes. High-Leverage Goals The basic structure and organization of schools in the United States limit rigorous learning opportunities for many students particularly students of color and students living in poverty. But reducing the disproportionate number of African-American and Hispanic students who are suspended or placed in special education and increasing the numbers of these students who are in higher-level classes are examples of the high-leverage equity goals that school district leaders can pursue. The New Jersey network defines high-leverage equity goals as goals that l focus explicitly on the achievement of high-level learning outcomes for all students November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 19 The Freehold leadership recognized what concrete steps they could take to produce relatively quick results including eliminating the lowest-level math classes and increasing the amount of math support for the lowest-performing students in 9th grade. These initial steps helped guide them as they expanded this approach to science and other subjects. In Passaic N.J. a largely Hispanic low-income district district administrators focused on a different but common problem Graduates who enrolled in postsecondary education were required to take remedial courses which increased the cost and time of attaining a two-year or fouryear degree and raised the likelihood of them dropping out of college. In response the district established a high-leverage equity goal of ensuring all students have the chance to graduate with at least 15 college credits and or a career certification. The Passaic leaders identified specific steps to generate an immediate return. Those steps focused on the College Board s Accuplacer test which many higher education institutions use to determine which students need remedial education. When students go to a university or community college however many have never heard of the Accuplacer. They have no idea about the content and they have no preparation to take it Passaic s assistant superintendent Rachel Goldberg says so what we re doing is trying to change that game by viewing the Accuplacer as a key gateway to college. In 2015-16 the district began administering the Accuplacer to all high school juniors and seniors. The initiative enabled the district to do two things l identify students who are already eligible to enroll in courses that offer college credit which provides the quick win that can build momentum for further gains and l design after-school and summer school programs for students identified as needing extra support. Passaic also is expanding opportunities for SAT preparation and Advanced Placement courses so all students are better prepared to apply to college and complete a four-year college track. Quality for All In addition to access to higher-level coursework all students need access to powerful instruction to succeed. To help the superintendents and their districts sharpen their focus on both instruction and equity the New Jersey network members engage in equity visits every other month during the academic year in which they may visit a participating superintendent s district. The superintendents daylong visits feature small-group classroom observations as they did in the past. However observers now also consider disaggregated data on student performance data on suspensions assignment to special education student access to higher-level courses and other indicators related to equity. Observations often are accompanied by activities such as interviews with students and teachers and discussions of student work. These make it easier to identify discrepancies and inequities in instruction. The network members also use routines and protocols such as consultancies and fishbowls to surface areas of conflict ambiguity and superficial understanding in their own discussions. The discussions involving network participants provide the host school district with key issues to pursue in developing their next levels of work on equity and instruction. At the same time the visiting superintendents gain new ideas and formulate new questions to ask in their own districts that can advance their work. Diversity in Diversity The districts involved in the network share common problems such as how to increase student access to higherlevel learning opportunities. Yet differences in the specific racial cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds of the students and families in each school district create quite different conditions for each district s work on equity. In one suburban district fewer The New Jersey Network of Superintendents meets at the Panasonic Foundation headquarters in Newark N.J. to share observations of daylong site visits. 20 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 PHOTO COURTESY OF SCOTT THOMPSON PANASONIC FOUNDATION NEWARK N.J. than 2 percent of the residents in 1970 were African American. By 2000 the African-American population comprised more than 30 percent as middle- and upper-income AfricanAmerican families moved into the district. Now the percentage of African-American families is decreasing as more Hispanic and Asian families move into the area. In another high-income district the increasing numbers of families moving to the U.S. from East Asia has fueled a substantial population increase as well as a much more diverse population. By 2011-12 the student population in the senior class was 60 percent white and the kindergarten class was 60 percent Asian and by 2013-14 the population of Asian students in the district as a whole had grown to about 60 percent. A middle-income district that had a largely white population before 2000 has grown much more diverse as families have arrived from India China and Mexico. From the perspective of the administrators in that district the change happened almost overnight. The transformation has continued such that all the schools in the district now have almost equal percentages of white African-American Asian and Hispanic students. Within these districts gaps in learning opportunities and performance have emerged between white and African-American students from families with relatively high incomes between high-performing Asian students and high-performing white African-American and Hispanic students and between immigrant students from East Asia and immigrant students from Mexico. In short the diversity of the population and the speed of population change in each district contribute to unique conditions that education leaders must learn to navigate. That navigation has to take into account the racial and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community the specific character of the equity issues that are emerging the extent to which Superintendent Jared Rumage (right) and Vice Principal Julius Clark of Red Bank Borough N.J. Public Schools participate in a discussion hosted by the New Jersey Network of Superintendents. those issues are recognized by the community and the extent to which those issues already are being examined in opposing or collaborative ways. The network meetings create opportunities for superintendents to describe and compare their work on equity reflecting particularly on how to adapt to the needs of their communities. are doing. What have I done since the last meeting to further the work another says. That s where the guilt emerges but it does give hope. In the end the work of the network members demonstrates the essential contributions that individual education leaders make to the fight for equity in their school communities. At the same time the experiences of the network members demonstrate that issues of equity are not just local issues equity issues cut across all communities. Progress demands collective leadership that brings together those inside and outside schools in a common commitment to address the social cultural economic and political issues that transcend district boundaries. n THOMAS HATCH is a professor at Teachers Pressure and Support Education leaders should not be left to work on issues of equity on their own. They can benefit from support and engagement in collegial groups such as the New Jersey Network of Superintendents. By working together leaders gain access to relevant information resources and expertise and to the intellectual emotional and moral support that can help sustain a focus on fundamental questions of equity and instruction. As one superintendent declared the network provides both pressure and support by inspiring the members to focus on equity and by expecting them to report back on what they College Columbia University and co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education Schools and Teaching. E-mail hatch Twitter tch960. RACHEL ROEGMAN is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 21 Hatred Among Us The pressing need today for sustained reflection by educators on our core values as a democratic society BY TERRANCE L. FURIN Combating T he headlines in a local newspaper screamed the news that a racially and ethnically diverse school district of 7 000 students was in crisis after racially charged text messages between the superintendent and the district s athletic director had surfaced. The revelation in fall 2013 shook the Pennsylvania school district and its community to the core and aftershocks continue to this day. It involved a highly regarded educator who had led the district s varsity football team to fame prior to becoming high school principal and then superintendent. This is a limited sampling of the text messages (note the n word was spelled out in the original texts) traded between the two Athletic Director (AD) to Superintendent (Supt) All should just have whatever first names they want ... then last name is N----R Leroy N----r Preacher N----r Night train n----r Clarence n----r Latoya n----r Thelma n----r and so on. Supt to AD Great idea Joe n----r bill n----r snake n----r got a nice ring to it. AD to Supt LMAO (Laugh my ass off) Supt to AD hahahah ... could have whole homerooms of N----r hahahahahahahaha Will N----r report to office pardon the interruption but will N----r report to nurses office. N----r to lunch now Supt to AD (referring to pending teacher layoffs) 23 get clipped Tuesday ... AD to Supt How many n----rs out of 23 Not enough Supt to AD Don t know but think it s only 4-5. AD to Supt Good hangings there The ongoing exchange contained sexually explicit remarks regarding interracial sex acts as well as offensive racial ethnic and sexual comments against blacks Jews Arabs and women and continued over several days. The texts were especially remarkable because of the school district s diverse student body which is approximately 49 percent white 36 percent black 12 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. 22 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 Continuing Fallout The school district s technology director (a LebaneseAmerican referred to in one of the texts as a camel jockey ) uncovered the texts as he was erasing data from the athletic director s district-issued cell phone. He reported the content of the text messages to a district administrator who in turn shared them with a school board member. When members of the school board met with the superintendent he admitted to sending and receiving the texts and subsequently informed the board he was retiring. The athletic director followed suit. When local news media acted on tips regarding the text messages and the administrators resignations community members made it clear through multiple public marches and raucous school board meetings that they wanted the men fired outright. Ultimately the board accepted the resignations citing potential legal problems if the men were fired. This action enabled the two to keep their state pensions which infuriated the community. The entire matter resulted in board members resignations and a new board being seated after the next election. Fallout from the incident continues and the district s reputation has suffered. The text messages were used as the basis for an employment discrimination lawsuit by a former district employee. The superintendent was charged with several offenses including theft for using district funds to pay for championship rings for the football team with the matter expected to go to trial this fall. ILLUSGTRATION BY ID WORK ISTOCK varying reactions Reactions from educators to the text messages have been varied as was evident when I led roundtable sessions at a statewide conference of superintendents in April 2016 and at AASA s 2017 National Conference on Education. November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 23 Terry Furin (center) draws on his superintendent experiences as a professor of education at St. Joseph s University in Philadelphia Pa. where he focuses on multicultural learning issues. Most superintendents interviewed at these two forums expressed shock or disbelief at the hateful messages. Others however indicated the texts should be viewed as little more than casual locker-room banter. One superintendent contended that had the administrators used their private phones rather than district-issued cell phones the appropriateness of the messages would not have been questioned. A participant who teaches prospective superintendents at a university located near the Pennsylvania district said a distinction should be made between a person s personality (surface persona) and character (internally held core beliefs). Another superintendent commented that if personality and character are not in sync the outer fa ade will eventually disappear and reveal the true internal self which can lead to a person s moral collapse that jeopardizes the integrity of the district s professed values. In this case the district s mission statement specified it was a learning community rich in diversity and committed to excellence by providing rigorous educational opportunities ... [for] lifelong learners in a global society. The parent student handbook included a civil rights statement that read in part that the district is an equal opportunity education institution and will not discriminate on the basis of age race color [or] national origin. The racist texts revealed the superintendent s internal core beliefs lacked integrity and did not ring true with the professed district values. Hundreds of angry protesters recognized this and were outraged at his deceit. When superintendents at the roundtable sessions were asked whether they thought the core values exposed in the racist texts were uncommon most said they were aware of other school leaders holding similar views. Communal values If the views of the Pennsylvania superintendent and athletic director are not unusual how do district leaders counter such attitudes School system leaders must become transformational leaders to achieve greater cultural competence for the entire district. To build dialogue on communal values a superintendent from the Midwest shared his success using BaF BaF a training simulation designed to increase cultural awareness by helping people understand the impact of culture on the behavior of individuals and organizations and recognize the value of diversity. 24 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 PHOTO COURTESY OF TERRY FURIN This district s administrators and some faculty members completed substantive BaF BaF training. The program is expanding throughout the learning community to continue building positive communal values. This account brought back memories of my own superintendency in the early 1990s. In my first month on the job I faced angry parents students and residents who were infuriated over an ACLU-led injunction against Christian prayer at commencement. The valedictorian was a young Jewish woman whose family initiated the injunction. The fury intensified after I led the school board in instituting a policy against prayer at all school events. I was called the anti-Christ and was stalked. I had my trash stolen and received numerous threats. It did not subside until I opened an FBI file held extensive meetings with community groups began writing a column on tolerance for the local newspaper and eventually brought together a school board badly split when half were defeated in the next election by a coalition led by a national right-wing organization. This crisis over school prayer led to teacher inservice programs on human rights and a revamping of the curriculum to emphasize communal values. During my 11 years as superintendent there were many other human rights issues. For these we were better prepared. One was the threat of neo-Nazis who wanted a school boycott on Heinrich Himmler s death day (see Confronting a Neo-Nazi Hate Group in The School Administrator November 2007). Teachers led the community in standing up to this threat by saying No neo-Nazis here A meaningful way superintendents can promote development of common values and cultural competence is by leading faculty and staff to reflect on core values. This activity can be prompted in reaction to public displays of intolerance such as the desecration of Jewish cemeteries or calls for Muslim citizens to leave the country or the public rallies of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Others can build community bonding through common readings of works that emphasize struggles that depict youth dealing with racial stress in many of America s neighborhoods. Two such books are M.K. Asante s Buck and Frank Meeink s Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead. Had the superintendent and athletic director of the suburban Philadelphia district reflected at all on the social justice aspects of such documents as the Declaration of Independence or the Bill of Rights accepted them as part of their core values and used them to guide their actions they might never have engaged in the offensive and hurtful text messaging. Professional Duty Professional organizations such as AASA and its state affiliates have a responsibility for promoting the ethical standards professed by these organizations. AASA s professional code of ethics adopted in March 2007 states in part An educational leader s professional conduct must conform to an ethical code of behavior and the code must set high standards for all educational leaders. National standards high-stakes testing and data analyses tend to dominate the professional development agendas for state and national education organizations. Given the divisive political climate shown by the Charlottesville catastrophe and other hate-filled events around the country our profession needs to pay more serious attention to developing deeper understanding of ethics related to cultural diversity. Superintendents who hope to be considered as transformational must stand tall and reflect continuously on their core values. They need to lead their districts in examining communal values of equity and social justice. We cannot allow the racial ethnic and religious hatred that divides this nation to stifle the very breath of our democracy. n TERRY FURIN a former superintendent is a professor of education at St. Joseph s University in Philadelphia Pa. E-mail tfurin Additional resources The author recommends these informational sources for teaching about cultural diversity and dealing with conflicts related to cultural diversity. k ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE provides anti-bias curricula resources and customized interactive training programs for educators k BAF BAF offers a simulation to teach educators and students about cultural diversity https 2013 08 30 historyof-bafa-bafa-a-cross-culturaldiversityinclusion-simulation k COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS offers a series of guides to explain relevant Muslim religious practices to educators k PENNSYLVANIA HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION educates educators and students on civil rights k SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER provides Teaching Tolerance s educational kits and free subscriptions to its magazine for educators www. k UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL offers publications and multimedia resources supporting general human rights education www. EN PublicationsResources Pages TrainingEducation.aspx November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 25 Social Justice 26 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 Battle for A former superintendent describes what she has learned about white privilege as she pursues educational equity and promotes cultural understanding BY VERONICA McDERMOTT Becoming an Ally in the M r. M was a highly regarded long-time principal in the Midwest whose support of an illconceived event intended to improve cultural understanding ended with his forced retirement and his reputation damaged. Dr. K. a new superintendent in another community was committed to social justice including high expectations for all students. But before her vision could be realized the community and board of education turned on her and she was forced to resign. Both scenarios which took place within the past six years involve white education leaders serving predominantly white communities undergoing demographic changes. Both involve leaders with big hearts and both situations contain important lessons about the blind spots that leaders with a lifetime of white privilege may face when introducing efforts to build cultural understanding and equity. As a former superintendent who emerged from the fog of white privilege to become an activist for social justice I know now that getting equity right matters. Efforts gone awry stir up controversy. Communities can be left in emotional tatters. Initiatives to change attitudes and ways of doing business in diverse school settings grind to a halt. A misguided Initiative Mr. M. was the principal of an elementary school in a suburban district that had no black students or faculty. While his school continued to draw students from an affluent part of town other schools were undergoing demographic changes as families from a nearby city relocated. His teachers wanted to help their students be culturally sensitive to these newcomers -- mostly black and brown students. With his support they planned a slave day to help students understand what it was like to be a slave. Students for example could sleep in a space the size of what an enslaved child slept in. The black community who resided in the district was outraged. The white community was perplexed by the reaction to their efforts to teach multicultural understanding. In response the teachers swore they would never do anything again to help students understand others. Instead of fostering better understanding the event sparked heated discussions community distrust and cultural division. Under the pressure Mr. M. retired. What went wrong The planners of this event all white teachers took a story that belonged to others and told it without permission and without consultation. A leader versed in cultural sensitivity could avoid such controversy by moving the teachers to the next level of cultural understanding. That would mean asking the event planners to consider l the difference between the terms slavery and enslavement l why the story of enslavement is not theirs to tell l why the story of enslavement is not the ONLY story that could be told about the black community l the difference between learning about others and learning from them l ways to amplify the voices of the owners of the story and l the difference between working for a marginalized group versus working with them. The kind of conversations members of a community have reflects and shapes the values and culture of that community. By changing the conversation to one deliberately focused on equity leaders change the culture. reduced expectations Dr. K. was the superintendent of a community of about 60 000 resi- dents which was undergoing demographic change. New families increasingly included students who identified as black or brown or were part of families challenged by poverty or spoke languages other than English at home. An insightful student of data the superintendent discovered her district s academic performance looked good in the aggregate but this masked the reality that some student groups were not being served by the learning and teaching practices in place. Simply put many teachers and community members had lower expectations for newcomers. Programming and practices reflected this bias. Dr. K. operated on the belief all students possess the intelligence to benefit from a rigorous curriculum as long as the schools provide the resources and support they need. Neither the teachers nor the community shared this belief. The school district had a long history of tracking students by ability. Those in-the-know rallied to have their children labeled gifted as early as possible. Advanced courses were reserved for those who met preordained academic and behavioral standards. The community was not prepared to accept what they saw as a complete shift in how school operations were always done. They particularly feared that changes to ensure all students thrived would divert financial and staffing resources from the programs they loved and expected. They did not buy into the notion these programs were exclusive and benefited those students who already had many benefits. And they certainly did not want to have their children sharing classrooms with those students. Through her work as a local school leader Dr. K. had encountered the crime of squandered potential a concept described in a 2012 book I co-authored with Yvette Jackson Aim High Achieve More How to Transform Urban Schools through Fearless Leadership. The so-named crime exists in the way learning and teaching were institutionalized in the district to serve effectively only a portion of the student population. The superintendent who was in her ninth year of leading the district moved quickly to implement her vision a completely understandable impulse. Unfortunately the community was not prepared. She lost her job and the students to whom she was dedicated remain in academically anemic courses. They still suffer the spirit slashing (a point I describe more fully in my new book We Must Say No to the Status Quo Educators as Allies in the Battle for Social Justice) that often accompanies school policies and practices that do not value students from other cultures their experiences or their world-view. Five Prerequisites The prerequisites to successfully address equity issues at the district and school leadership levels are these l ASSESS THE CURRENT REALITY. Ask what are the possibilities and limitations of taking on this issue at this time with this group of people. By articulating the possibilities a leader will bolster the motivation needed to engage in promoting change in prac- November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R 27 tices and policies. By articulating the limitations a leader will have a clearer vision of where opposition may arise and what form it may take. l STUDY THE 10 very much). If the consensus is that spelling bees do not help all students achieve their potential then the conversation could shift to what can or should be done about this. l EXPECT FLARE-UPS. Having a clear vision and process offers systemic change some cover while pushcommunity meming system change. bers often fall back So too does having a on the trope We large and representaVeronica McDermott always did it this tive group involved way -- despite the truth. Knowing in assessing policies and practices when how and why a highly prized against stated criteria. Yet no process way of doing things was instituted is will totally prevent disagreements and often enough to push back against backlash. change resisters. HISTORY CAREFULLY. Faced with public education involves hard work consensus building and honesty. It means recognizing that schools are grounded in multiple cultures that often do not see situations through the same lens. It requires recognizing that underlying issues may be fraught with biased overtones if not outright hostility. It means realizing different timelines and priorities exist among stakeholders. A Delicate enterprise Fostering cultural understanding and equity is a delicate enterprise. Educators typically possess three strengths that if identified and intentionally cultivated help them be successful in dramatically altering the lives of their most vulnerable students. These strengths include l DISPOSITION. Educators often have big hearts. Educators want to make the world a better place. l PREPARATION Educators are strategic. Educators develop lessons policies and practices with an intended outcome in mind to which they align activities. l POSITION. Educators possess access and influence. Educators come in contact with every student in their school. Educators possess institutional power that they can harness to work with others as opposed to over others. There is no scope and sequence to equity work. Different contexts demand different responses. However educators can trust their three strengths to aide them in their efforts to become strategic allies in the quest for justice and cultural understanding. n VERONICA MCDERMOTT a retired superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District in Patchogue N.Y. is a resident of Montreal Quebec and author of We Must Say No to the Status Quo (Corwin Press 2017). E-mail veronica.mcdermott blunt reaction l BUILD CONSENSUS. Your agenda may be to eliminate tracking and gifted programs but announcing this at the outset could kick up a firestorm of protest. Instead craft a vision statement on easily accepted laudable principles that lead to the change you are seeking. Who is inclined to argue against a vision that speaks to all students achieving their potential or all students thriving Prepare for ensuing steps by cultivating a relationship with those likely to oppose your ultimate goal. l CRAFT AND EMPLOY A REVIEW PROCESS. With an agreed-upon vision in place you can filter current and proposed new policies and practices through a robust process to assess their alignment with the vision. Using a 1-10 scale is helpful. Asking a group of community members faculty or students to consider the merits of a long-standing practice -- such as a spelling bee -- would lead to some lively conversation. To what extent does conducting yearly spelling bees help all students meet their potential (1 not at all As education leaders we can promote collaboration and a spirit of inquiry. We can construct a shared sense of community and a consistent agreed upon and productive way of addressing issues. Nowhere is this more important -- or more fraught with dangers -- than in addressing changing student body demographics what we refer to as diversity. The truth is that diversity and the actions taken to address diversity -- such as culturally responsive teaching multiculturalism and cultural competency -- fail to bring to the surface the real issue. As described by Paul Gorski and Katy Swalwell in an Educational Leadership article Equity Literacy for All one student who identifies as black and was involved in a two-year multicultural initiative to address diversity in the school sized up the project bluntly. She told the researchers the multicultural campaign did nothing. She wanted to know when the school would address the real issue racism. We can learn much from this student and from Mr. M. and Dr. K. Promoting cultural understanding in 28 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017 AASAInsight P R E S I D E N T S C O R N E R EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 2017-18 (terms expire June 30 of the year indicated) GAIL PLETNICK Loving Diversity in Public education IN JULY I HAD the privilege of attending the Canadian Association of School System Administrators conference in Halifax Nova Scotia. The theme was Healthy Schools Healthy Communities Healthy Future and as expected presenters addressed such topics as suicide prevention and how to embed wellness goals into strategic plans. One topic in particular that resonated with me was the importance of respecting every child regardless of his or her native language ethnicity race socioeconomic status place of residence or any other factor used to label and sort students in our schools. Several CASSA conference sessions shared school-based programs that honor students heritage and acknowledge the contributions and struggles of ethnic groups. They spoke to me of building in each child a sense of pride in his or her heritage and encouraging and celebrating all people coming together to build a stronger community and country. In fact the conference opened with a program about the power of words and I was taken by the use of the term First Nations in referring to Native American tribes living in Canada. How respectful to acknowledge these indigenous people living in Canada as the First Nation In our schools working to build an understanding and appreciation of others then celebrating the gifts and contributions each of us brings to our community of learners is a formula for success. We need to celebrate the diversity we have in our schools and celebrate the understanding that relationships and respect are critical to appreciating the uniqueness and the commonalities our students represent in our diverse school populations. That appreciation for and desire to be inclusive applies not only to students within a learning community but also to the workforce within our schools. A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Education The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce cited statistics from the most recent federal Schools and Staffing Survey showing 82 percent of public school teachers identified as white. That figure has changed little in more than 15 years. Data from a similar survey conducted by the Department of Education in 2000 indicated 84 percent of teachers identified as white. Those interesting statistics remind us that when we speak of the positive influence diversity can have in our schools we must ensure our teachers and administrators represent the diversity we see in our student population. PRESIDENT Gail Pletnick Superintendent Dysart Unified School District 89 Surprise Ariz. IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT Alton L. Frailey Retired Superintendent Katy Texas PRESIDENT-ELECT Christopher O. Gaines Superintendent Mehlville School District R9 Saint Louis Mo. MEMBERS Joseph C. Jody Barrow Jr. (2019) Mark R. Bezek (2019) David A. Cox (2020) Joseph V. Erardi Jr. (2018) Eric C. Eshbach (2018) Lupita L. Hightower (2019) Paul Imhoff (2020) Gary L. Kelly (2018) Janet Mason (2020) Michelle R. Price (2018) Kristi A. Sandvik (2019) Theron J. Schutte (2018) Valeria S. Silva (2018) Candace Singh (2020) Tom J. Turrell (2020) Betsy M. Webb (2019) Ronald C. Whitmoyer (2020) Daniel A. Domenech AASA Executive Director (Ex Officio) Gary M. Amoroso (2020) Association of State Executives Liaison (Ex Officio) Love Public education AASA has launched an I Love Public Education campaign. We need this campaign to applaud the work in our public schools to embrace diversity regardless of whether we are defining it as racial diversity socioeconomic background gender sexual orientation disability status religion or any other classification used to identify students or staff. Our public schools offer many examples of leadership focused on embracing diversity and addressing issues of equity. The North Clackamas School District in Milwaukie Ore. led by AASA s 2017 National Superintendent of the Year Matt Utterback adopted a district equity policy and developed a strategic plan that captures the district s focus on celebrating diversity in North Clackamas and closing any gaps that challenge the success of each student. We can state I Love Public Education because we have dedicated leaders like Utterback who not only lead the way in addressing equity but also share their good work with other districts so they may benefit. We need to shine the spotlight on our school leaders who are redefining redesigning and re-imagining schools to celebrate diversity and address matters of equity. Share your good news about diversity equity and innovation in your public school at ILovePublicEducation. GAIL PLETNICK is AASA president in 2017-18. E-mail gail.pletnick Twitter GPletnickDysart November 2017 S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R AASA Insight EXECUTIVEPERSPECTIVE DANIEL A. DOMENECH our Campaign for equity AASA THIS YEAR has set a goal to position superintendents as equity thought leaders in education. The climate that permeates our country and seeps into our schools and classrooms is divisive and some would suggest permissive of intolerant behavior rather than the inclusiveness and equity we seek. Who best to take on the role of champion for equity for children than the superintendents of the schools that serve those children The Brown decision was a major step toward equity but last year a Government Accountability Office report showed 62 years later our schools are resegregating. Between 2001 and 2014 the proportion of schools where more than 75 percent of the students are poor black and Hispanic increased from 9 percent to 16 percent. The report also found that compared with other schools these schools offered disproportionately fewer math science and collegepreparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in 9th grade suspended or expelled. White House and congressional proposals to cut funding will further hurt impoverished school systems. Advocates of charter schools say they are a lifeline for students trapped in segregated schools but charters not under the control of the local board and superintendent siphon dollars away from the public schools leaving the remaining students with even fewer resources. A 2016 Brookings Institution report Segregation Race and Charter Schools What Do We Know found individual charter schools are generally more racially segregated than traditional public schools that serve the same geographical area. There are insinuations nationwide that charter schools and vouchers are becoming the vehicle for resegregation. The push for vouchers is also problematic posing another threat to achieving equity. The Center for American Progress recently released a report The Racist Origins of Private School Vouchers that reminds us that the first private school voucher program in the South was designed to siphon public dollars from public schools to finance white students attending private schools. Deliberate segregation fosters divisiveness reeks of prejudice and leads to inequity. There is ample evidence that low-income minority students educated in schools with higherincome white students perform significantly better than their counterparts. Diversity leads to a quality education and engenders mutual respect that transcends economic and racial barriers. vides each child with what that child needs while equality would provide all children with the same. A personalized learning approach provides equity while teaching all the children in a class the same thing at the same time perpetuates the achievement gap. Although the transition from the traditional K-12 system as it exists in most schools to a personalized competency-based progress-at-your-own-pace approach is a challenge system leaders can set in motion the steps necessary to achieve the transition. We encourage you to join AASA s Personalized Learning Program and network with colleagues who already are deep into the process. The passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act creates an opening for greater equity. No Child Left Behind and adequate yearly progress encouraged a teach-to-the test mentality and the branding of children by a single test score. Although ESSA is still an accountability law it has reduced the test score requirement to just 50 percent and allows for the introduction of other measures. AASA s Redefining Ready is a national campaign that has introduced new research-based metrics to more appropriately assess that students are college-ready careerready and life-ready. Finally we encourage you to join AASA s I Love Public Education campaign and encourage your school board to adopt the resolution in support of public education on the web page. As champions for children and public education we can bring about the equity that continues to elude our country not just in education but in our culture. DANIEL DOMENECH is AASA executive director. E-mail ddomenech Twitter AASADan Hurtful Policies As had been the case in the years prior to the Brown decision in 1954 schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students are not afforded the level of services and opportunities as less-segregated schools receive. Because of the way we fund our schools via property taxes the zip code continues to be the best predictor of a quality education. Federal funding attempts to level the playing field but at 10 percent the funding is inadequate and the A Launching Pad How then can school system leaders champion equity The obvious first step is to recognize that equity and equality are not the same. Equity pro- S C H O O L A D M I N I S T R AT O R November 2017