Equity cadre

Equity cadre

Equity work continues with new Cadre
 
Kentucky School Advocate
November 2017
 
By Madelynn Coldiron
Staff writer
Christian County school board member Susan Hayes makes a comment as KSBA’s new Equity Cadre holds its first meeting; at left is EKU assistant professor Roger Cleveland and at right is Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence, the group’s chair.
Kentucky school boards that need help in closing achievement gaps in their district soon will be able to call on their own team of equity experts through KSBA.

The Equity Cadre represents a continuation of the work KSBA and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence did earlier this year when they teamed up with seven school districts to identify strategies to close their achievement gaps. The work – involving the Boone, Christian, Jefferson and Mercer county systems; and Covington, Frankfort and Paducah independents – was funded by a grant from the Gates Foundation to the Prichard group.
 
Christian County school board member Susan Hayes makes a comment as KSBA’s new Equity Cadre holds its first meeting;
at left is EKU associate professor Roger Cleveland and at right is Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence, the group’s chair.

As the grant comes to an end, the Equity Cadre is being launched, consisting of Kentucky-based leaders in the field. Their work will be twofold:

• To provide resources and support to all Kentucky school boards for expanding the gap-closing lessons learned by the seven original school districts.

• To create an Equity Toolbox, a suite of resources to help school boards raise achievement, close gaps and ensure accountability. It’s also aimed at helping boards maintain an equity focus as they carry out their new role as charter school authorizers.

“The goal of this Cadre is to provide in-state capacity around issues of equity and inclusion,” explained KSBA Executive Director Kerri Schelling. “We wanted Kentucky-based resources to help continue the work after the grant ended.”

Cadre members discussed ideas for the training and resources when they convened Oct. 5 for an initial meeting. Much of the professional development on equity issues assumes that only teachers need this training, said Cadre member Dr. Roger Cleveland, associate professor, Eastern Kentucky University College of Education. In reality, he said, “It’s important that we start with leadership first.”

In looking over the duties of school board members as outlined in the KSBA School Board Leadership Guide, Cadre members suggested viewing those duties through an “equity lens,” with training about those duties also folding in equity examples.

“Everything needs to be under the auspices of equity,” Cleveland said.

Cadre coordinator Dr. Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence said the group may work to “shape what equity looks like” in school districts. Some training also will revolve around the strategies developed by the seven districts involved in the Gap Closure Project.

Cadre member Veda Pendleton, equity lead for the state education department, said most people think equity is about race, but it’s really about “disruption.”

Districts need to ask, “Who’s not benefiting from the way things are?” she said.
Frankfort Independent school board member Jina Greathouse  participates in the discussion at the KSBA Equity Cadre’s first meeting as Stephen Chi listens.
The group also discussed the possibility of creating a tool for school board members based on the “equity diagnostic” that the state education department incorporates into school and district improvement plans.

The timing is right for this work, said Christian County school board and Cadre member Susan Hayes, with the new state accountability system’s increased focus on achievement gaps. “I think you’re going to see a greater demand because of the way schools are evaluated now,” she said.

The training being developed will be provided to all school boards as part of regular KSBA events, such as annual conference. It also will be available as fee-based, on-site training. The training and materials will be designed to help school board members better understand a range of equity issues, including inclusion, cultural competence and implicit bias, along with generational poverty and institutional racism.
 
Frankfort Independent school board member Jina Greathouse participates in the discussion
at the KSBA Equity Cadre’s first meeting as Dr. Ron Chi listens.

The focus will be helpful to board members as they learn their role as public charter school authorizers, Schelling said. “We want them to be mindful that schools need to help all students,” she said.

The Center for Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University also will work with the Equity Cadre to develop training modules, high-quality videos, and an online toolkit to help board members understand the Excellence Gap, a term describing the gap in helping gifted students achieve to the height of their capability.
 
The Equity Cadre
Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence, coordinator, KSBA Gap Closure Project; academic services coordinator for Bowling Green Independent Schools’ alternative school; and former Bowling Green Independent school board member

Skip Cleavinger, English as a Second Language coordinator, Warren County Schools

Roger Cleveland, assistant professor, Eastern Kentucky University College of Education

Ron Chi, chief academic and innovation officer, Frankfort Independent Schools and Kentucky State University

Veda Pendleton, equity lead, Kentucky Department of Education

Felicia Cumings Smith, assistant superintendent of Academic Services, Jefferson County Schools

Susan Hayes, Christian County school board member

Jina Greathouse, Frankfort Independent school board member

Elaine Farris, retired superintendent
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