Staunton City Schools (SCS) is developing an equity committee to solve achievement and opportunity disparities between students. The twenty members of the committee will focus on “ensuring equitable practices” within curriculum, teaching, student and parent experiences, school policies, and hiring.
Half of the committee will be comprised of individuals involved in the schools, with the other half from the surrounding communities.
Ruth Jones Turner, director of Strategic Planning & Partnerships, explained to The Virginia Star that the committee members wouldn’t be compensated. When asked how equity objectives differ from affirmative action, Turner stated they didn’t overlap at all.
“Not related. Equity means providing every student with support and opportunities to be successful, based on each individual’s characteristics and needs. Specifically, equity in education means working to remove barriers to educational success, particularly overcoming a historical legacy of discrimination, marginalization and lack of investment in students based on race, ethnicity, disability and socioeconomic status.”
Turner also explained that the SCS equity committee is strictly advisory and under the jurisdiction of the superintendent.
“Under the guidance of our expert partner, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, the committee will develop an equity plan that will be submitted to the superintendent for review. He’ll then submit it to the school board for its review and approval.”
The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities initially formed in 1935 in response to anti-religious attitudes forming in the country. Since then, the organization has expanded to prioritize racial, gender, and sexual equity. Included in their resources is “Teaching Tolerance,” a program from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Applications for the committee close November 6th. Selected members serve a term for one year, at which point they may be considered for reappointment by the school board.