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Definition of Equity

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					                                        Attachment B
  Summary / Analysis of Community Input Received
The Equity Task Force gathered feedback from more than 400 school district residents,
including approximately 120 Spanish-speaking families through feedback from face-to-
face conversations at community centers and with parent-teacher organization groups,
with several student groups comprising students of color, and with principal and staff
groups. Individual responses to an on-line survey were also collected. The group
publicized in school newsletters, on the MMSD website, and on announcement cards at
computer terminals in Madison public libraries.

The following summary attempts to give the reader a flavor of the feedback received. It
is not inclusive of all responses.

 Questi          A. What percentage of the respondents understood the
 on 1 –             definition of equity?
  What               62% responded to Question 1 by paraphrasing the definition or
  does               making a relevant comment about one or more aspects of the
   the               definition. These responses were interpreted as indicating
 definit             understanding.
 ion of
                     For example:
 equity                 Equity and equality are not the same. Opportunities are provided to each student
 mean                    based upon their needs.
                        In this instance, equity means distributing resources fairly. Where the need is
    to                   greater, greater resources should be allocated.
  you?                  For each MMSD student to have full access to opportunities, each student needs to
                         be supported in ways that maximize his/her potential. Not all students have the
     A.                  same needs; some need more support than others, and that additional support
   What                  should be provided to the greatest extent possible.
 percent
  age of         B. If they did not understand the definition, what were
    the             the common issues?
 respond
   ents              Many respondents interpreted equity to mean equal, or the
 underst             same. This was especially true for native Spanish speakers
 ood the             who universally interpreted “equity” as “equal.” This
 definiti            confusion in terms may have arisen from the difficulty in
   on of             adequately translating the definition.
 equity?
                     For example:
   B. If                It means that something may not be fair, but it will be equal.
   they                 The definition of equity means everyone is given an equal and fair chance to
  did not                provide what they are capable of doing.
 underst                That all students have the same rights/opportunities to complete school activities
                         and benefit from the educational system regardless of their skin color, ethnic
 and the                 background, home life, values, income level, etc. No student should get more or
 definiti                less than the other depending on these items.
    on,                 It means that all schools should have equal resources for students to access, not
                         just certain schools.
   what
   were
                 Themes
                 (Question 1)
    the
 commo
          Addendum to the Board of Education Equity Task Force Final Report 2007
          Attachment B – Summary/Analysis of Community Input Received by the Task Force
          Page 2 of 5



            Responses were also clustered into common “themes” or ideas.
Questi      Some of the key themes are listed below with a description of the
on 1 –      responses received.
 What
 does       Resources
  the       The issue of resources came up 76 times in response to the first
            question. Examples of comments are:
definit
ion of         Resources should be “equal” across schools (regardless of student demographics).
equity         Different schools should have different resources to meet different challenges.
               Resources include time to plan and collaborate, time for teacher training, leadership
mean            training.
   to          Extra-curriculars are part of resources; some schools have more than others.
               Funding and resources should be based on student need to level the playing field.
 you?          Resources including funding, support, time, opportunities, buildings, “movers and
Themes          shakers” staff, effective leadership, high-quality teachers, course offerings, small class
                sizes, paying participation fees, technology, transportation, libraries, curriculum,
                specialized programs like reading programs, safe environments.
               Issues of how PTOs help support schools and more affluent schools get better things
                (field trips, equipment, etc.) because of active PTOs.
               Resources allocated according to student needs, not student numbers.
               Enhancing resources for high-need populations without “taking away” from other
                students.
               Strategic use of limited resources to maximize the chances of fulfilling the goal of
                students learning and thriving to the best of their interests and abilities.
               Repeated comments on more resources for higher-poverty schools.

            Accountability/Ability to Implement Equity Definition
            Some respondents either thought the definition was too vague or
            were concerned that the definition was insufficient without
            implementation strategies and district accountability measures.
            Examples of comments:
               Good definition, but the devil is in the details.
               It needs TEETH. It has to be closely connected to resources and allocations or else it’s
                wishful thinking.
               I’m very concerned it will result in a policy that is not enforceable and effective.
               The school community needs more mechanisms to hold leadership accountable for
                decisions – more evaluations, in-depth opportunities for diverse families to give
                feedback on principal and staff.
               MMSD administration has to be more proactive in monitoring schools – how each
                school is reflecting changes in the community.
               The definition sounds nice, but seems hard to measure. It does not directly deal with
                issues of privilege, race, classicism, and homophobia which are engraved on our
                systems, are what is causing much inequity and are hard to overcome.
               Opportunity and access don’t NECESSARILY result in excellence and social
                responsibility.
               We shouldn’t pass policy without wide community support for it. In the absence of
                that, such a policy would be just another meaningless gesture to our community’s
                marginalized communities.
               It’s an adequate definition, but it means nothing without follow through actions .



            Themes (continued)
            (Question 2)

            Preparation
Questi
 on 2:
         Addendum to the Board of Education Equity Task Force Final Report 2007
         Attachment B – Summary/Analysis of Community Input Received by the Task Force
         Page 3 of 5

           Comments frequently reflected concerns about staff and student
           preparation and what the district should do to prepare students to,
           for example, reach for higher academic expectations.

              Parents, schools and administration need to help students understand they need to
               complete all of their respective classes or face consequences.
              Teachers and staff should participate in more training to respect a broader range of
               other cultures.
              Give schools, staff and students better tools to improve safety.
              Bilingualism
                    Greater cultural diversity in hiring and staffing
                    More Spanish speaking teachers
                    Schools and classrooms need to provide translators and translations
                    More classes in Spanish for those children not yet proficient in English
                    Classroom information sent home should be in other languages
                    School meetings, programs and publications in multiple languages
                    Bilingual bus drivers

              Preparing more well-rounded students
                   Free after school programming
                   Free early childhood education
                   Free sports
                   Free strings

              Teaching diversity classes will prepare students to be better, more responsible
               members of their schools, families and community.
              District-wide increase in mentoring and tutoring.
              Prepare more “out of the box” programs for students that do not fit into current
               classroom or learning structures.
              Preparing transitional programs for students who transfer into the Madison school
               system.


           Attitudes
           The dominant attitudes reflected in responses to Question 2 were
           about:
                     -- cultural, racial and socio-economic factors related to
                        tolerance, acceptance and understanding;
                     -- safety and discipline;
                     -- community and family involvement including outreach
                        and family accountability.


           Themes (continued)
           (Question 2)

           For example:
Questi
 on 2:        Equity is about changing the way we see each other…Equity will come about when we
               raise a generation of children tolerant of differences and engaged in their democracy
 How           to stop the processes leading to inequity.
can an        All families should be considered…bilingual staff should be available…to help ensure
               a good mix of all cultures/viewpoints.
equity        Social interactions and school safety are a direct “spinoff” of high expectations.
policy        Create a community of acceptance and unity with a common goal of learning with
               meaningful cultural and social development.
  be          We provide excellent education in Madison, yet many families do not understand how
 used          to appropriately support and/or access it.

  to
impro
         Addendum to the Board of Education Equity Task Force Final Report 2007
         Attachment B – Summary/Analysis of Community Input Received by the Task Force
         Page 4 of 5

              Students must be getting these attitudes from home, so we need to concentrate on
               teaching parents/guardians how they are affecting overall dynamics of a school.
              Students wouldn’t feel out of place at school; they would feel more respected.
              If the school understands that the parents speak Spanish, they provide the information
               in Spanish.
              Base it in basic principles: respect, opportunity, aide, valor/values, harmony,
               patience, work, safety and protection.


           Resources
           More than 140 responses to Question 2 related to resources.
           ((Interestingly, few of the responses from student and Spanish-
           speaking groups mentioned resources, other than funding for
           college (students) and interpreter services (Spanish-speaking).
           Responses from these groups were more focused on
           attitudes/expectations and opportunities to succeed.))

           For example:

              Buildings need more discretion to allocate for their populations, especially when they
               have higher numbers of low-income or high-needs students.
              Buildings with more high-needs kids need increased resources.
              It shouldn’t be either/or – should not actively cut from higher-income schools to fund
               lower-income schools.
              Resources should be allocated per child, not by building. It doesn’t help low-income
               or high-need children in relatively affluent buildings if they don’t have the
               individualized supports needed.
              Social work, guidance counseling, psychology, special education services are all
               critical for kids who come in with fewer opportunities.


           Themes (continued)
           (Question 2)

           Leadership
Questi
           Respondents offered ideas for leadership of equity efforts in schools
 on 2:     ranging from -- determining the specific steps that educators and
 How       administrators can take to help ensure excellence in education for
can an     minority students -- to providing a mission, a high expectation for
equity     staff and students, a statement of philosophy that can be used as a
policy     guide or outline for all district personnel to follow.
  be
           Accountability
 used      Responses also reflected concern that the district be accountable for
  to       ensuring that the equity policy is used and enforced.
impro
  ve       For example:
school
              Make sure all students get a fair share in education, not just a few students.
  s?          Ensure just, fair policies for all.
Themes        It needs to be clear, behavioral, measurable, and embraced by the staff. It needs to
               have a strong sense of vision and passion that motivates and inspires staff and the
               community.
              The equity policy needs to be broken down into measurable pieces. It needs a clear
               picture of what things should look like.
Addendum to the Board of Education Equity Task Force Final Report 2007
Attachment B – Summary/Analysis of Community Input Received by the Task Force
Page 5 of 5

     It can be used to mandate changes that need to occur.
     It gives schools the responsibility for coming up with plans to make sure no kids fall
      through the cracks.

				
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Richard Cataman Richard Cataman
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