SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Public Schools held a virtual school board meeting on Saturday morning to discuss the district’s strategic plan. The discussion was focused on the next six years for the district.
A focus for the district will be on diversity and inclusion. Based off of feedback the district got from a survey, the overwhelming response showed that community members reported inequalities between schools. The community shared it’s important that the district ensure equitable education for all students across the district. Feedback also recommended hiring more people of color to help with diversity.
The survey conducted by SPS included, but not limited to, individual interviews, focus groups, town halls and questionnaire. Here are the five essential questions asked by the district. How can SPS ensure excellence for everyone through equality? What do you want to see when you walk into an SPS building or classroom? What should the student experience look like for every SPS student? What should every SPS graduate be able to do? What should SPS work on for the next six years to realize its mission?
Some responses from parents and community members helped SPS leaders determine what the next step is. Here are some of those comments. “Fair distribution of resources across the district. South Hill should not have ‘the best schools’ as the resources should be evenly pooled and distributed throughout Spokane. A child living in poverty should have the exact same opportunities at schools other kids have,” responded a member of the SPS community in the survey.
“I have mixed race children. Please be thoughtful about how you are making them feel when you focus on racism as a victim quality. I can assure you my children are not victims. It makes them uncomfortable to spend time focusing on racial inequality because they feel like they are being asked to search for inequality that for them does not exist. Also, because they are part Caucasian, it makes them feel confused as to how they are supposed to feel about the claimed racial inequalities in our supposedly biased system,” responded an SPS parent in the survey.
“I see some groups being given preferential treatment and I don’t like it. I want to see all student backgrounds celebrated. I want to see all students held to the same standards,” responded another SPS parent in the survey.
“Build relationships with the community and grow in being a leader in our community. Showcase the good. Don’t be afraid to tackle the hard issues that our students, staff and community face. Build togetherness, said a surveyed community member.
Amongst the comments from the SPS school board, School Board Vice President Mike Wiser said, he wants to try and be aware of the message they send out as a school board and figure out how to best support students. School board member Nikki Otero Lockwood said, “Because we haven’t talked about it for so long, we are where we are.”
As part of this process, community/neighborhood meetings will be held in the future. The district has sent out info on those meetings to parents.