Dear District 97 Families and Community Members,
Our Aug. 14 feedback session was a HUGE next step in engaging our community around the issue of equity. This is a topic being discussed around the country, and I’m grateful for the diverse group of 100 parents, staff, students and community members in attendance who were willing to transparently share.
Many parents expressed their appreciation for being heard, and we noted the importance of acting on the feedback in order to strengthen trust and collectively improve the education of ALL students.
Adults in attendance were divided into four primary groups according to the pillars in Vision D97:
- Pillar ONE: Equitable access to rigorous, responsive instruction
- Pillar TWO: Strong relationships with families and communities
- Pillar THREE: Effective teachers, leaders and staff for every student at every school
- Pillar FOUR: Data driven continuous improvement
Below is a brief summary of some of the outcomes and suggestions discussed. Additional details will be provided in September.
If you didn’t have the opportunity to attend the Aug. 14 session, we welcome your attendance at our next event on Monday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. and/or request your involvement in our other upcoming opportunities to get engaged!
With gratitude for our District 97 community,
Dr. Carol Kelley, Superintendent
Aug. 14 Community Feedback Session Summary
Participants suggested that training on restorative and equitable discipline practices would help improve equitable access to rigorous, responsive instruction but advised that consistent implementation of these practices is also needed.
The group also recommended adding more social workers, improving home/school communication and hosting parent and staff workshops on racism and bias as ways to improve equity in instruction.
In order to build strong relationships with ALL families and communities, the group felt the district must begin by building trust. They recommended a need for enhanced transparency from the district about data and information, as well as increased follow through and responses to parent feedback and concerns.
The group demanded a stop to student labeling and advised greater involvement from parents and students in the overall decision-making process.
Participants discussing effective teachers, leaders and staff for every student suggested heightened teacher accountability for student outcomes, hiring a more diverse workforce and relationship building between staff and students.
The group also recommended more meaningful professional development for teachers around culture, student expectations and inclusiveness.
The group focused on Data Driven Continuous Improvement felt we should begin by ensuring we’re looking at the right data, then align those resources to support the areas most in need.
Participants felt there should also be ongoing transparency and training with parents about the data such as who did the measuring, where it came from and how it will be used to evaluate success.
In addition to the adults present, we’re grateful for participation from the Percy Julian Middle School Social Justice Club. The students shared a variety of experiences they’ve faced surrounding bias, racism and lack of inclusion. Their raw and passionate feedback further illuminated the critical need for this work.
Among their suggestions: a student-led engagement session, cultural sensitivity training for teachers (before and after hire) and more diverse activities for students of color and LGBT students.