Dear District 97 Community,
In District 97, we believe that education is the most valuable tool to dismantle racism and create a more equitable society. Furthermore, we are consistently working to uphold our Racial and Educational Equity Policy by prioritizing culturally-responsive teaching and ensuring that all students feel welcome and respected in our schools.
To support these goals, our district took the important step last year of implementing anti-racist curricula and instruction, aligned to the social justice standards from Learning for Justice (formerly known as Teaching Tolerance). Through age-appropriate materials and lessons, this curriculum seeks to reduce bias; support understanding and appreciation of culture, class, language, ethnicity, and other differences that contribute to the uniqueness of each student and staff member; and provide opportunities for critical analysis of racism in the United States and around the world.
Over the past year, our staff has worked diligently and thoughtfully to lay the foundation for anti-racist teaching and learning in District 97. This included:
- Providing ongoing professional learning opportunities to support inclusion and anti-racism in our schools
- Establishing an Inclusive and Anti-Racist Curriculum Committee to support the implementation of the social justice standards from Learning for Justice.
- Incorporating age-appropropriate lessons on two of the four standards, Identity and Diversity, at the elementary level.
- Engaging our middle-schoolers in important conversations about race and anti-racism after reading the book Stamped
- Piloting the district’s first course on African-American history at Julian.
- Engaging families in learning and conversation around inclusion and anti-racism through community book talks, focus groups, Parent University, and presentations for school PTOs and our Diversity Council (DivCo).
We are excited to build upon this work during the 2021-22 school year:
- Our Inclusive and Anti-Racist Curriculum Committee will review our existing Identity and Diversity lessons for Grades K-5, while beginning work on the Justice and Action standards.
- The committee will conduct a curricular review of social science resources for kindergarten through eighth grade through an anti-racist lens.
- All middle-schoolers will continue to read and discuss excerpts from Stamped, and sixth-graders will study a new text, This Book Is Anti-Racist.
- Social justice standards from Learning for Justice will be incorporated into all core content units of study at the middle school.
- District 97 will partner with the National Equity Project to update the middle schools’ Individuals and Societies units to be more culturally responsive.
- Staff will focus on building awareness and support for the district’s equity and anti-racism work by providing regular communication and opportunities for engagement to the District 97 community.
Thank you to the many students, staff, families and community partners who have supported the implementation of our anti-racist curriculum. We look forward to engaging our entire community in the ongoing work to create a more inclusive and equitable District 97.
District 97 Teaching and Learning Department