Board receives equity update

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Director of Equity and Student Achievement Percy Brown Jr.  provided an update on the equity work the District has done since the start of the 2018-19 school year at the Board of Education regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 3.

He noted the mentoring program launched last week and included about 45 high school students working with close to 100 elementary students at Elm Lawn, Sauk Trail and West Middleton. This year's focus is on building literacy skills with third- and fourth-graders.

Brown was excited to announce that a middle school basketball program that also involves the City of Middleton recreation department has started. It is his hope that will give children who participate the skill set and knowledge so they can have more opportunities in high school, similar to those who play with the Bluebirds or Middleton Basketball Club. Coaches will be able to transport students to keep that from being a barrier, while costs are low and scholarships available.

Brown and other District representatives attended a Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN) Conference in Chicago last week. He raved about a presentation on implicit bias and the huge role it plays in schools. He noted students of color end up being disciplined differently than white students for the same issue and shared a national report from 2015-16 that indicated black students were 13 times more likely to be disciplined than white students and four grade levels behind their white peers. However, he also believes the gap isn't as big as it appears because white students in MCPASD perform so well.

He noted the District is looking at how it might use restorative practices might help reduce the number of in-school or out-of-school suspensions and class time lost. He praised principal Jill Gurtner and CSCS for their restorative practice efforts and suggested they could be a model for other schools in the District.

The Board had questions about what priorities should come first. Brown emphasized that systems work is very important right now and that Multi-Tiered Systems of Support is moving the District in the right direction.  

"I think the beauty of where we are at as we are looking at interventions and supports related to academics and behavior, is it allows us to do the right work,'' he said. "And I believe we are doing the right work and moving in the right direction. We need to get the groundwork laid and done the right way.''

Brown said patience will be important as it will likely will take 3-5 years before the data shows the systems in place are working.

Superintendent George Mavroulis also noted the impact student and family engagement specialists have had. He is thrilled that they are meeting regularly and working collaboratively.