The Office of Strategic Partnerships believes in the importance of acknowledging and working to dismantle structural racism through our work and the work of our partners. We believe that to do so requires continuous professional and personal reflection and action. Examining our biases and racialized perspectives is necessary work in every context, and the need for such self-awareness and cultural sensitivity is particularly essential for those working in a school district where the majority of students enrolled are students of color (85%).
The sources and impacts of racism stem from the actions – and sometimes inaction – of individuals and systems that reinforce white privilege and white supremacy. The dynamics of racism influence the structures and policies that surround us, and also the ways in which we see the world as individuals and the day-to-day interactions we have with others (e.g. interactions between partner staff and students). Consequently, the significant – sometimes life-threatening – effects of racism can impact our students on a daily basis, and can also influence how individuals and systems view and serve our students.
Because of this, we believe it is important for partners to not only be aware of these issues, but to take action by:
- Designing programs based on perceptions of our students that are rooted in their potential and strengths, as opposed to racialized ideas/approaches/stereotypes.
- Ensuring that voices of people of color are sought out and heard within your organization/program.
- If you aren’t hearing these voices, consider why that may be. Seek them out.
- Continue to ask and explore how your colleagues, parents, and students experience structural racism.
- Hiring people of color and ensuring that they are not only employed in direct-service positions, but also leadership/decision-making positions within your organization.
- Establishing and maintaining a diverse board of directors that reflects the community you serve.
- Training and providing on-going support to staff on the topics of unconscious bias and antiracism.
- Creating spaces for constructive and reparative dialog that establishes and enforces accountability for white staff and protects staff of color in voicing their perspectives and concerns.
Our partners are positioned to help our schools and students flourish by developing and highlighting the strengths of our students, schools, and communities. We see a direct connection between our collective work and working towards a more just and equitable society. Dismantling structural racism is not work for communities of color to do on their own; this work requires the active involvement and accountability of white people. It is important that personal and professional reflection on these issues be fully-embedded in how partners design programs and train and support their staff, particularly white staff working with people of color. We acknowledge that this can be challenging work for organizations and individuals, but we maintain that it is essential.
We are deeply appreciative of your consideration of these dynamics as you continuously work to improve your programs and relationships with our students. Featured below are some suggested resources that may help you or your program infuse these concepts into your program design, implementation and staff professional development.
The Office of Strategic Partnerships
An unacknowledged system of favoritism and advantage granted to white people as the beneficiaries of historical conquest. Benefits include preferential treatment, exemption from group oppression and immunity from perpetuating social inequity.
A system of exploitation to maintain wealth, power and white privilege.
When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.
One who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or inaction or expressing a racist idea.
SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How to be an Antiracist, Random House, 2019
One who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and is supporting policy that reduces inequity.
SOURCE: Ibram X. Kendi, How to be an Antiracist, Random House, 2019
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper
- How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- Racing To Justice: Transforming Our Conceptions of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society by john a. powell
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson
- White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
97 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice by Corinne Shutack
OSP's Internal Resource List
OSP’s ongoing list of reading/listening shared between the team: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15MAJ73VAR2QFQtv1ixhJwxbjkjpqrPyia6oByqvAhXQ/edit#gid=0
OSP’s Strategic Approach and Initiatives
As part of our Strategic Plan, it is our priority to promote antiracism awareness and advocacy within the District and our partner community to increase equitable student access to partner opportunities and experiences. Below are our initiatives and strategies/goals for the 2020 – 2021 school year.
- Encourage diverse partner representation so that students see a reflection of themselves in partner programming and interactions
- Encourage partner staff participation in District led and external unconscious bias and antiracism training opportunities
- Incorporate antiracism advocacy as a recurring priority in our strategic plan, and as a foundational principle that undergirds our work
- Use our “seat at the table” to advocate for racial equity cross departmentally and across our partner community (e.g. work committees, boards, panels)
Goals for the 2020-2021 School Year:
- Survey existing partners to establish a baseline understanding of the current training/preparation offered by our partners to their staff
- Continue to offer access to District workshops on the topics of unconscious bias, anti-racism and related topics
- Continue to compile recommended resources and readings
- Develop a classification system for District partners that includes consideration of partner staff preparedness on the topics of unconscious bias and anti-racism
Each year, OSP collaborates with the Office of Research and Evaluation to administer the School Supports Census (“The Census”): a survey of school principals that collects data on existing supports and needs for additional partnerships. When a partner contacts OSP looking for support in identifying new schools with which to partner, OSP uses data from the Census to direct partners to schools with needs that the partner can address.
Key Equity Measures:
We consider school characteristics such as SPR tier, Title 1 Federal Accountability Designation, poverty rate, and student demographics when matching a partner to a school. Depending on the partner’s program content and interests, resources are guided to schools that exhibit the following:
- Falls in the lower quartiles of overall School Progress Report or SPR scores (e.g. Intervene and Watch), or specific SPR domains (e.g. literacy) if the partner is positioned to impact that domain
- Receives Title 1 funds and fall within the CEP economically disadvantaged rate
- Meets a specific sub-population of target students based on student demographics (e.g race, gender, English language learners, students with IEP’s etc.)
LEAD Black Male Mentoring Initiative
In Spring 2020, OSP helped launch LEAD (Leaders Encouraging Achievement & Development), a mentoring initiative effort that aims to help support the needs of our Black boys and young men through Black male mentorship.
In the SDP’s 2018-2019 School Supports Census, 62 schools expressed a critical need for mentoring, and many of them specifically requested mentors for their Black students. Based on identified needs, our desired outcomes for this initiative are to:
- Strengthen intergenerational relationships among Black men and boys
- Equip Black boys with the life skills necessary for access and opportunity
- Inspire and empower Black boys to both believe in and maximize their full potential
The pilot launched in two SDP schools with mentors recruited by our partners in the Office of School Safety, who moving forward, will be leading the initiative with our support.
“When white people ask me what to do about racism and white fragility, the first thing I ask is, ‘What has enabled you to be a full, educated, professional adult and not know what to do about racism?’ It is a sincere question. How have we managed not to know, when the information is all around us? When people of color have been telling us for years? If we take that question seriously and map out all the ways we have come to not know what to do, we will have our guide before us. For example, if my answer is that I was not educated about racism, I know that I will have to get educated. If my answer is that I don’t know people of color, I will need to build relationships. If it is because there are no people of color in my environment, I will need to get out of my comfort zone and change my environment; addressing racism is not without effort.”
– Robin DiAngelo, White Fragility, pg. 144