Second racial equity webinar features community panel

Racism and racial bias are alive and well in Dallas ISD and the city overall, in the view of five panelists involved in racial equity work in Dallas. The five took part in an hour-long recorded webinar which will premier at 5 p.m., Tuesday., Dec. 8, as the second in a series of webinars organized by the school district’s Racial Equity Office. Pre-registration is required to receive a link to view the panel discussion. Please register here to receive the webinar link.

Titled “Using CQ to Create an Anti-Racist School Community,” the webinar features panel members responding to questions from moderator Dr. Sandra Upton of the Cultural Intelligence Center. Dr. Upton is facilitating the district’s racial equity push, which includes community conversations, teacher and staff training and commitments to reallocate district resources to improve services to Black students and English learners—two groups that district officials say have been underserved due to historic racist policies.

Panelist Miguel Solis, former District 8 trustee on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees,  summing up the general view of the panel, said that while the district has achieved progress on equity, it still  has a long way to go to grant the benefits of equity to all students. “When we look at the data on academic achievement of our African American students, it blows my mind that, year to year, we’re still not closing the gap in reading and mathematics. Add to that the disproportionate impact that our disciplinary practices are still having on especially Black male students, and something has got to be done.”

Shirley Ison-Newsome, retired educator and former area director for the district’s learning centers, and Mavis Knight, a higher education advocate who served three terms on the state board of education, echoed Solis’ concern. The two said that decades after court-ordered desegregation and numerous campaigns to curtail racism, biased teachers and unfair policies still exist and do significant harm to student achievement. They credited the district with its renewed attention to the issue, but challenged leadership to stick with the effort until it yields results.

Ray De Los Santos, higher education advocate and director of college prep programs for LatinX students, said the district needs to do better at teaching students about their own and other cultures. “We need to do a better job of extending African American and Mexican American studies courses across all grades,” he said. “The first job is to know yourself. These courses go a long way to help us understand who we are in relation to the other communities around us.”

Amber Sims, founder of the social justice nonprofit Imagining Freedom Institute called the district short-sighted in closing two historically Black schools, Julia Frazier and Pearl C. Anderson, saying, “The district has disinvested in Black leadership and black students.” Sims said the lessons of history have value and can teach district leaders a lot about past inequities to avoid repeating them.

The webinar will air at 5 p.m., Tues., Dec. 8, and pre-registration is required to view it. To register to receive the link, go here. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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